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School supplies help Pathways families get off to good start

With three boys heading back to school, Ramona Brown credits for Catholic Charities of St. Louis taking "a lot of headaches off me," after learning about the variety of school supplies in backpacks the children received Aug. 9.

Catholic Charities distributed school supplies to children of families enrolled in its Pathways to Progress initiative. Brown's family enrolled in the initiative about a month ago. She was accompanied by her three polite and outgoing boys who were soon to go back to classes in the Riverview Gardens School District. Isaiah Brown, the youngest of the three, went through the backpack to get a look at the notebooks, composition journal, pens, pencils and other items. He turned to the Catholic Charities staff, smiled, and shouted, "Thank you."

Ramona Brown has four children at home and finds it difficult to survive on her salary as a home-care worker. With the school supplies provided, she said, her children can rest easy and get a good start to the school year.

Pathways to Progress is designed to strengthen families struggling with life in poverty. With community partners, Catholic Charities provides intensive, long-term case management to empower families, helping them achieve stability and long-term economic independence. The focus is to build a stronger community one family at a time.

Ramona Brown said her goal is to provide for her family "without living check to check. I want to be independent and lead a better life."

Colleen Smyth, project coordinator for Catholic Charities, said the effort was conducted with help of Catholic Charities Advisory Council members. Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers, North County Incorporated and the chairman of Catholic Charities board of directors pitched in, too. Catholic Charities staff went shopping for uniforms and gym clothes with some families. Some canned goods were available for families at the distribution at Holy Name of Jesus Parish in Florissant.

The program is based in north St. Louis County, which has an increasing rate of impoverished families. 

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