History

Our social ministry

After Most Reverend John J. Nevins was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida in 1984, attention turned to forming a Catholic Charities organization. The boundaries of an agency generally follow those of a diocese. Therefore, Catholic Charities was established to cover the same ten county areas of Manatee, Hardee, Highland, DeSoto, Lee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry and Glades.

Documents were filed with the Secretary of State on December 18, 1984, less than two months after the diocese was established. The corporation, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. was certified as a non-profit, charitable, benevolent body within the State of Florida. Among the purposes described in the Articles of Incorporation are: to advance charitable and social work within the diocese; to organize and govern branches or affiliated agencies; to engage in family and child welfare services; to collect and publish information regarding social welfare.

When the Diocese of Venice was created, a major social ministry program was already underway in Naples. Catholic Social Services of Collier County, initiated in 1968 by Catholic Community Services in Miami, was well staffed and governed by an active board. The board of directors consisted of area citizens, with an ecumenical orientation, and who were totally rooted in the community. The dynamic social ministry program in Collier County became a springboard for the development of the diocesan-wide Catholic Charities movement. An administrator from Miami's Catholic Charities, Arthur Granzier, directed the Naples agency. Bishop Nevins appointed Granzier as the first executive director of the newly formed Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc.

Today, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. has about 30 sites of combined office locations, housing developments and outreach services with over 125 staff under the guidance of Chief Executive Officer Peter Routsis-Arroyo. The organization offers more than 30 programs and services to the people of Southwest Florida. Catholic Charities has a governing Board of Directors and several Advisory Board of Directors. Each year, Catholic Charities serves around 40,000 people regardless of race, nationality or creed. With the continuing development and growth in population of Southwest Florida, Catholic Charities will strive to sustain the needs of the underprivileged well into the future.


Years of Service


1984:

  1. Bishop John J. Nevins founds Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc.

  2. The Advisory Board of Catholic Charities of Collier County creates the Emerald Charity Ball.

1985:

  1. Catholic Charities staff that is certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals processes over 8,000 alien persons.

1986:

  1. Hispanic Services of Catholic Charities is established in Fort Myers to provide services to the Latino-Hispanic population.

1988:

  1. The Bishop's Charity Ball is inaugurated in Sarasota to be the primary source of funding for financial assistance to the poor of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

1989:

  1. Sarasota office offers mental health counseling as well as financial help to the poor of Sarasota and Manatee counties.

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1990:

  1. A successful capital campaign results in the construction of a Catholic Charities building in Naples.

1991:

  1. Mr. and Mrs. Ubald Clement of Arcadia generously donate $250,000 for the construction of a Catholic Charities office to serve the people of DeSoto County.

  2. Our Mother's House of Catholic Charities, a program for young, single-parent mothers, opens in Venice.

1994:

  1. Guadalupe Social Services, in Immokalee, serving migrant farm workers, comes under the auspices of Catholic Charities.

1996:

  1. Catholic Charities serves 29,809 people.

1997:

  1. A total of 35,048 people are served by Catholic Charities.

1998:

  1. Clare House of Catholic Charities opens in Fort Myers offering direct assistance to needy women with infants and toddler age children.

  2. A respite program for caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease opens in Punta Gorda.

  3. The Venetian Charity Ball is inaugurated in Fort Myers to raise funds for programs in Lee County.

1999:

  1. Catholic Charities served a total of 48,055 people.

  2. Hispanic Services of Catholic Charities opens an office in La Belle.

  3. Catholic Charities opens an office in southern Sarasota to serve Venice, North Port and Englewood by offering outreach assistance to families in distress.

  4. Hispanic Services of Catholic Charities opens an office in Bonita Springs.

  5. School on Wheels program is started to offer tutoring to migrant families in their homes in Immokalee. St. Martha's Early Learning Center in Sarasota comes under the auspices of Catholic Charities.

  6. The Sugar Bowl Fund is established for needy families of South Sarasota County.

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2000:

  1. Catholic Charities serves 45,725 people.

  2. Catholic Charities develops a diocesan disaster response program.

  3. The Catholic Charities Foundation is launched to provide a source of permanent financial support for Catholic Charities services and programs. A governing board is established.

2001:

  1. Catholic Charities serves 46,000 people.

  2. Lee County offices receive licenses by the State of Florida to provide outpatient alcohol and substance abuse treatment within the county.

  3. The Refugee Resettlement, Employment and Assistance programs are expanded to Naples, Fort Myers, Venice and Sarasota.

  4. The Housing and Urban Development office of the U.S. government grants funding for an HIV/AIDS housing program in Sarasota.

  5. A diocesan-wide Catholic Charities Newsletter is established to increase the visibility of Catholic Charities.

  6. The Catholic Charities Family Resource Center in Naples relocates and expands in order to serve more families and individuals more efficiently.

2002:

  1. Catholic Charities serves 46,288 people.

  2. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. receives national accreditation from the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services (COA) on September 25, 2002. This achievement signifies that Catholic Charities meets or exceeds high quality standards and services comparable to any other social service agency in the nation.

  3. Charity Navigator, the largest evaluator of charities in America, awards Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. the highest four-star rating for its management of donations.

  4. Hispanic Services of Catholic Charities opens an office in Clewiston.

  5. The First Annual Christmas Appeal is launched. The campaign will serve as Catholic Charities major fundraising event.

  6. The Haitian Center of Catholic Charities relocates in Fort Myers to offer expansion of programs for clients.

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2003:

  1. Catholic Charities serves more than 45,000 people.

  2. For the second consecutive year, Charity Navigator, the largest evaluator of charities in America, awards Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. a four-star rating for its management of donations.

  3. Catholic Charities of Collier County, one of the longest running social service agencies in the area, celebrates 35 years of service.

  4. School on Wheels program expands to Naples.

  5. St. Martha's Early Learning Center receives the APPLE Accreditation from the Florida Association of Child Care Management (FACCM).

  6. The Bethesda House HIV/AIDS community center comes under the auspices of Catholic Charities.

  7. Catholic Charities of DeSoto County hosted the first annual Boots and Bandannas Dinner Dance as a fundraiser to support their programs.

  8. Our Mother's House, the only residential program for needy mothers and their children in the Diocese of Venice, celebrates groundbreaking of a new facility that will expand the Catholic Charities program to serve five additional families.

2004:

  1. Catholic Charities of Manatee County opens an office in Bradenton on the campus of Sacred Heart Parish.

  2. For the third consecutive year, Charity Navigator, the largest evaluator of charities in America, awards Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. a four-star rating for its management of donations.

  3. Catholic Charities establishes Catholic Charities Housing, Diocese of Venice, Inc. to provide clean, safe affordable housing the to needy. The need for this assistance grows especially in the wake of Hurricane Charley. A governing board is established.

  4. Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne devastate the Diocese of Venice. Catholic Charities establishes eight hurricane recovery sites, two shelter sites and four donation drop off sites to serve victims. An average of over 20,000 people receive assistance daily at the sites during the first two weeks of recovery after Hurricane Charley. Catholic Charities continues to offer long-term assistance to the hurricane victims.

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2005:

  1. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice serves almost 50,000 people.

  2. For the fourth consecutive year, Charity Navigator, the largest evaluator of charities in America, awards Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. the highest four-star rating for its management of donations.

  3. Catholic Charities Housing, Inc. forms four separate corporations to address affordable housing needs with projects in DeSoto, Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

  4. Our Mother's House, a residential program for homeless mothers and their children, opens a new facility along with completing renovation of the existing facility, doubling the capacity to serve needy families.

  5. The seven Catholic Charities agencies serving Florida sign an historic mutual aid agreement to provide a coordinated and cooperative response in times of disaster.

  6. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice offers assistance in Pensacola after Hurricane Dennis, in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, and throughout the Diocese of Venice after Hurricane Wilma. Long-term hurricane assistance continues to be provided for victims of the hurricanes in 2004.

  7. The Match Grant Program for Refugee Resettlement services is implemented, doubling the assistance available to refugees as they arrive in Southwest Florida.

2006:

  1. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. serves more than 40,000 people.

  2. Frank J. Dewane is assigned as Co-Adjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Venice. Catholic Charities establishes social services in Clewiston and LaBelle.

  3. Casa San Jose, a housing program for people with HIV/AIDS, opens in Sarasota.

  4. Food pantry deliveries are established throughout Highlands and Hardee counties by our sister agency, Catholic Charities of Central Florida.

  5. For the fifth consecutive year, Charity Navigator, the largest evaluator of charities in America, awards Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. the highest four-star rating for its management of donations.

  6. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. receives reaccreditation by the Council on Accreditation. This achievement signifies that Catholic Charities meets or exceeds high quality standards and services comparable to any other social service agency in the nation. The organization originally was awarded national accreditation in 2002.

  7. A total of $20 million is pledged toward the development of farm worker housing.

  8. Catholic Charities refugee and immigration programs expand to meet the demanding needs of clients in Southwest Florida.

  9. The Catholic Charities Foundation tops $1 million.

  10. Catholic Charities distributes disaster training manuals to all parishes in the Diocese of Venice and training is provided.

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2007:

  1. Bishop Frank J. Dewane is ordained Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, Florida.

  2. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. serves more than 40,000 people.

  3. For the sixth consecutive year, Charity Navigator, the largest evaluator of charities in America, awards Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. the highest four-star rating for its management of donations. Only 1% of U.S. charities have achieved this status.

  4. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. is the recipient of the Florida Governor's Humanitarian Award for Hurricane Recovery Efforts.

  5. The Sugar Bowl Fund hosts the inaguraul fundraising event "The Sugar Bowl Show of Shows."

  6. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc., receives two grants from the Florida Department of Children and Families, Office of Refugee Services to assist refugees relocating in the area. The Employability Status Assistance Program now operates in Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples. A Refugee Youth and Families Program operates in Naples.

2008:

  1. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. serves more than 40,000 people.

  2. For the seventh consecutive year, Charity Navigator, the largest evaluator of charities in America, awards Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. the highest four-star rating for its management of donations. Only 1% of U.S. charities have achieved this status.

  3. The 19th Annual Catholic Charities Ball raises a record amount of funding for programs in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

  4. Catholic Charities responds to devastating floods in Bonita Springs caused by Hurricane Fay. A total of 611 families are assisted.

  5. The Catholic Charities of Lee County office located on Michigan Link Ave. in Fort Myers is renamed and dedicated the Elizabeth Kay Galeana Center of Catholic Charities.

  6. The after-school tutoring program at the Haitian Center of Catholic Charities is moved to Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers. The program assists around 25 students every afternoon.

  7. Our Mother's House of Catholic Charities in Venice, a transitional residential program for mothers and their children, expands by adding another residential facility. The acquisition allows the program to serve seven additional families who otherwise would be at risk of becoming homeless.

  8. Catholic Charities experiences a 75% increase in demand for Financial Assistance services due to the bad economic conditions. Financial Assistance includes help with food, clothing, rent, utilities and prescriptions.

  9. HIV/AIDS Ministries of Catholic Charities expands outreach services to Port Charlotte, Fort Myers, Clewiston and LaBelle.

  10. Despite an unprecedented economic downturn, the annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal meets and exceeds its fundraising goal and reaches $361,200.

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2009:

  1. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. serves 41,112 people through 36 programs in one of the most difficult economic downtowns in Southwest Florida.

  2. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice celebrates 25 years of service to the people of Southwest Florida.

  3. Catholic Charities Housing, Diocese of Venice, Inc. opens Marion Manor a 31-unit apartment complex for low-income families in Port Charlotte.

  4. St. Martha's Early Learning Center in Sarasota reopens after renovation of two buildings and expansion of  services to low-income preschool students.

  5. The Catholic Charities Ball in Sarasota celebrates its 20th Anniversary with almost 400 patrons in attendance. The theme was "An Evening in Ireland" and featured dancers from the Drake School of Irish Dance.

  6. Catholic Charities of Collier County receives a $98,280 grant from the Naples Children and Education Foundation to serve abused, neglected and behaviorally impaired children.

  7. The African Caribbean American Catholic Center (AFCAAM), a program that serves the black community and other underserved populations in Lee County, comes under the auspices of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc.

  8.  The 8th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal raises $332,146.

2010:

  1. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. served 40,602 people throughout Southwest Florida.

  2. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. receives the top Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities, for sound fiscal management.

  3. The Human Trafficking Program of Catholic Charities is implemented in Lee County with collaboration with Florida Gulf Coast University and the Lee County Sheriff's Department.

  4. Our Mother's House of Catholic Charities in Venice opens a third residential building for homeless mothers and their children.

  5. Catholic Charities of Sarasota and Manatee Counties purchased and relocated to new offices located at 5055 North Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.

  6. The Emerald Ball in Naples celebrated its 25th Anniversary as the major fundraising event for Catholic Charities of Collier County.

  7. Catholic Charities USA celebrated its 100th anniversary.

  8. St. Martha's Early Learning Center of Catholic Charities and Our Mother's House of Catholic Charities began a collaboration with Children First of Sarasota County to offer quality early education to young clients.

  9. The African Caribbean American Catholic Center (AFCAAM), a program that serves the black community and other underserved populations in Lee County, starts a summer tutoring program.

  10. The 9th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal raises over $420,000.

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2011:

  1. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. served 39,812 people throughout Southwest Florida.

  2. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. receives the top Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities, for sound fiscal management.

  3. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. receives reaccreditation by the Council on Accreditation. This achievement signifies that Catholic Charities meets or exceeds high quality standards and services comparable to any other social service agency in the nation. The organization was also awarded national accreditation in 2002 and 2006.

  4. The 10th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal raises $465,032.

  5. The African Caribbean American Catholic Center (AFCAAM) After School Reading Program is recognized as "Stellar" by the Lee County Public School System.

  6. Catholic Charities Housing, Diocese of Venice, Inc. opens a housing complex in Sarasota for low-income families called St. Dominic Manor.

  7. Catholic Charities Housing, Diocese of Venice, Inc. breaks ground for $10 million housing community in Arcadia for farm workers and their families called Casa San Juan Bosco.

2012:

  1. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. served 40,182 people throughout Southwest Florida.

  2. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. receives the top Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of charities, for sound fiscal management.

  3. The 11th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal raises $480,440.

  4. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. assists with providing services to victims of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey.

  5. St. Martha's Early Learning Center of Catholic Charities in Sarasota receives building renovations and a new playground.

  6. Guadalupe Social Services of Catholic Charities in Immokalee opens the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen.

  7. Catholic Charities Housing, Diocese of Venice, Inc. opens St. Monica Residence in Sarasota for low-income families.

  8. The Boca Grande Child Care Center in Boca Grande comes under the auspices of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc.

  9. Catholic Charities Housing, Diocese of Venice, Inc. completes construction of Casa San Juan Bosco in Arcadia for farm workers and their families. The $10 million housing community has 53 homes, a community center, playground, soccer field and community garden.

  10. Catholic Charities of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties, Diocese of Venice, Inc. starts up a DUI Program in Bonita Springs.

  11. Catholic Charities of Collier County, Diocese of Venice, Inc. begins the Weekend Power Pack Food Program for homeless school children in Naples.

  12. Catholic Charities Housing, Diocese of Venice, Inc. opens Veterans Housing for a veteran and his or her family in Sarasota.

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2013:

  1. Catholic Charities Housing, Diocese of Venice, Inc. opens Casa San Juan Bosco in Arcadia for farm workers and their families. The occupancy of the 53-home community is 100 percent. Plans are underway for phase two of 44 additional homes and a second community center.

  2. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. served 41,480 people throughout Southwest Florida.

  3. The 12th Annual Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal raises $573,334.

  4. A new After School Program is started at Casa San Juan Bosco farm worker community in Arcadia.

  5. Catholic Charities of Collier County celebrates 45 years of serving the community.

  6. The 6th Annual Sugar Bowl Show of Shows has a record-setting attendance of 700 people.

  7. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. expands services for veterans and their families with rental assistance and case management.

  8. Catholic Charities of Sarasota and Manatee Counties offers counseling services in Palmetto.

  9. Catholic Charities of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties expands SNAP program with additional funding.

2014:

  1. Sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. a four-star rating from Charity Navigator. This is the 11th time that Catholic Charities has earned this top distinction in the last 13 years.
  2. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. was reaccredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) and was expedited through the Pre-Commission Review Report process as a result of not receiving any out of compliance ratings in any of the fundamental practice standards.

  3. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. was selected to operate a new homeless shelter for families in South Sarasota County. The Catholic Charities Family Haven will provide emergency intake and housing as well as long-term master care management.

  4. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. now provides one of the largest human trafficking victims assistance programs in the State of Florida.

  5. In partnership with Collier Senior Resources, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. opened the new Golden Gate Senior Access Center in Naples.

  6. Recognized as the finest farm worker housing development in the State of Florida, Casa San Juan Bosco will expand with opening phase two. Catholic Charities Housing, Diocese of Venice, Inc. received the necessary state and federal financing to build 44 new homes and a larger community center on 30 acres adjacent to the existing community.

  7. Through nine fundraising events, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. raised $1,042,527. These events include the Catholic Charities Ball, Venetian Charity Ball, Emerald Ball, Our Mother's House Wine Tasting, Boots and Bandannas, Mardi Gras Madness, Venice Veterans Gala, Sugar Bowl Show of Shows, and Charity Golf Classic.

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2015:

  1. Sound fiscal management practices and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. a four-star rating from Charity Navigator. This was the 13th time that Catholic Charities has earned this top distinction in the last 15 years.

  2. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. opened a homeless shelter for families in South Sarasota County. The Catholic Charities Family Haven provides emergency intake, temporary housing and long-term master care management. Catholic Charities purchased and renovated homes that allow families continuing assistance to achieve self-reliance.

  3. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. operates one of the largest human trafficking victims assistance programs in the State of Florida. It began as a pilot program in 2009 and hundreds of victims have been freed from  enslavement to become productive citizens in our communities.

  4. The newly opened Golden Gate Senior Center in Naples sees more than 100 elders every day who receive a nutritious hot meal and engaging activities. This burgeoning program is enlarging its services with the goal to combat isolation and apathy among seniors.

  5. Our Mother’s House of Catholic Charities has cared for more than 500 homeless mothers and their children with transitional housing and case management needed to become stable and independent. Additional apartments were purchased and renovated, and will open to young families who lack a secure home and existence.

  6. Construction of phase two of Casa San Juan Bosco of Catholic Charities farm worker community began and will add 44 new homes with a larger community center to provide a second location for the successful after school program for children and adult education classes.

  7. Through nine fundraising events, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, Inc. raised $1,014,375. These events include the Catholic Charities Ball, Venetian Charity Ball, Emerald Ball, Our Mother's House Wine Tasting, Boots and Bandannas, Mardi Gras Madness, Venice Veterans Gala, Sugar Bowl Show of Shows, and AFCAAM Charity Golf Classic.