Donor Stories

Donors are a vital part of Catholic Charities Atlanta. Without support from friends and sponsors, Catholic Charities Atlanta would be limited in its ability to reach those with the most critical needs within our community. Much like our clients, every donor has a story of how Catholic Charities has impacted their lives and, in turn, inspired them to support our important mission and vision.

Deenie McKeever

“It is a joy to support their ministry with my finances and my prayers.”

Deenie McKeever has always been serious about stewardship. In 2006, she experienced a deepening of faith and became a member of the Catholic Church. Moved by its teachings to reach out to all of God’s children in need, Deenie was drawn to the diverse ministries of Catholic Charities Atlanta. “I was thrilled,” she said, “to find out about their mission to ‘Provide Help, Create Hope.’” During a visit to Catholic Charities Atlanta’s office, she was struck by the patience and compassion of its staff. “They really persevere. They don’t stop at band-aid solutions,” she stated. “The case workers hang in there with the clients, empowering both children and adults to escape poverty, injustice, and abuse.”

When Catholic Charities Atlanta initiated its first Gala fundraising event in 2008, Deenie was eager to lend a hand on the planning committee. “It is a joy,” she said, “to support their ministry with my finances and my prayers.” Since then, she has generously contributed to agency efforts through sponsorships and other donations. “God calls us to be joyful givers and prudent stewards,” she shared. “It is a privilege to be able to support the work of Catholic Charities Atlanta and its outreach to people in desperate circumstances.”

Mary Ellen and Scott Garrett

“We put our faith in organizations that have the know-how and expertise to reach those in need and do the most good.”

Mary Ellen and Scott Garrett have a long history of helping Atlanta charitable organizations. Through their giving spirit and unique professional talents, they have served on boards and committees throughout much of their careers.

“Mary Ellen and I know that we cannot directly affect the people who need assistance the most in our community,” Scott shared, “so we put our faith in organizations that have the know-how and expertise to reach those in need and do the most good.” Professionally, Mary Ellen is Senior Vice President with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, and Scott is president of Garrett Group Marketing Communications. Even with very demanding careers, the Garretts have found ways to channel their energies and experience into organizations with missions that speak to their values.

Having been introduced to Catholic Charities Atlanta CEO Joe Krygiel by a mutual friend, the Garretts quickly became intrigued with Catholic Charities’ fundraising efforts. “We were both finishing up previous nonprofit board work and had decided to take a break,” Mary Ellen recalls. “But the Lord works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?”

Scott and his firm were instrumental in the kick-off of the Good Samaritan Guild, an annual giving society at Catholic Charities Atlanta. The message and outreach to this special group of donors was exactly the project that he and Mary Ellen wanted to be a part of and their spirit and enthusiasm has inspired others to join them as the Guild continues to grow year after year. They have also served on the Gala planning committee and as Gala chairs in 2010.

“Reconnecting with so many of our Catholic friends and acquaintances just feels good…good to be involved and help get others involved for a common goal,” Mary Ellen said. “I’d like to see this message become second nature for the Catholic community,” Scott added.

The Garretts not only support Catholic Charities financially. They are also dedicated to helping educate others about the work of Catholic Charities and its many opportunities to serve others. They believe Catholic Charities is one way to help the metropolitan Catholic community get connected and stay connected.

Dr. and Mrs. Carl Hug

Family is clearly very important to Marilyn and Carl Hug, who married at the tender age of 19 and recently celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. With four daughters, one son, twelve grandchildren and one great-grandchild, it requires extra effort to gather together for as many Christmases and beach vacations as possible.

A few Christmases ago, the adult members of the family had had enough of all of the shopping stress with purchasing gifts for one another – not another sweater, the latest electronic gadget, or a cologne & lotion set! The Hugs’ daughter Lynn made a suggestion that they pool the money they would have spent on material gifts and select one significant charity to which they could all make a sizable donation together.

Armed with Charity Navigator, Guide Star, Better Business Bureau ratings and as much research as they could gather, the Hugs went after their charitable giving decision very seriously. They agreed upon the requirement that their gift must go to a charity where over 85% of donations go directly into service programs. The Hug family didn’t have to look far for one such donation and selected Catholic Charities Atlanta to receive their family’s Christmas giving. Their unique and generous Christmas offering has allowed Catholic Charities Atlanta to continue to ‘Provide Help, Create Hope’ for our neighbors in need.

Ryan and Jackson Erminio

When Jennifer Erminio was pregnant with her first son, Ryan, she and her husband, Kevin were informed that the baby had serious health issues and were advised to terminate the pregnancy. They never considered this an option and turned to prayer, their strong faith, and staying in good health. Jennifer had always been very close to her parents, Diane and Jack, and as her complicated pregnancy progressed, she saw the two transform very dramatically from her doting parents to grandparents who had their priorities set on being there for their grandchildren under any circumstances. Overnight, they became Papa Jack and Granny Diane. Ryan was born and after a few tense days in the hospital, he was pronounced perfectly healthy. Two years later, Kevin and Jennifer were blessed with Ryan’s little brother, Jackson.

When the two brothers were old enough, Granny Diane and Papa Jack established a great summer tradition that became known as “Granny Camp.” The two boys would travel with Jennifer to the Chicago area to spend time with their grandparents. Each summer, Granny Diane makes elaborate plans for fun activities to do with the boys, and Papa Jack makes sure that plenty of sports and outings are in the mix. For the past several years, in order to make sure they have a little extra spending money for their big trip, a special savings jar has been established – one in Atlanta and one in Chicago. The Erminios put in extra change or money the boys earn from chores, and their grandparents do the same thing – tossing in money here and there to save up for splurges at Granny Camp.

Ryan and Jackson came to the realization a few years ago about all that money being saved in the jar and told Papa Jack, “We don’t really need this money, Papa – we need to give it to someone else!” And the Granny Camp jars turned into the Giving jars!

After hearing a fellow parishioner speak about the important work of Catholic Charities Atlanta at Mass on Sunday, the Erminio boys decided to part with their Giving jar proceeds for the benefit of Catholic Charities and its clients. These funds were matched by their grandfather, Papa Jack. After hearing the work of Catholic Charities and how they could help, especially other children, they were moved to donate it all and forego some goodies during the summer at Granny Camp.

Will Dempsey

“I just knew where the money would best be used.”

Will Dempsey has a special connection to Catholic Charities that goes back to his infancy. Will is always very open and willing to share his life’s story of having been adopted through the Catholic Charities program in Lowell, Massachusetts. Recently, Will was fortunate enough to reunite with his birth mother and now knows, not only from his own perspective, but also from his birth mother’s perspective how truly important the guidance and support that she received from Catholic Charities was for both of them.

Will has taken his affinity for Catholic Charities in several directions, working as a volunteer for the Gala for several years while serving as a leader at the Cathedral of Christ the King and their Young Adult Ministry, Will was instrumental in Catholic Charities benefiting from the ministry’s recent Christmas collection from their membership.

Perhaps most unique and notable is that Will is a published author. He has taken his deep knowledge of aviation and his strong Catholic faith to complete the exciting novel Final Delivery. Royalties from the book sales are being donated to Catholic Charities. “I had never told anyone about what I intended to do with the book,” he said, “but when it began to sell, I just knew where the money would best be used.”

Christy Nee

In 2010, Christy Nee made a decision to accomplish something she never thought she could do. She set her sights on the Atlanta half marathon, run bright and early on Thanksgiving morning.

Shortly after she started the physical training, Christy realized she needed more than just personal motivation. She wanted to run to support a cause, and as her husband was serving as the chair of the Catholic Charities Atlanta Board of Directors, she was well aware of the agency’s work in the community and selected Catholic Charities as the beneficiary of her endeavors. She certainly wanted to raise money, but thought that raising awareness would be an equally worthy accomplishment.

Her training runs became easier, and on those longer runs, she kept something top of mind: each step will help someone in need. To spread the word about her commitment to complete her goal and share the good works of Catholic Charities Atlanta, Christy utilized a unique online fundraising website and other social media outlets. Her excitement in her race day preparations and commitment to the mission of Catholic Charities Atlanta inspired dozens of contributions in her honor from friends, family, coworkers and neighbors.