Catholic Community Services celebrates its 65th birthday

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 10 2010 11:24 p.m. MST

The Most Rev. John C. Wester received the Humanitarian of the Year Award during the awards dinner Wednesday.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Volunteers waited at the doors to answer questions, the guests mingled with smiling faces and drinks in hand and the atmosphere was buzzing with enthusiasm.

Catholic Community Services was celebrating its 65 birthday, which also happened to be the 100th birthday celebration of its national partnership, Catholic Charities USA. Catholic Community Services is an organization that opens its doors to all in need with a "no questions asked policy."

"Anyone who comes in gets a hot meal every day, said Development Associate Carrie Fresser. "We have all the humanitarians in our community to thank for that."

Attending the celebration were civic leaders alongside religious leaders — Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Gary Bell next to Elder Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Carol Mikita of KSL, who took the audience on a trip to the past, conducted the birthday celebration. Stories were told of the how the past 65 years of service has translated into 65 years of helping the community.

The first story told went back to 1949, when Catholic Community Services helped create families with the adoption sector of the organization. Though it does not help with adoptions anymore, the memories and the families it created will always be remembered.

The celebration also honored great humanitarians of Utah. CCS started by recognizing one of its own, employee of the year Buu Diep. Diep was once a refugee from Vietnam who the CCS helped resettle in the United States. She repaid it by joining the organization and passing on the love and compassion that was once shown to her.

The humanitarians who were recognized for their help in creating a community for those less fortunate included Maggie St. Claire and Pamela J. Atkinson. Both women were described as forces within the community who get things accomplished, with big hearts and great brains.

CCS also recognized Sister Julie Beck, general president of the LDS Relief Society, for helping those in need.

Named Humanitarian of the Year was the Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake, who has helped create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for anyone in need.

CCS also recognized an Unsung Hero of Utah. That award went to Ray and Sarah Osborn. The Osborns are not public figures but they have helped change and shape the lives of three refugees who have escaped horror in their home county. They were honored for welcoming three young boys from Myanmar into their warm and loving home. They have provided the boys the opportunity to live in America, and according to the family, the boys use every resource they have to work hard in school and learn as much as they can. The Osborns realize they will never be able to replace their foster sons' real parents but they hope they can be looked at as "bonus parents" or "their family in America."

The celebration ended with a musical interlude performed by Sara Larsen, who sang "You Raise Me Up," and Gov. Herbert stood to thank the CCS.

"It is about the people," said Herbert, a message that summed up the emotions of the night. To find out more about Catholic Community Services or how to volunteer visit its website at www.ccsww.org.

e-mail: kcox@desnews.com

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