For further information on any of the news items listed here, please contact Alice Black, PhD, OPA, Director of Communications & Mission Advancement, at 614-416-1020.


Sr. Janie Keenoy, OP, St. Catharine, KY

Sr. janie Keenoy, OP

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new class of Super Heroes in our society – front-line health care workers. As chaplain of an elder care facility in rural Kentucky, Sr. Janie Keenoy saw these heroes in action every day, and chose to direct the funds from her Sisters on the Frontlines grant from Catholic Extension and The LeadershipCollaborative, supported by the GHR Foundation, to help those front line heroes cope with the effects of the pandemic on their lives.

When the third wave of COVID-19 invaded rural communities in late November 2020, into January 2021, the virus moved swiftly through Sansbury Care Center. Residents and staff alike fell ill, and several of our Sisters died. For Sansbury Care Center caregivers, this was a special sort of pain, since many had known these women for years and cared for them like family.

Throughout these long, cold, and lonely weeks of illness, isolation, and grief, Sansbury health care staff rose above their own fears of getting the virus to courageously and lovingly care for residents. They administered medication, treatments, and dispensed constant comfort.  Members of the staff encouraged one another and worked extra hours to cover for sick staff members.

“While I was fearful for the health of our Sisters,” Sr, Janie says, “I was also concerned about our staff. What happens when they must miss weeks of work to recover? Who helps when they need help?”

Sr. Janie was able to help two frontline caregivers who contracted COVID-19 and whose families suffered financial hardship. She helped pay utility bills and provided grocery gift cards to help these families while the staff members recovered from the virus.

“Contracting COVID-19 was stressful enough,” Sr. Janey continued. “I am happy and humbled that this grant from Catholic Extension and The Leadership Collaborative allowed me to provide concrete assistance to those who care so lovingly for us.”




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Sr. Annette Winter, OP, Great Bend, KS

Sr. Annette Winter, OP

Sr. Annette Winter has volunteered at Catholic Charities for years. In fact, the charity nominated Sr. Annette for the “Volunteer of the Year” award from RSVP/VIA of Central Kansas, with which she was honored in 2017.

“I enjoy volunteering at Catholic Charities because it is gratifying to help people in need,” Sr. Annette says. “It is good to see them leaving with smiles on their faces.”

With that in mind, it is no surprise that Sr. Annette channeled a portion of her Sisters on the Frontlines grants from Catholic Extension and GHR foundation into that organization.

Sr. Annette Winter, OP, packs personal essentials for the needy in Kansas.

Because people have not been able to come to the Catholic Charities offices to pick up needed items, Sr. Annette has been taking requests over the phone, packing bags of food or personal items, and in some cases, delivering those bags to those in need.

“Taking bags to the homes of the people we serve has been an eye-opener for me, says Sr. Annette. “I now see areas of our city that I never knew were there. It makes me grateful for how I was raised and grateful for all I have now.”

Sr. Annette feels that the grant came in God’s time, as she got a call from a homeless woman on the same day that she received the funds. Sr. Anette was able to pay for two weeks in a hotel for this woman so that she could be safe while sourcing grants for permanent housing.

You can bring a smile to the faces of those in need with your gift. Click here.

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Sr. Mai-Dung Nguyen, OP, Wichita, KS

Sr. Mai-dung Nguyen, OP

While many Americans have received government assistance to help them manage the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, many others have not because of their immigration status. In the spirit of the Gospel’s command to “show hospitality to strangers,” Sr. Mai-dung Nguyen, an immigrant from Vietnam who has gained her citizenship, reached out to assist another newcomer when she received a  Sisters on the Front Lines grant from Catholic Extension in collaboration with The Leadership Collaborative and the generosity of the GHR Foundation.

This single mother is raising three teenagers who are working hard to break the cycle of generational poverty and fulfill their potential in their new home country. Looking to offer a hand up, Sr. Mai-dung found a way to help each person in the family help themselves.

The mother has had cancer is the past and may be suffering a reoccurrence. She is afraid to see a doctor, however, because she can’t afford the medical bills. Sr. Mai-dung used part of the Sisters on the Front Lines grant to pay the family’s past utility bills, easing some of the stress on the family’s finances.

This high school senior in Kansas has a nest egg to help pay for her further education.

Recognizing the importance of education in helping these young people in this family succeed, she started a savings program for the eldest daughter, who wants to attend chiropractor school.

The middle child works every day after school to help support the family, but every day was a risk because he did not have a drivers’ license. This grant helped put him on the road legally.

The youngest child will be old enough to drive soon and wants to be able to help support the family as well. This grant will pay for her learner’s permit and her license.

It’s imperative that the mother of this family resolve her health issues, so the remaining grant funds will pay for medical care at the local federal medical clinic.

“I was happy to see the relief on the faces of this family,” said Sr. Mai-dung. “I am blessed to help them move into a future that is brighter, healthier, more secure, and hopeful.”

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Sr. Kathy Broussard, OP, New Orleans, LA

Sr. Kathy Broussard, OP

When a person goes to jail, it’s not just that person who suffers. Often, a family is left without a parent, or without a wage-earner. Bills pile up, and the family is thrown into chaos.

As a death penalty mitigation specialist for the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, Sr. Kathy Broussard knows that better than almost anyone. When she received a Sisters on the Front Line grant from The Leadership Collaborative and Catholic Extension, through the generosity of the GHR Foundation, she knew who to help. (Please note that we cannot use real names due to privacy issues.)

Jane is a middle-aged woman in Shreveport, Louisiana. She receives $700 dollars a month in disability; her son used to help her pay her bills, but he is now facing the death penalty. Jane took a side job, but when her employer died, she lost that extra income. She has since developed pneumonia and is on oxygen. While Sr. Kathy and her team work to help Jane’s son avoid the death penalty, they can see she is suffering as well.

When Sr. Kathy called her to tell her that, thanks to the #SistersontheFrontLine grant, she would be able to help, Jane started to cry. She had given up hope that she would be able to pay her electricity bill and had turned it over to God. Sr. Kathy felt blessed to be a part of the solution, saying “I am happy that I could be God’s hand in answering her prayers.”

Susan’s husband is facing the death penalty. Susan and her husband have been together for 19 years; their three children are all in school. She was injured in a car accident and lost her job during the pandemic. Her husband was laid off due to the pandemic before he went to jail.

Susan has been trying to get a job while rehabbing from her injury, but there are few jobs available and no one wants to hire a person who is injured.

For a woman with three children who needs to get back to work, transportation is necessary. Sr. Kathy was able to pay her back car insurance bill and her water bill.

Sr. Kathy explains, “Our justice system claims that people are innocent until proven guilty, but most people seem to believe that you wouldn’t have been arrested if you hadn’t done something wrong. They consider our clients sub-human and believe that they and their families are not worthy of assistance, even though many have mental health issues, and all are indigent.  

“It’s hard enough to see your loved one facing the death penalty – these families should not have to worry about their next meal or their safety.

“I am grateful to The Leadership Collaborative and Catholic Extension for helping me bring hope and love to these women and children.”

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Sr. Joanne Caniglia, OP, Akron, OH

Sr. Joanne Caniglia, OP

Many of our Sisters worked to feed the bodies of those who were affected by the COVID-19 shutdown. Sr. Joanne Caniglia, OP, a mathematics educator at Kent State University, decided to use her Sisters on the Front Line grant to feed the minds of children in Ohio.

Thanks to a grant from Catholic Extension in cooperation with the Leadership Coalition through the generosity of GHR Foundation, Sr. Joanne was able to help three local organizations by creating special hands-on STEM kits to keep students engaged in learning while school was conducted remotely.

Proyecto Raices of Akron, OH, supports more than 40 children with online activities to preserve their cultural heritage and ensure their academic success. The Sisters on the Front Line grant allowed STEM kits to be mailed to the students, saving valuable time and expense for program directors.

Sr. Joanne demonstrates the STEM activities via video call on Saturdays while the students follow with their at-home kits. Her students from Kent State University created the projects, giving them valuable teaching experience.

King Kennedy Community Center in Ravenna, OH, received Break Bags to be distributed with family food packages. Each bag included five STEM activities for students to conduct at home. The activities were all space-related, particularly relevant as the United States landed a rover on MARS. The children were able to become engaged in this important price of scientific history.

Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) in Canton, OH, received materials to create the activities for a Virtual Family Math Night and a storage cart to transport the materials to program events. SPARK serves more than 400 families throughout Ohio. These activities are rich in math and literacy content from which the entire family can learn.

Creating finger paint art helps children learn symmetry.

Sr. Joanne directs the virtual family math nights and will be demonstrating them all over the state.

The success of the programs funded by the Sisters on the Front line grant also attracted other funders. NASA Glen Research Center donated to provide a virtual and in-person space camp for children who may never be able to travel to NASA.

“I have tried to find a way to support children, parents, and teachers as well as utilizing the gifts and talents of those around me,” Sr. Joanne says. “For example, sisters at the Akron Motherhouse assembled break bags for children.  Future teachers at Kent State created activities. This funding was the catalyst for so many benefits for so many people.”

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