Giving Hope

Catholic Charities is grateful for local support that helps us walk along side individuals and families in crisis and give hope. Individual donors, community partners, corporate partners, Catholic parishes and schools, and volunteers all help advance our mission to help our community’s most vulnerable.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

Adoption Records Volunteer Helps Adoptees and Their Families Find Their Roots

Volunteers are integral to Catholic Charities’ mission. Whether they’re serving meals at the Christine Stamper Center for Help & Hope or handing out gifts to families in need during Emergency Santa, their passion brings smiles to the faces of the most vulnerable.

Volunteers Make Miracles Behind the Scenes

However, some volunteers make an impact in ways that aren’t always visible to the public. For example, volunteers who help to compile and produce a usable database are indispensable to programs like Joining Hearts. 

Joining Hearts helps women and couples experiencing an unexpected pregnancy make the life-affirming decision to parent or place their child for adoption. Because Catholic Charities has facilitated adoptions in Arizona since the 1930s, there are a lot of records to maintain.

The agency often gets requests from adoptees (those who were adopted), biological parents, or biological relatives seeking information or contact with family members. Fortunately, Catholic Charities has been able to enlist the help of some talented and generous volunteers who have contributed countless hours to produce a database for all these records.

A Commitment to Philanthropy

One of these stellar volunteers is Joyce Friel. During her corporate career and as the owner of a consulting firm for 12 years, Joyce quickly learned the value of having a well-organized, searchable database. 

At the time, a client of Joyce’s consulting firm was one of the Valley's largest philanthropic organizations. Through that interaction, she came face to face with the tremendous capacity for giving and the willingness of many to give generously. Ever since, Joyce has carried the spirit of philanthropy with her.

Accessible Adoption Records for Joining Hearts

So, when approached by her friend, a Catholic Charities employee, for assistance with a project for the adoption records, she eagerly jumped in. Joyce reviewed and cross-referenced adoption files with biological parent files, then compiled the database by year of birth. Her work will leave a lasting legacy and be utilized for years to come, as those records are required to be available for 99 years!  

Joyce saw this project as just one way to be “a philanthropist of time.” Having a niece herself who is an adoptee, Joyce could appreciate the value such a database could provide. “I was happy to help create a database of the adoption records, and I hope it helps both the staff and the clients of Catholic Charities who desire information about their heritage,” she said.  

If you’re interested in volunteering with Catholic Charities, check out the many opportunities to turn your passion into action.

Sally Gramke is the Administrative Assistant for the Joining Hearts Adoption Program, even though her B.S. is in Interior Design. She has been with the agency since 2011, right after moving to Arizona. Some of her most memorable days at work include helping to facilitate reunions between adoptees and their biological family members. Her husband introduced her to cycling, and her passion has convinced several cycling friends to contribute their time in assisting with the adoption database project! 

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