Catholic Charities Kinship program is where families like Audrey’s find community and support


In Her Own Words: Audrey shares what the Catholic Charities Kinship program means to her family.
“My daughter, Arianne passed away unexpectedly on June 23, 2019, at the age of thirty-six, leaving behind three young children aged 4, 5 and 12 at the time.

In the wake of this devastating loss, my family embarked on a journey we never anticipated nor desired. We find ourselves yearning daily for Arianne’s presence to fill the void. In the midst of grief, we relied on Catholic Charities who offered us opportunities to connect with others in similar circumstances. Surrounded by fellow Catholic families grappling with similar grief, I’ve found solace and strength. Cooper, Joey and Cody are resilient, and I am grateful that we have resources now for them to deal with grief.

While we held a Mass and service at the time of Arianne’s passing, we have yet to lay her to rest. Plans for a Catholic Service at Mt. Olivet Cemetery this summer offer hope that our younger children will come to understand the concepts of death and heaven.

My days are devoted to caring for the children, leaving little room for work outside the home. However, through programs like the Kinship program offered by Catholic Charities, we find a sense of community and support. Monthly gatherings at Notre Dame Church provide a space for us to connect with families facing similar challenges, while the children benefit from religious education classes and community events.

A particularly poignant moment was a court ceremony (where full custody was granted to Audrey) conducted on October 23, 2023, in the same room where we held our Kinship family meetings. This event served as a significant step in our healing journey, made more comforting by the children’s familiar surroundings.

We eagerly participate in activities organized by Kinship, providing moments of joy and connection for the children. Despite financial constraints, these events offer invaluable experiences, like Cooper’s fond memory of meeting a Kinship team member at a ropes course event.

Looking ahead, Joey, the youngest child, plans to perform a skit from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at an upcoming luncheon and talent show, a testament to his growth and resilience. We’re immensely grateful for the legal support we’ve received, including assistance with Special Needs Trust Funds and adoption fees, ensuring the children’s long-term well-being.

Throughout our journey, food has been a constant source of comfort and support, provided generously by our community. Volunteer teachers offer invaluable support for the children, allowing us adults to address our own needs during meetings.

As we reflect on the past year, the support we received during Christmas was particularly impactful. Gift cards and presents brought joy to the children, with our two youngest, Cooper and Joey, receiving brand new bicycles.

I’m inspired to advocate for grieving programs tailored to special needs children, drawing from our Catholic faith and the example of Mary’s sorrow. I use the Pieta image to explain the Blessed Virgin Mary’s sixth Sorrow – with the loss of Jesus. I have the goal to work with our Catholic faith and develop a grief program based on Mary’s experience. Our family remains profoundly grateful for the unwavering support we’ve received since day one.”