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Monthly News & Updates

August 2022

 Dear Colleagues and Friends:

I wanted to share with you a story that appeared a few weeks ago – one that highlights the continued good work of Catholic Charities.

WHO-TV 13 was interested in talking to recent Afghan refugees about their experiences and their resettlement in Central Iowa. We were able to connect Reporter Taj Simmons with three clients, as well as Kelyn Anker, our refugee services manager. You can watch the segment and read the online article at:

As we have shared, an unprecedented number of Afghan refugees arrived in Des Moines last fall following the collapse of the country’s government and takeover by the Taliban. Through your generosity and support, the staff of Catholic Charities was able to step in to provide the important, multi-step process of helping people resettle in our community, as consistent with the varied guidelines set forth by the U.S. government.

Catholic Charities has assisted more than 300 Afghan refugees over the past nine months in securing a variety of essential needs (i.e., food, housing, support services, etc.) and moving towards the goal of self-sufficiency. This is something to celebrate! Thank you for your help by contributing your time, money, and/or donated items.

We know more refugees will come to Des Moines, and we are ready to assist them. This is why your continued support and prayers are needed, as the needs of this mission and all of the associated services will remain an important part of what Catholic Charities offers to refugees as well as to our communities.

In closing, please know that all of our programs are doing well. Our staff and services continue to be a hallmark of Catholic Charities’ legacy and mission. Thank you for your ongoing support of Catholic Charities.


With Blessings,

Barbara Q. Decker

Catholic Charities Executive Director

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In the News

WHO 13 TV: Afghanistan refugees settling into new Iowa lives

By Taj Simmons

DES MOINES, Iowa — It has been nearly a year since American troops left Afghanistan, but the journey is just getting started for the Afghanistan refugees who fled to America.

“It is very difficult to leave away from your family,” said Ashabudden Mokhles, a refugee in Des Moines who worked with American troops in his home country...

EVENT: Breakfast with the Bishop

August 17, 2022 at the Pastoral Center


BREAKFAST WITH THE BISHOP includes a light breakfast and spotlights particular Catholic Charities programs. The program features Bishop Joensen, Catholic Charities executive director Barbara Decker, and program managers from Catholic Charities.

Tickets & Info Here

Summer stress?

Summer presents all sorts of challenges as children are home from school, vacations and reunions take us out of our comfort zones, and summer to-do lists challenge finances and patience. Our team of professional therapists can offer important support as you navigate the summer months and beyond!

To schedule an appointment, call 515-237-5045.

CLICK HERE For more information about Catholic Charities Counseling Program.

Program Spotlight: Catholic Charities Emergency Family Shelter

Our 24/7 Emergency Family Shelter is busy, operating at capacity, averaging nine families for the last four months. Staffing continues to be a challenge.


Families at the shelter have a 30-day residency to find work, housing, education, services, and other needs, to create a sustainable living situation in the community. Case management is available to all guests to help with this process. A guest can stay for as long as 90 days if they have a waiting period to enter a housing opportunity.


Volunteers help our 24/7 staff with shopping, organization, meals, and other special projects. At the moment we need more meal providers to cover the evening meal. About ten days each month are currently available for volunteer meal providers. This can be a great family or group project. Many of our meal providers schedule for a particular day each month.  

For volunteer opportunities, contact Emily Klisares at 

or 515-237-5027.

Earlier this year, a mother of two boys, ages 17 and 8, decided to escape their dangerous situation in Chicago. Fearing for her boys’ safety, she moved to Des Moines without any money or idea what they could do. 

The family lived in their car before being referred to the Catholic Charities Emergency Family Shelter. 

While in shelter, the mother worked with Dan Zahn, Case Manager, and found a full-time job. The family worked hard to follow shelter rules and make the most of staff help.

After 34 days at the shelter, they were referred to the Rapid Rehousing Program. Staff members were able to find the family an apartment close to work and school. 

Since leaving the shelter, the family has checked in with Catholic Charities staff a few times to share updates. The mother is grateful for the help from the shelter and contributed a $100 donation to express her gratitude.  

Get involved in August!

Catholic Charities programs run throughout the year. We are always looking for people who want to help support our mission to empower individuals and strengthen families.

Here are some immediate needs:

Domestic Violence Shelter

  • Toiletry items
  • Black leggings & T-Shirts of all sizes
  • Nonperishable food items
  • Adult coloring books & colored pencils
  • Diapers – only sizes 1,2,4,5,6

Food Pantry

  • Toiletry items
  • Baby food/formula/diapers

Emergency Family Shelter

  • VOLUNTEER: Meal Provider
  • Baby wipes
  • Protein snacks
  • Unscented laundry powder detergent
  • Dishwasher pods & drying agent
  • Twin XL sheets & mattress pads

Refugee Services

  • Baking dishes
  • 3-4 gallon & 13-gallon trash bags
  • NEW rice or pressure cookers
  • Twin comforters 

To find out more about volunteering, immediate needs, and collection drives, contact Emily Klisares at or 515-237-5027.

Donor Spotlight: Gleaning for Good

“Gleaning events occur wherever food is in excess. In addition to supermarkets, gleaning can also occur at farms in the field. Volunteers, called gleaners, visit a farm where the farmer donates what is left in their fields to collect and donate to a food bank”. ~Wikipedia

A local family farmer took these principles to heart and invited Catholic Charities Food Pantry staff and volunteers to pick some "excess produce." He grows zucchini and yellow squash and markets the Grade A produce to local supermarkets.

As of July 25, his family has donated nearly 9,000 POUNDS of nutritious produce to Catholic Charities and other food rescue organizations in central Iowa.

We can confidently state that hundreds of families have benefited from this generous, nutritious gift throughout the community.

Glean with us!

If you are aware of excess food, have extra fruit or vegetables in your garden or orchard, or you would like to help volunteer ‘gleaning’, please reach out to Emily Klisares with Catholic Charities.

Sign up to VOLUNTEER

Your Support Serves Thousands in Central and Southwest Iowa

Catholic Charities Annual Appeal is the primary funding source for Catholic Charities along with government and private grant funding.

Donors who commit to an annual gift help strengthen and empower individuals and families through some of the most difficult times in their lives. Consider an annual gift that will help all year!

Donate Now

Shalom Lule to Work with Refugee Services Volunteers and Donations

When you drop off your new or gently used items at the Catholic Charities warehouse (3 College Ave, DSM) on any given Monday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., you will be greeted by a new face.

Shalom Lule started with Catholic Charities in March of 2022 as Transportation Aide and worked closely with Sam Hutchisson. When Sam moved into a Refugee Wellness Case Manager position, Shalom took over as Refugee Services Coordinator. He now coordinates refugee program volunteers, apartment setups, and in-kind donations. Congratulations Shalom!

Housing Coordinator featured on IPR River to River

Shazia Hussaini is the Housing Coordinator for Catholic Charities Refugee Services program. She arrived in the U.S. in December as part of the 2021 exodus from Afghanistan. Shazia worked for Catholic Charities as an interpreter soon after arriving and was hired as a full-time staff member in February of 2022. We are grateful that Shazia is on our team and can use her education, experience, and talents to help others!

You can listen to Shazia and Refugee Services Manager Kelyn Anker on the Iowa Public Radio show River to River that originally aired on Thursday, July 28, HERE.

Click here for Catholic Charities Employment Opportunities

Serving those in need within the Diocese of Des Moines

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Catholic Charities, Diocese of Des Moines serves those in need within the 23 counties of the Diocese of Des Moines in southwest Iowa. Our mission to empower individuals and strengthen families applies to anyone in need in the area, regardless of demographic. Our mission is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching. Our programs and services include refugee resettlement, professional counseling, food pantry, domestic violence and sexual assault shelter and services, emergency family shelter, case management, and more. We impact over 30,000 individuals each year.

Find more information about Catholic Charities at

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