Through her work with Catholic Charities in Bloomington, Indiana, Helen Johnson has been able to put the theory from her Indiana University social work courses into practice, developing research skills while making an impact on people’s lives. “I can see the community impact through the individuals who walk into the office each day,” said Johnson, who is currently completing her second year as a master’s student in the School of Social Work.
Originally founded in 1910, Catholic Charities was created to enhance “the dignity and functioning of all persons in the community through education, social services, and advocacy.” Despite its name, Catholic Charities offers resources to all who need its services, regardless of religion, race, or income. The agency chooses its focus based on a given community’s needs. In Bloomington, where the office opened in 1983, that means counseling and therapeutic services for those who find themselves in vulnerable situations through an array of therapies that include Eye Movement Decentralization Therapy, Social Skills Groups for Adolescents, and play therapy for children.
In addition to therapy, Catholic Charities also directly supports Becky's Place, a safehouse for women and children experiencing homelessness, and generally works to provide options and resources for those in need. “Mental health care is becoming more accessible, and that’s something that Catholic Charities has helped progress in Bloomington,” Johnson said.
Even as a part-time employee, Johnson has felt that her opinions matter. “We had an employee retreat where all of the employees and students were and invited,” Johnson said. “Everyone brainstormed ideas – and then we walked out and put those ideas into action. We are very much a part of the organization.”
Johnson’s work with Catholic Charities is considered an IU Corps experience, and all interested IU students are invited to apply for volunteer opportunities with the nonprofit. “Students are so important to our operations,” Johnson said.