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Local agencies combine to better serve youth, elderly and needy in Omaha

Catholic Charities, one of Nebraska's largest social service organizations dedicated to serving, empowering and advocating for people in need, and the Christ Child Society, devoted to strengthening the lives of youth, elderly and families, signed an agreement Sept. 29 to combine their services.

Together, the two agencies have more than 185 years of experience serving the Omaha community.

"We believe many of the social ills of our society today are the result of the breakdown of the family unit," said Jerry Pape, executive director of Catholic Charities. "By combining these two agencies, we now have the opportunity to address and serve all members of the family and really make a difference in our community."

Barbara Johnson, president of the Christ Child Society's board of directors, agreed.

"This path maintains our mission and our historical commitment to children and families in lower income neighborhoods in east Omaha," she said. "It also fulfills our fiduciary responsibility to those who have donated to Christ Child Society in the past."

Under the agreement, all Christ Child Society programming, including the organization's child care services, before- and after-school programs, summer and holiday camps, aquatics programs and senior citizen services, will be folded into the Community Services division of Catholic Charities.

Johnson said the Christ Child Society will continue in name and will remain part of the national organization. The board of directors and five generational auxiliaries will now serve as a support arm to Catholic Charities, continuing to raise funds, volunteer and financially support traditional Christ Child Society programs.

Pape said the Catholic Charities' Service League will continue in their fund raising and volunteer activities. The service league and auxiliaries have always been and remain a crucial element to the continuance of both agencies' program, he said.

Donors are encouraged to continue their support of both agencies. They can designate to which specific programs their funds should be directed.

With the addition of Christ Child Society's three locations, the collaboration gives Catholic Charities strategic locations in north, south and east Omaha in which to provide services to the entire family unit.

Christ Child Society's main center on South 10th Street will continue as the Christ Child Center, and the society's north center on Emmet Street will become an integral part of Catholic Charities' expanded north Omaha services. The Creative Learning Center on South 11th Street will continue providing child care services.

"The community will recognize a better utilization of the facilities, programs and funds," Pape said. "We have numerous ways that we will be able to cross our services. If we are serving the adults, we can now get their kids into programs and vice versa. All around, it's a wonderful opportunity for a singularity of purpose: to help families in need."

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