Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas
Debbie started working at Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas in 1987 as a social worker and has served as its executive director for the past 12 years. She has been instrumental in the lives of many people including birth mothers, adoptive families, the homeless, immigrants and refugees. Her services are broad and diverse including providing: pregnancy counseling, housing and economic assistance, mental and behavioral services and disaster response and relief.
New initiatives and programs have commenced under her tenure including healthy marriage services, post incarceration mentoring for inmates and accreditation to provide resettlement and immigration assistance.
Diocese-wide, she has been professionally involved in the Gambling Taskforce, Head Start, Arrowhead West (a nonprofit serving children and adults with developmental disabilities) and facilitates Catholic social teaching courses.
“She continues to make a difference in the lives of people each day. We are so grateful for her selfless dedication to our diocese,” said Bishop John Brungardt.
Debbie’s day begins with morning prayer to lift up the concerns of the day, reflect on the people who come to the office with needs and pray for direction in guiding the staff of Catholic Charities. In her leadership role, she shares openly with the staff about how and why Catholic teaching influences our decisions. In a pastoral way, she discusses the importance of seeing the face of Christ in each person that comes to the door and being the face of Christ to them.
Last year, the agency provided services to 2,025 people and 85 volunteers assisted with 1,240 hours of service. The housing program accepted 118 people, with 88 percent of them achieving permanent housing and 46 percent increasing their income levels. The staff facilitated 29 life skills classes with 77 people attending these sessions and 67 housing clients attending the financial education sessions.
“Debbie is a talented and committed social worker and has provided outstanding leadership to the agency,” said Michael Stein, Board President, Catholic Charities Southwest Kansas. “Her unwavering focus on the agency’s mission of service to families and children is a clear sign of Christ at work in our midst.”
Father Robert Schremmer, Vicar General of the diocese, concurs. “Our very small diocese in our out-of-the-way part of the country faces many challenges,” he said. “Debbie not only brings soul and heart to our agency, she brings skill — skill that marshals limited resources, a dedicated staff and a committed board to reach out to immigrants, refugees, the working poor, teen moms, struggling couples, families in need of stable housing, incarcerated, adopting and adoptive parents and communities recovering from natural disasters.”
“Debbie is able to see with eyes of the heart enlightened by the vision of Christ,” he continued. “When Jesus saw the people, He had compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited. But he saw more. He saw a harvest. He saw possibility. Debbie, too, sees and leads us to see the dignity of human potential awaiting to be honored and invited to flourish through service and advocacy.”