SALT LAKE CITY — Catholic Community Services recognized the generosity of donors and the hard work of volunteers at its 2022 Humanitarian Awards Dinner, held Nov. 7 at the Little America Hotel.
Among those attending were Bishop Oscar A. Solis; Msgr. Colin F. Bircumshaw, vicar general; Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald, vicar general emeritus; from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Kevin W. Pearson, General Authority Seventy and his wife, June; Elder Jonathan S. Schmitt, General Authority Seventy and his wife, Alexis; and Bishop L. Todd Budge, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric and his wife, Lori.
CCS provides a myriad of services to those in need in the greater Salt Lake and Ogden areas. At the dinner, Father John Evans, president of the CCS Board of Trustees, gave a snapshot of some of the work done by CCS over the past year. CCS’ Migration and Refugee Services served 661 families and individuals, including those from Ukraine and Afghanistan, while the Refugee Foster Care Program placed 103 youth with families, he said. The St. Vincent de Paul dining hall in Salt Lake City served more than 85,000 hot meals and delivered 336,000 hot meals to the homeless centers throughout the area, and the Weigand Homeless Day Center served an average of 169 people per day, offering resources such as a computer lab, showers, hygiene items, clothing, haircuts and case managers, said Fr. Evans, who also is pastor of St. Thomas More Parish in Cottonwood Heights.
In northern Utah, CCS’ Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank distributed more than 2.5 million pounds of food and fed more than 66,000 school children through the Bridging the Gap program, Fr. Evans said, noting that organization-wide almost 15,000 volunteers provided 42,000 hours of service last year.
During the evening, this year’s honorees were acknowledged. Carole Mikita, senior reporter for KSL-TV News, introduced each of the award recipients.
The Lifetime of Service Award: the Honorable John Baxter (Ret.)
“Judge John Baxter has been a strong support of homeless individuals for many years,” Mikita said. “He founded and presided over both the Veteran’s Court and SLC’s Homeless Court, and has been holding court at the Weigand Day Center since September 2009, giving our homeless friends an opportunity to clear up outstanding charges that oftentimes prevented them from receiving services or getting jobs that could help turn their lives around. He made it a personal focus to connect with them as human beings, while guiding them through resolving their legal problems, and generally waived fees in favor of community service hours they could work off right at the Weigand Center or other local nonprofits.”
Baxter, who received numerous awards over the years recognizing his contributions, retired in July after 20 years serving in the Salt Lake City Justice Court, Mikita said.
In his comments, Baxter said he was grateful to receive the award, but he always “is stunned when something like this comes my way, because I thought I was just doing my job.”
His view is that “judges have the power not only to address injustice but to do something good, and that’s exactly what we tried to do. … If we have given a moment of dignity and a ray of hope to the people who have come to see us, then I think we’ve been successful. This award is something that I am happy to receive, but I receive it to hold in trust, because none of this was done by me, it was done by us.”
He acknowledged those sitting at the dinner table with him as team members who “have the courage and the heart to come out and work as a team with me at the Bishop Weigand Center.”
2022 Humanitarian of the Year: Dee Rowland
“Dee Rowland served as the Diocese of Salt Lake City’s government liaison from 1985 until her retirement in 2011,” Mikita said. “During her 25 years serving with the diocese, she was a strong, passionate advocate for those who oftentimes don’t have a voice, which includes all the individuals we serve at CCS.”
Rowland also was one of the founders of the Utah Citizen’s Council, “where she continues her work striving to improve lives in our community,” Mikita said, adding that in her retirement Rowland started a library at the Utah International School, “which is focused on educating newly arrived refugees. The library includes everything from picture books for new English readers to college-level volumes. Even with all of this, she still finds time to come volunteer regularly at St. Vincent de Paul’s dining hall.”
In her comments after accepting the award, Rowland said she was glad that the dining hall is able to provide all the meals it does, but she urged those present “to keep working so that there’s no need for Catholic Community Services to provide the wonderful services they do; that we can all have enough to eat and find jobs that pay a decent wage. …”
2022 Humanitarians: Robert and Kathy Fotheringham
The Fotheringhams “have been strong supporters of CCS for years in so many different ways,” Mikita said. “Using their strong connections in the community they have helped raise support, awareness, funds and friends. Bob Fotheringham has served multiple terms on the CCS Board of Directors and executive board, and has also been acting as chair of the Community Relations Committee, which brings CCS programs front and center. The entire organization would not be the same without his charismatic influence.”
Because the Fotheringhams are serving a mission in California with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they were unable to be at the dinner. The award was accepted by their son, Nate Fotheringham, who read comments sent by his father.
Serving with CCS taught the Fotheringhams “the joyful truth: Regardless of religious affiliation, we all benefit from the kind hearts that serve so many in need. Bob and Kathy have met some of the best people on the face of God’s green earth here at Catholic Community Services, and consider them dear, wonderful friends, admirably committed to the cause of Christ. There are those here tonight who have made a habit of giving generously of their time and resources to CCS. You know who you are, and my parents want to salute you,” Nate Fotheringham said, then named some individuals who are his parents’ “personal heroes.”
2022 Partner of the Year: nited Jewish Federation of Utah
During the Afghanistan crisis last year, members of the United Jewish Federation of Utah “made a large cash donation to help provide necessities like housing, phones and case management” for Afghan refugees in Utah, “and have focused on raising awareness among their members. They have committed to ongoing volunteer opportunities in many different capacities such as youth and family mentors to help CCS clients succeed in their new lives in Utah,” Mikita said.
Alex Shapiro, executive director of the United Jewish Federation of Utah, accepted the award.
The Jewish value of caring for the stranger “is not only important because of our teachings, but also because many in our community have parents, grandparents and family members who came here as refugees in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” Shapiro said. “They were fleeing from persecution, prejudice and poverty, and then came the Holocaust, a period during which the lucky were able to come to the United States, and the unlucky, of course, perished in the camps. These events are still fresh in our minds. … The Jewish Federation was honored and pleased to be able to help and support the wonderful and caring work of Catholic Community Services last fall to provide the Afghan [refugees] with some of the care that they needed.”
2022 Volunteers of the Year: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Service Missionaries
“Over the last three years, 66 service missionaries have given tens of thousands of hours supporting CCS staff in their positions,” Mikita said. “These young men and women work anywhere from one to five days a week and help in every single program, from teaching cultural orientations classes and working hand in hand with the job developers and health team in the refugee programs, to greeting clients at the Weigand Center, working with the chefs at Vinnie’s to prepare and serve meals, and helping to get food onto the shelves and into the homes of the individuals coming to the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank. … CCS leaders say, ‘We definitely would not be able to perform our mission at the same level without them.’”
Volunteer of the Year: Sue Marquardt
Marquardt “has a long history of helping people,” having served as president of organizations such as the Junior League of Ogden and the ACLU, and volunteering for organizations such as The Road Home, the Care Fair and Women Helping Women, Mikita said. “She has been feeding the hungry since the ’80s, when she got involved through Wasatch Presbyterian Church, and at the ripe young age of 93 can still be found at St. Vinnie’s every Wednesday, helping with meal service and handing out snacks to clients.”
The CCS Employee of the Year was Alyssa Williams, the Immigration Program manager and senior attorney, who has worked at CCS for more than 16 years.
“Over the years, she has represented countless immigrants and refugees with their family reunification cases, DACA applications, naturalizations, removal proceedings, represented unaccompanied minors in their asylum hearings and many others who couldn’t afford a private immigration attorney,” said Mikita while introducing Williams.
“But she does so much more than just immigration work at CCS. Any time that there is a need impacting a refugee or immigrant’s life, she is always there to assist, without hesitation,” Mikita added.
In his address at the end of the evening, Bishop Solis thanked all those who attended, saying that their presence “reflects the beauty of our state, manifested not only in those national parks and bountiful natural resources, but in the generosity of the people who have a big heart for the poor.”
The evening was not only an opportunity to gather in unity and solidarity, “but also to gratefully acknowledge the generosity of all our benefactors, and the good work of all the volunteers and supporters” at CCS, the bishop said. “In a special way, we honor some individuals and groups who have partnered with us in a quite exemplary way. Their humanitarian and charitable deeds are a great inspiration to all of us.”
The current economic situation has disproportionately impacted people on the margins of society; because of this, “the charitable and humanitarian outreach of Catholic Community Services to serve the poor, wherever they may be, has become more necessary,” he said.
After thanking CCS’ benefactors and volunteers, the bishop said they “allow us to say to those who are suffering, ‘You are not alone;’ to say to the migrants and refugees, ‘’Welcome to your home, welcome to our community,’ so that they can live with human dignity and respect. By your good deeds, by our partnership and collaboration, you have reached beyond yourselves to help promote a culture of life and build a better world, a civilization of love and God’s kingdom of justice and peace in our midst.”