CCNLA Celebrates Staff Diversity

CCNLA staff: Carl Piehl, Suhad Salamah and Allison Kulbeth.

 

by Meg Goorley, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana

Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) embraces the word “Catholic,” meaning universal, in every sense of the word by employing people of all faiths.

Carl Piehl, who is Jewish, has been with the organization for six years. Piehl is well known in the community for developing the Money School, a financial education course that aims to empower the poor to take control of their future. Piehl came to know the good work being done by CCNLA through the immigration program because he taught English as a Second Language. He loved the interaction between the staff and clients.

“The greatest part of my job is inspiring others to realize the strengths within themselves,” said Piehl. “Though not all of us are Catholic, we embody Catholic social teaching every day through our work.”

Catholic social teaching calls for the respect for human life, importance of family and community, dignity and responsibility for the worker and care for the poor, vulnerable and all of God’s creations.

Two other non-Catholic staff members came to CCNLA by way of a temporary employment agency. Suhad Salamah, who is Muslim, has been with CCNLA since September 2016. She is the State Benefits Manager and oversees Gabriel’s Closet – the parenting program that helps low-income parents with baby essentials.

“I am grateful that I have a chance to serve others,” said Salamah. “The clients are just so appreciative.”

Occasionally, she gets mistaken for a nun because of her hijab, and Salamah finds it humorous when someone calls her “Sister Sue.”

Intake Coordinator Allison Kulbeth, another temporary work referral, was surprised when she first came to the office on East 71st Street. Kulbeth, who is Baptist, didn’t know much about Catholicism before working at CCNLA, but she knew that clients did not have to be Catholic in order to receive help.

“What I like about Catholic Charities is that the people who work here aren’t judgmental. Everyone who walks through our doors is welcomed” said Kulbeth. “Now that I’m the one everyone sees when they first walk in, I try to make everyone feel special.”

Executive Director Meg Goorley is extremely proud of her diverse staff. She said, “The similarities of all of our faiths are greater than the differences between them.”

She added, “We are comfortable with our own faiths, yet learn that each person brings depth and value to the world. My colleagues are a living illustration of the vision of Catholic Charities: Together we invest in people to alleviate poverty, distress and injustice.”  •

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