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"Last week, as my 'Messages of Hope' article for the week came due, I sent an email to our team in Hastings, and to the marketing and development team, asking them to share some reflections on the “Give Hastings Day” that took place Thursday, May 2.

At Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska, we are blessed with generous contributions of time, talent, and treasure. This past week, from April 21-27, CSS celebrated those who donate their time and talent as volunteers in Auburn, Hastings, Imperial, and Lincoln during National Volunteer Week.

Incredibly, CSS notched 24,000 volunteer hours across southern Nebraska in 2023, and there’s room for more volunteers in 2024 as we endeavor to respond to our community’s needs. This includes families in need of food and financial support, women experiencing domestic violence, refugees and immigrants building a new life in our communities, and more.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says to his disciples in chapter 9, “The harvest is good but laborers are scarce.”

We have all heard that passage in the past, but have we taken it to heart? It’s something to consider as we celebrate National Volunteer Appreciation Week April 21-27 across this country.

By Dennis Kellogg
Director of Communications

Nebraskans will have the chance to participate in a first-of-its-kind fundraiser involving all three dioceses May 1. The Nebraska Catholic Day of Giving will give Catholics across the state and beyond the opportunity to financially support parishes, schools and ministries throughout Nebraska.

CSS Executive Director Katie Patrick shared our critical need for good used furniture and how your donations will help a wide variety of neighbors.

If it weren't for our volunteers, CSS would not be able to accomplish the works of mercy for so many through our various programs and services. In honor of National Volunteer Week, Mike and Aggie Gesch talk about their work as volunteers in the CSS Lincoln Food Market, and the fact that they are both inspired and humbled to help provide more Hope in the Good Life to so many.

LINCOLN–(KFOR Apr. 16)–There’s an urgent need for donated furniture from Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska.

“Requests for furniture are running nearly double the usual demand,” says Katie Patrick, CSS Executive Director. “Those requests come from more than two dozen human service agencies in Lincoln that are trying to help their clients, plus we have a need for used furniture for our own clients.”

"Unwavering service to others" defines both St. Padre Pio and our loyal CSS volunteers. Learn more about both in our April newsletter.

by Katie Patrick

Remember that time you were in a pinch and the Lord answered your prayers? He does that often, doesn’t He? We plan and prepare, then something goes wrong and we worry, and feel anxious. Maybe we hurriedly whisper a few prayers out of concern for the situation at hand, but then He shows up and everything just falls into place.

CSS is asking the public’s help to fulfill an urgent need for donated furniture to assist those in need. This news release outlines the reasons and how you can help through our Spring Furniture Drive

Whenever you put an ‘e’ in front of something, it usually means ‘electronic.’ When it comes to Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska (CSS) and our e-commerce offerings, the ‘e’ could also mean evangelize, extra, and environmental. CSS Director of E-commerce Mario Racicot talks about how his work fits in with the CSS core value of Sustainability.

Our Celebration of Hope banquet in Lincoln on February 25th, 2024, was an awe-inspiring evening of food & fellowship! A program highlight was our panel conversation on sustainability, which is one of our core values at CSS. Moderated by CSS Development Officer John Soukup, our panelists include CSS Executive Director Katie Patrick, CSS Director of e-Commerce Mario Racicot, and CSS Warehouse Manager John Haag. Watch to learn more about how we're not only generating additional revenue for our programs but also being good stewards of your generous donations.

We're committed to being good stewards of the gifts so generously given to us, as highlighted in the sustainability panel discussion at our 2024 Celebration of Hope event. Learn more about why this is such an important subject for all of us in our March Hope In The Good Life newsletter.

By Mario Racicot
Director of E-commerce

Whenever you put an ‘e’ in front of something, it usually simply means ‘electronic.’ When it comes to our e-commerce here at CSS, I like to think our ‘e’ means so much more: evangelize, extra, and environmental.

Food is more than nourishment- it can be fun, too! Here's a recipe to celebrate St. Patrick's Day that's a bit more budget and kid-friendly than corned beef and cabbage. It's easily adaptable to your family's preferences, with options for potatoes, pasta, or rice.

In the latest "Messages of Hope" column, CSS Child Care Director Elaine Simpson provides a "Little Blessings" update.

by Katie Patrick

For nearly a century, Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska has been providing “Hope in the Good Life” to individuals of all faiths and backgrounds across 24,000 square miles of southern Nebraska. 

Discover the Vincentians and their collaboration with Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska (CSS) to instill Hope in the Good Life. Larry Ellerbeck, both a Vincentian and the president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society's Lincoln Chapter, shares insights into how his team engages with individuals in their homes. Collaborating with CSS, they offer assistance with utilities, rent payments, food, furniture, gas, and beds.
To learn more about joining the Vincentians, reach out to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at or connect with your local parish. Individuals in need can contact 402-HELP YOU (402-435-7968) for assistance.

Canned pumpkin isn't just for Thanksgiving pies! This easy muffin recipe bakes up a batch of moist and delicious treats. We'll share samples and ingredient bonus baskets with our March CSS Lincoln Food Market shoppers.

"Sometimes what we most need is simply to know that someone believes in us." In our latest No Greater Love (St. Gianna Program newsletter), we share a continuing connection between SGP manager Veronica Pino and a former SGP client, an informative SGP Q&A by Sr. Bernadette, and more.

St. Gertrude of Nivelles | The CSS community garden:
Looking for the "little way to serve"

We're grateful for the support from our corporate event sponsors and all who help grow, nourish, nurture, and sustain HOPE IN THE GOOD LIFE! This video from our event shares not only our wonderful sponsors but also impact snapshots, upcoming events, and so much more.

by Veronica Pino
St. Gianna Program Manager 
Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska

One of our most recent endeavors at St. Gianna Women’s Home has been guiding three of our mothers as they seek to get their children baptized.

In many ways, it’s been an exciting experience, as we do what we can to help these families so that their little ones can enter the Catholic Church. What heartwarming moments we had as each mother approached one of our staff members expressing her desire to baptize her children. And what joy to think of seven children receiving the sacrament of Baptism!

Southern Nebraska Register 

Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska (CSS) reported to police Feb. 8 the vandalism of a statue that stood at the front of its building near 23rd and O streets in Lincoln.

by John McDonald
Hastings Regional Director, Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska

This time of year, I find myself dusting off my suits in preparation for various events, such as weddings, liturgies and banquets. This year is heavy on banquets and professional events, such as the upcoming Catholic Social Services Celebration of Hope banquet (April 25) and Give Hastings Day (April 2). Most recently, the Catholic Social Services team attended the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting in which Hastings CSS received the Business of the Year - Nonprofit Award.

Sandra’s face is the first one many of our clients see at CSS; She, in turn, sees the face of Christ in every neighbor who comes to us for help. As a point of first contact, CSS Lincoln Office Manager Sandra Svajdlenka greets our agency's clients, discerns their needs, and connects them with resources. And, in one very blessed instance, she became a Godmother, too. In this podcast, Sandra shares several powerful stories of the hope she brings to people, the hope she gets in return from those she serves, and how we can work together to inspire hope and love in every encounter.

Southern Nebraska Register, CSS

At the Hastings Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, Hastings Catholic Social Services (Hastings CSS) was named the Business of the Year in the Non-Profit category.

The award honors a nonprofit organization that has shown exemplary achievement in Hastings and the surrounding area in the recent years. CSS was among just over a half-dozen businesses and individual award winners at the meeting attended by more than 300 community members.

By Marilu Cazares
Family Support Services Program Manager,
Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska

Are you the type of person who considers giving up your favorite food for Lent every year? If so, you are not alone. I have done that many times. However, Lent is coming, and I have been thinking about what I can do differently this year because I am so grateful for all the blessings that God has given me and my family. What can I do to please our Lord in a different way this year? 

Veronica Barreto of KLKN Channel 8 News connected with CSS Refugee Resettlement Manager Poe Dee to discuss the anticipated increased influx of refugees in 2024 and how viewers can help welcome them to our community.

People shopped in a big room in Lincoln’s Catholic Social Services building. The aisles of rice, yogurt and baby food are reminiscent of a grocery store. The food and supplies set up in this room and the one neighboring it are meant for refugees coming to Nebraska. Refugee Resettlement Director Poe stood in the room with the shoppers.
“I was a refugee myself and kind of know the process about like, resettlement,” he said.

by Brad Brestel
Interim Manager, Immigration Legal Services
Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska

I have lived my entire life in Lincoln. I went to public schools, the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska Law School, all in Lincoln. I was baptized in a Methodist church when I was born, and I was baptized again at First Baptist Church when my family attended there.

I grew up surrounded by friends from the Baptist church. We all studied the Bible and learned lots of information about our Christian faith. I am thankful for the mountain of Bible knowledge the Baptist culture afforded me.

Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska (CSS, invites you to an evening of fellowship and Hope in the Good Life!

Catholic Social Services Hastings was honored to be named the "2023 Non-Profit of the Year" at the 2024 Chamber Annual Awards Banquet on Wednesday, January 31st, 2024. This video produced by the Hastings Chamber of Commerce shares the crucial work CSS Hastings performs in south central Nebraska to bring HOPE IN THE GOOD LIFE to neighbors needing a hand-up. Our efforts are possible thanks to our staff, volunteers, and supporters. THANK YOU!

How does a wife and a mother of nine kids find time to even think about volunteering and making a difference in the lives of others? Emily Villa tells us how in this uplifting and tearful witness to the power of finding beauty, dignity, and even fun in the little things that can make a big difference in the lives of others. Emily and her husband Mike and family will be honored at the CSS Celebration of Hope dinner February 25 as recipients of the Heart of Christ Award. Emily tells us how she learned that when serving others, she’s also being served by God.

by Katie Patrick

As we enter a new year, filled with hope and opportunities to continue making a difference in the lives of those around us, we are excited to extend to you an invitation to our annual event, Celebration of Hope, taking place Feb. 25 at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln.

The Heart of Christ Award | The Villa Family:
Looking for the "little way to serve"

By Mark Main
Store Manager at St. Louise Gift & Thrift in Lincoln,
Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska

One of the biggest lies in modern society is that a person is solely in charge of his or her own destiny. I once believed that statement.

Don’t get me wrong, I became very successful and achieved many of my goals. If someone told me that I couldn’t do something, I did everything I could to prove those people wrong. If I set my mind to it, I could achieve it. The problem was I didn’t realize that God was helping me accomplish these goals all along.

By John McDermott
Vice President, Marketing & Development
Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska

There are some days in your life that you just never forget. For me, Jan. 2, 1996, is one of those days. Not only was that my first day working at Catholic Social Services, but later that night, you Husker fans will remember, Nebraska put a 62-24 beatdown on the Florida Gators for Coach Osborne’s second consecutive national championship. Ah, the good old days!

Happy National Soup Month! It's hard to beat a warm bowl of soup for supper on a cold winter night. During January, our CSS Lincoln Food Market shoppers will enjoy a bonus basket filled with the ingredients for this delicious soup. Enjoy a bowl yourself and chase away the chill!

On December 10, 2023, area choirs gathered for the annual Carole Fest, a benefit for the St. Gianna Program of Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska.

Our latest Patron newsletter shares stories from across 24,000 square miles of southern Nebraska!

by Katie Patrick

About four years ago, my husband and I accompanied a young woman, “Rose,” to the custody exchange site in Lincoln so that she could safely connect with her ex-husband to exchange the kids for the weekend. The custody exchange location in Lincoln is near the Lincoln Police Department on 27th Street and provides families the opportunity to meet publicly, in a monitored place. There were a few other cars and families coming and going while we waited.

Thanks to connections and collaboration, CSS helped a family get back on the road to "Hope in the good life."

© 2024 Catholic Social Services of Southern Nebraska

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