"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

Jeremy Woodhead, new director of Martha & Mary House, knows a thing or two about human services. He's spent the past 14 years helping people of all different walks of life, specifically in the drug and alcohol field through inpatient and outpatient programs, the prison, with DUI offenders, and in methadone maintenance. Now, the Johnstown native has returned home to help those in need right here in our community.

"I hope that my compassion for helping people will impact Martha & Mary House the most," he said. "I believe that everyone deserves a chance and has a right to get help, despite their situation."

On March 2, 2015, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown officially opened its homeless shelter at 899 Bedford St. in Johnstown. The Martha & Mary House will provide support, safety, and hope to individuals and families in Cambria County in the form of shelter, planning, and caring case managers. The shelter can accommodate up to 15 people, and residents can stay for up to 30 days--enough time to secure financial stability and a more permanent residence.

Catholic Charities received generous donor and grant support to fund appliances, furniture, home goods, supplies, and operational expenses to open the doors. Catholic Charities will continue to work to raise funds for ongoing expenses. The Redevelopment Authority obtained government grants to complete $600,000 in major renovations to the facility. We are extremely grateful for all their work and support. Contributions to Catholic Charities for the shelter project were used exclusively to furnish, outfit and equip the facility for its opening, and new contributions will cover operating expenses for this much-needed community resource.

The ambitious and much-needed Martha & Mary House would not be possible without the many individuals, organizations, businesses, and churches of various denominations that provided generous financial support needed to open the doors. Ongoing community support will be necessary to maintain the shelter and the needs of those staying there.

Our Annual Catholic Charities Recognition Dinner is quickly approaching. Each year, we award select individuals with the Matthew 25 Youth Humanitarian Award and the Monsignor William M. Griffin Humanitarian Award.

The Matthew 25 Youth Humanitarian Award is given to up to two elementary and up to two high school students for demonstrating exceptional service to their communities, specifically the poor and needy.

The Monsignor William M. Griffin Humanitarian Award is given to individuals demonstrating a significant, long-term commitment (professional or volunteer) to serving the poor, marginalized, and most vulnerable within our diocesan community.

Click on the links above to learn more about each award and to download the nomination forms. Nominations are due by March 22, 2016.

Award winners will be recognized at the Catholic Charities Annual Recognition Dinner on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at the Blair County Convention Center.

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