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Organizations find something to believe in at PFS

A volunteer helps students with their homework as part of the after school homework club at Providence Family Services in Chicago.

To know Providence Family Services (PFS) is to believe in the work it does; or so seem to attest two recent grants awarded the not-for-profit charity.

From its beginnings in 1993 with two bi-lingual counselors, Providence Family Services, located at 1540 N. Monticello Ave. in Chicago, has grown to also include English-as-a-Second-Language classes, after-school homework help, computer classes, parenting classes and citizenship classes. A sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., PFS serves the largely Spanish-speaking and often struggling population of the Humboldt Park region of Chicago.

Recently both Popular Community Bank (PCB) and the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Ill. donated money to support the continued efforts of PFS. Recommendations for each grant came from someone who knew the ministry well and believed in it.

Josephine Pacheco, Assistant Vice-President /Branch Manager of the Popular Community Bank North Ave Branch nominated PFS for the Popular Community Bank grants, of which PFS was awarded $1,000 toward its counseling program and $1,000 toward providing citizenship classes.

Pacheco became acquainted with PFS as her bank provided its banking services. She was so impressed by the work she saw being done that she joined the effort herself, agreeing last year to serve on Providence Family Services’ Board of Directors.

Pacheco sees a real need for the counseling program that Popular Community Bank has chosen to support.

“The community that we both serve consists of heavily Hispanic neighborhoods with high levels of poverty and crime. They are proud folks and will hesitate to ask for help. These are difficult economical times and many families in our community are going through hardship. The [counseling] services that PFS provides are a blessing in helping our community survive,” she said.

Likewise she sees the benefits of citizenship classes.

“Our community consists of low-to-moderate-income families. Many are just arriving to the US or have been here awhile and are eager to better themselves. Citizenship courses and preparation can be costly and intimidating. PFS’ citizenship classes prepare them for the citizenship test by making these future citizens feel comfortable and confident in their abilities,” Pacheco said.

Popular Community Bank is dedicated to strengthening the social and economic well-being of the communities it serves. Grants are awarded through a wholly employee-funded foundation. Over the past several years, the Banco Popular Foundation has granted more than $1.5 million dollars to grass-roots organizations sponsored by its employees.

Popular Community Bank also supports the community through volunteer service. Each employee is given up to 16 paid hours of community service per year. Last year Popular Community Bank’s North Branch staff members volunteered two hours a week during business hours in the afterschool homework help program at Providence Family Services.

“This is a reflection of how dedicated our bank is to the communities we serve. My staff enjoyed tutoring the children. We look forward to doing it again next school season,” Pacheco said.

Sister Patty Fillenwarth, PFS’ director, is grateful for all the support Popular Community Bank has invested.

“They’ve been a good bank to work with, and especially so these last few years. They are interested in the entire community. They see that what we do is beneficial to the entire community, and therefore they are glad to help us,” Fillenwarth said.

As for Pacheco’s commitment, it is personal as well as professional.

“Many of my family members live in the Humboldt Park area, and I have seen for myself the struggles of this community. The bank may not be able to provide big dollars, but by also being involved and volunteering to help organizations such as PFS, we can help make a little dent in making the world a better place,” Pacheco said.

A second grant for $7000 was awarded to Providence Family Services by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Ill. This grant funds projects that serve underprivileged populations. The $7000 will go to pay for a library of reading materials to be used as recommended to counseling clients and to pay for baby-sitters for children of adults attending classes at PFS.

This grant was recommended by Sister Patricia Stark, OP, has been working as a counselor at PFS since 2000 and is a member of the Springfield Dominican order of religious sisters. She sees first-hand the positive impact that PFS has on the lives of its clients.

“Some of the people I see are able to change their thought patterns to a more positive way of thinking. Having the opportunity to voice their concerns: worries, fears, anger, frustrations, etc. affords them the opportunity to redirect their energies in a more positive way, and seek out healthy solutions,” Stark said.

“At Providence Family Services we are able to serve those people who often have no other alternative for counseling services because they do not have insurance or the means to pay excessive fees. Our sliding scale payment system is very low, and people tell us they come to PFS because they cannot afford to pay higher fees. These are the people who would go without the care that we are able to provide at PFS,” she said.

Fillenwarth says this funding will help with two much-needed areas.

“At PFS we provide childcare with no cost to people, just at our expense. Many could not come if they did not have anyone to take care of their children. And the books are very important. They help people to continue their healing outside of the time they are here with us. They help them to do more for themselves,” Fillenwarth said.

“We are very grateful to everybody who has helped us, because we couldn’t do it without them. It is wonderful that they have done this, and that they continue to help us,” she said.

For more information about the services provided by Providence Family Services or for ways you could help, call Sister Patty Fillenwarth at 773-235-8264 or visit www.GuerinOutreachMinistries.org.

About the Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence, a Congregation of nearly 250 women religious, with more than 280 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries may be found at SistersofProvidence.org.

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Amy Miranda

Amy Miranda is a Providence Associate of the Sisters of Providence and a staff member in their Mission Advancement office. Amy is a 1998 graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She currently manages the SP publication HOPE and works on marketing support for Providence Associates, new membership and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.
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For inquiries or information, contact Jason Moon at jmoon@spsmw.org or 812-535-2810.

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