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Delnita McGhaw helped Tanya Harwick gather clothing at St. Patrick Center in St. Louis. Delnita found a gateway to new life at St. Patrick Center, where she now serves as an intake specialist.
Delnita McGhaw helped Tanya Harwick gather clothing at St. Patrick Center in St. Louis. Delnita found a gateway to new life at St. Patrick Center, where she now serves as an intake specialist.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

ANNUAL CATHOLIC APPEAL | Making miracles happen

At St. Patrick Center, compassion fosters community

The Annual Catholic Appeal pledge drive, originally scheduled to take place in most parishes April 18-19, April 25-26 and May 2-3, has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pledge drive will be held in parishes at a later date. Parishioners may still donate to the Appeal online at aca.archstl.org


Delnita McGhaw knows what it’s like to be homeless. She once lost everything because of alcoholism.

“I became a different person,” she said. “My life turned upside down and also the lives of my family and loved ones,” she said.

While homeless and facing life-threatening situations, she found a gateway to a new life at St. Patrick Center, a Catholic Charities of St. Louis federated agency.

Now an intake specialist at St. Patrick Center, Delnita’s experience affords an empathetic approach to welcoming clients such as Tanya Harwick, who explained that she lost all her possessions when the home she rented in St. Louis’ Dutchtown neighborhood caught fire.

Delnita McGhaw talked with Tanya Harwick at St. Patrick Center. St. Patrick Center, which is supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal, serves people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston
“I can feel that,” Delnita said. “You have my condolences.”

Immediately, Delnita inquired about Tanya’s needs and assured her of help. Though Delnita was due for her lunch break, she first helped Harwick select food and clothing. It’s a common act of charity at St. Patrick Center, which serves people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“Thank you,” said Tanya, who said she has been staying in the basement of a relative’s home and was seeking permanent housing. “You guys are a blessing. I’ll pray for you.”

Delnita was living at a shelter for women when she was referred to St. Patrick Center for treatment and help with other issues. She took a job washing clothes for clients of the center and then worked cleaning the building through another St. Patrick Center program. After working a job at a downtown hotel, she was offered the intake specialist job.

“I love it. I get to work with people just like me,” Delnita said.

It takes patience in dealing with clients, and she relies on her prayer life for strength. “They come in lost, lonely, terrified, don’t know what to do. So I treat them like they’re very special,” she said of the clients.

St. Patrick Center helped strengthen her faith. Now, Delnita said, “God has priority in my life, and He’s the reason I’ve made it this far.”

As a client, Delnita learned about a retreat at St. Patrick Center, the Ignatian Spirituality Project. It offers people who are homeless and in recovery from addiction a foundation of hope and long-lasting transformation. The retreats incorporate Ignatian spirituality exercises — a series of meditations, prayers and mental exercises to help people discern God’s will for their lives and grow closer to Him.

It helped her realize she’s not alone in dealing with struggles and gave her strength in other challenging times, including when her son was murdered in 2014. She moved from a guest to a witness and now a facilitator in the Ignatian program.

Delnita McGhaw talked with Tanya Harwick at St. Patrick Center.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston
Delnita has a bit of a fan club among clients who are in programs at St. Patrick Center. Kim Miley, who visited her caseworker to get information on a job opportunity, said Delnita is “courteous, helpful, informative and a delight.”

Tamika Stallworth, also a client, called Delnita “a positive advocate for women in need.”

Delnita said the support of the Catholic community through the Annual Catholic Appeal is crucial to the center. “Please continue,” she implored. “We need the help. None of the work we do will continue without the gifts we receive. And every little bit counts.”

Delnita cited a woman who was homeless and abused. St. Patrick Center searched for a safe place for the woman, transported her there and followed up on her. Other clients have physical or mental illnesses. St. Patrick Center addresses those problems, then provides other services.

“Miracles happen every day at St. Patrick Center. Every day. I’m an example,” Delnita said.

How to donate

The financial goal of the 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal is $14.5 million. Approximately 91 cents of every dollar raised goes back into the community in the form of direct services. The Annual Catholic Appeal pledge drive, originally scheduled to take place in most parishes April 18-19, April 25-26 and May 2-3, has been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pledge drive will be held in parishes at a later date. Parishioners may still donate to the Appeal online at aca.archstl.org

To learn more about the Annual Catholic Appeal, visit aca.archstl.org.

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