(Baltimore, MD., Sept. 28, 2018)
When John Matthews-Bey walked his little girl into her Baltimore City Head Start classroom 40 years ago, he had no idea that he’d remain at Head Start decades later as a much beloved and appreciated teacher.
“For me, it’s all about the children. You have to love the children,” said Matthews-Bey, who was one of 113 Catholic Charities colleagues honored during the 42nd Annual Employee Milestone Luncheon, which was held aboard the Spirit Cruise Ship on Sept. 28.
“When the children and the parents come to school, I always let them know they’re welcome here,” said Matthews-Bey. He beamed as Executive Director Bill McCarthy read letters from parents and students praising Matthews-Bey as a role model.
The milestone luncheon and cruise through Baltimore’s Inner Harbor toward the Francis Scott Key Bridge fell on a warm and sunny day, which was a welcome break from the rain. The employees ranged from St. Vincent’s Villa classroom aides to Esperanza Center case managers, public school therapists, and caregivers from Gallagher Services and Jenkins Senior Living.
“It is an honor to be here today with such a committed group of colleagues,” said McCarthy, who noted that the breadth of staff in attendance reflects the wide range of services offered by Catholic Charities throughout Central Maryland. “I’m so thankful for your dedication in successfully serving people in need each and every day!”
Ezra Buchdahl, a 35-year employee and the current administrator of St. Vincent’s Villa, echoed McCarthy’s sentiments. “Working with dedicated and committed people who share my passion for improving the lives of others is a joy. I’m also grateful to Catholic Charities for the opportunity to do what I love!”
For Jermin Laviera of Esperanza’s Client Services, her commitment to helping others is also what has kept her faithful to the Esperanza Center for three decades. “I love what we’re doing here at the center,” she said. “I come to work to help people, and I love what I do.”
Laviera ’s 30-year odyssey with the Catholic Charities began on her wedding day. “A few hours after getting married, my husband took me to the Esperanza Center to enroll in English as a second language class,” she said. “I had just arrived from Venezuela a week before and I spoke no English, but I thought I was going on my honeymoon.”
All honorees gathered in the ship’s dining room for a buffet lunch and the recognition ceremony, which was punctuated by enthusiastic applause. In addition to McCarthy, the staff was recognized by Assistant Director Mary Anne O’Donnell, Community Services Director Amy Collier, Senior Services Director Arnold Eppel, Family Services Director Kevin Keegan, Chief Development Officer Rita Walters and Finance Director Scott Becker. Becker also celebrated his 10th year of employment with Catholic Charities.
Later, staff enjoyed the warm breeze and sun from the upper deck of the ship. “This is so nice,” said Donita Green Blake, a 20-year employee at Gallagher Services in Timonium who sat with her colleague, Marsha Young, who has worked for Gallagher Services for 15 years.
FACTOID: Catholic Charities of Baltimore is the largest nonprofit service provider in the state of Maryland. Our organization has the fifth highest number of full-time employees out of the 167 diocesan Catholic Charities that are members of the Catholic Charities of USA. The top five Catholic Charities include: #1 – Seattle with 2,600 full-time employees, followed by Chicago, New York City, Brooklyn/Queens and in fifth place Baltimore.