The Sixers — and several archdiocesan ministries — got some support from the sidelines, as the annual Catholic Charities Appeal (CCA) took center court before a recent game.
As part of its annual “Night at the Sixers,” the CCA received proceeds from select ticket sales at the Sixers’ Feb. 20 match with the Brooklyn Nets.
Managed by the nonprofit Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia (CFGP), the appeal raises critically needed funding for programs that benefit tens of thousands of individuals throughout the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
In particular, the CCA focuses on social services, evangelization, education, parish and spiritual life, clergy and local mission activities.
Food cupboards, schools of special education, homeless shelters, family service centers and campus ministries are among the numerous archdiocesan outreaches that rely on critical support from the CCA.
CCA supporters scooped up 150 tickets, and longtime archdiocesan employee James Amato – who’s also a dedicated Sixers fan – was honored with an official Sixers jersey prior to the game.
“As a lifelong Philadelphian, the three most significant life influences have been my faith, my family and a love of Philadelphia’s professional sports teams – most especially the Sixers,” said Amato, secretary for archdiocesan Catholic Human Services, speaking ahead of the event.
Shortly before tip-off, Amato stepped onto the court with a few friends from CCA beneficiary organizations, who later attested to the impact of the programs supported by the campaign.
Dolores McGann said she enjoys both camaraderie and independence as a resident of the Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence (DGDP), part of archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS).
Licensed by Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services as intermediate care facilities (ICFs) for individuals with intellectual disabilities, the DGDP communities now offers a continuum of care through community and campus-based living arrangements, life sharing through family living, in-home supports, respite care and day programs.
“I get to go out with my friends to do activities and sometimes out to eat,” said McGann. “The staff here are my friends.”
Fellow community member Jack Abbott, who lives at one of the DGDP group homes in Swarthmore, made time for the pre-game appearance despite a busy schedule that includes regular attendance at the DGDP Fatima Day Program, volunteer shifts at a local nursing home and liturgical commitments as an altar server.
Thorman Taylor said that he has “high praise” for CCA beneficiary St. John’s Hospice, a downtown Philadelphia outreach that serves men experiencing homelessness.
St. John’s, which Taylor described as “a beautiful place,” provides more than 300 hot meals per weekday, along with residential services, case management, on-site nursing, showers and mailroom facilities.
Taylor, a trained carpenter and painter, credits the outreach with helping him “stay clean, focused and off the streets,” while fostering his faith through its spiritual fellowship group.
During the Feb. 20 game, the 76ers bested the Nets 112-104, but the real winners from the CCA event were watching from the bench, including Levi Lee.
Having grown up witnessing the ravages of drug abuse, Lee said that “a burden was lifted” as soon as he entered CSS’s Good Shepherd Program, a residential outreach that offers housing and social services to medically fragile men experiencing homelessness.
“When all else had failed, and I had no hope, no inspiration, no vision for tomorrow, I walked through the doors of Good Shepherd,” said Lee, who is now planning to continue his education. “God showed me there I hope, inspiration, and a better way to live.”
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