By Kathy Ficcadenti

By Kathy Ficcadenti

Giving just a few dollars allows someone to start a new day with a decision to make: to choose life, to choose hope.

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In June 2020, the unemployment rate fell to 11.1%, after skyrocketing to 14.7% two months earlier. As we brace ourselves for the possible second wave of COVID 19, Employment Services strives to meet the needs of the unemployed and underemployed.

This means broadening our services to meet the needs of diverse groups of people by offering remote coaching sessions, resume building, and contactless one-on-one services. Each situation is unique, from homeless individuals to skilled workers we are dedicated to meeting each client where they are in life to enhance their mental, physical, and financial well-being.

One thing we offer consistently is a sense of hope and confidence for¬ people as they face life’s challenges. Sometimes, just by believing in them we help move them out of poverty and change the trajectory of their lives. Wesley is a client we met in 2015 and did just that.

Wesley’s early life was filled with poverty and trauma. Without the guidance he needed, he fell into drug abuse, eventually leading to homelessness. He spent the next 15 years on the street until he went to prison where he stayed for another 15 years.

After his release in 2015, Wesley resided at an area halfway house where he made the decision to apply for disability, not because he was disabled, but because he really believed there were no other options available. Trying to find something to do with his time, he followed another parolee to Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph and attended the employment workshop.

Looking back, he sees this as a major shift in his story. After attending many workshops, he decided he wanted to work and shortly thereafter obtained employment though a partnering temporary service. It was at this point that everything started falling in to place.

Wesley started to understand he had all the tools he needed for self-fulfillment. He soon got hired on permanently and has since been promoted to supervisor. Once committed to the idea that he had little value, he was now filled with hope for the future. Today, Wesley earns enough money from his job to pay his bills and live comfortably, but he also works as a mechanic in the evenings and weekends. All this additional income he makes only to give it away.

For the past few years, Wesley goes out into the community four to five days each week and gives up to $25.00 to the individuals he meets, most of whom are homeless.

“My goal is to give money to someone I can help,” Wesley said. “It feels good to touch someone’s life, because that used to be me! Giving just a few dollars allows them to start a new day with a decision to make: to choose life, to choose hope.”

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Sometimes, he gives donations directly to Catholic Charites or other organizations within the community. His belief is that together we can work together to create a “giving cycle.” Just as Catholic Charities touched him with hope and compassion, he does the same for others. He sees that the more he gives, the more he gets back. “I can’t give it away as fast as God gives it to me. I can’t get rid of the money fast enough.”

In five years, Wesley went from sad and lost, to a shining pillar in our community. His debts of the past have long since been paid. Now he is paying it forward, as he makes incremental offerings to individuals that add up an extraordinary contribution to humanity.

For more information on our Employment Services, please call Dionne Blake at (816) 659-8258 or


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