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New Year, new hope

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As we turn the calendar page from 2011 and 2012, we at Catholic Charities look hopefully to the New Year ahead. Despite the enormous challenges faced by many in our communities during this time of seemingly unending recession, examples of strength and resilience, optimism and determination, compassion and generosity abound.

You may have seen the Bus 19 Series story in December about two teenaged brothers, Johnny and George Huynh, in which Boston Globe reporter Billy Baker described the struggles their family has faced following their arrival in the United States from Vietnam. Like many newcomers who experienced unspeakable trauma and hardship in their country of birth, the Huynhs arrived in America with hopes for a new and prosperous life. However, the family struggled to adapt. Language barriers, cultural divides, personal tragedy and poverty have all taken their toll on Johnny, George, and their parents.

And yet, working together with our partner Emmett Folgert of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, and with the ongoing support of Catholic Charities, Johnny and George remain optimistic. These extraordinary brothers are laser-focused on their education and are working hard both in and out of school towards a better future.

Partnership in the work that we do at Catholic Charities is essential to our success and we are blessed to be part of a community that supports our work. You can support Catholic Charities in 2012 by volunteering your time to mentor youth like Johnny and George or by donating your talent in another way. We consider volunteers among our most dedicated and generous partners. We could not possibly meet the level of increasing service demands without the support of many who have given of their time and talent. 2011 saw a nearly 25 percent increase in the numbers of volunteers at our service sites. Whether helping to stock shelves at our food pantries, hosting Brown Bag parties, sponsoring birthday parties for children living in our shelters, helping to clean-up our summer camp, tutoring teens in our afterschool programs, or mentoring young people, volunteers of all kinds enable our work to be richer and more effective.

We also rely on volunteers and their expertise for governance. Our Board of Trustees is an all volunteer board, and for the past six years the Catholic Charities Board of Trustees has been led by Jeffrey Kaneb, Vice President at HP Hood LLC. Jeff, whose second term as Board Chairman ended on Dec. 31, 2011, was an extraordinary leader: generous with his time, focused in his vision for and passionate about our work. Jeff is a community builder who led us through some challenging times.

Our new Board Chairman is James Gallagher, executive vice president and board member at John Hancock Financial Services. Jim's chairmanship began effective Jan. 1, 2012. We are truly privileged to have the benefit of Jim's leadership, especially at this time when the demand for the programs and services of Catholic Charities continues to grow.

We also rely on our community to support us financially by investing in the services our staff provides to needy families like the Huynhs, Johnny and George, every day. It was with the understanding of the important needs our programs and services meet that Cardinal Seán is supporting the first ever second collection for Catholic Charities, on the weekend of Jan. 21- 22 in all parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Strength and resilience, optimism and determination, compassion and generosity define the talented staff of our Catholic Charities programs. More than 600 strong, across 33 service sites and 100 programs our staff is amazing! On behalf of all of our staff and the families we serve, we thank you for all of your partnership and support of our work. You make it possible for Catholic Charities to help people in your community become self-sufficient and, in a challenging economy, provide many with the very basics of life -- food, fuel and shelter.

To learn more about our work, visit us at www.ccab.org.

Debbie Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.

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