Local News Archive
Print Issue: August 3, 1972
Profile: Catholic Social Services, Inc.
By Michael Motes
In addition to his clerical collar, the Rev. Jacob A. Bollmer wears many hats in his capacity as executive director of Catholic Services Inc., a branch of the Archdiocese of Atlanta which deals either directly or indirectly with problems ranging from working with emotionally disturbed children to finding new homes for Spanish-speaking refugees.
Fr. Bollmer describes Social Services as an umbrella agency for ALL counseling and social services in the archdiocese. There are three major service units which fall under the administration of Social Services: Exceptional Children Services with Miss Lorraine Zak as program director: the Resettlement Services headed by Fr. Raphael L. McDonald, O.F.M., and the Office of Urban Affairs under the direction of Sr. Janet Valente. Also included as a major service of Catholic Social Services is the work being done at the Village of St. Joseph.
A native of Reading, Ohio, Fr. Bollmer moved to Atlanta with his family as a child and received his elementary education at St. Thomas More School in Decatur. Following his graduation from St. Pius X High School, he attended St. Bernards College in Alabama for two years and later graduated from St. Bernards Seminary in Rochester, N.Y. he was ordained in Atlanta in 1968 and first assigned as assistant pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King. He completed post graduate studies at Atlanta University, where he received his masters degree in social work.
Sr. John Frances Alwes serves as assistant director of Social Services and is the only woman in the country to hold that position. With a varied background in the field of education, both as an elementary school teacher and principal, Sr. John Frances became administrators of St. Josephs Boys Home in Washington, Ga., in 1965. Two years later she established the St. Joseph Child Care Program in Atlanta and became administrator of the Village of St. Joseph. In 1969 she developed a treatment program for the children there which is still in effect.
Both Fr. Bollmer, who resides at the Village, and Sr. John Frances speak with pride of the village of St. Joseph, which has received the highest rating in the state for programs geared to emotionally disturbed children.
In counseling emotionally disturbed adolescents, Fr. Bollmer works with boys from ages 13 to 18 and Sister counsels girls in the 13 to 16 age group. Among their clients might be young people disturbed by parental conflicts, poor school work or drug addiction. The office also works with runaways.
In addition to the youth who are dealt with through Social Services, hundreds of other persons are aided each year. People seeking shelter for the night or food might appeal to the office for help. Couples with marital problems telephone for information on how to find counseling. And the list could go on ad infinitum.
Those seeking immediate, temporary aid are often directed to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Marital problems might be discussed with either Mary Julia Hogan or Lorraine Parker of Catholic Family Services, Inc.
We are a close-knit agency, says Fr. Bollmer. Working together we try to give witness for the Church through Christian deeds and charity. We feel this is a mission of the Church as much as any parish work. Our mission in the churches ranges on the programmatic level through Social Services to mental health and family care programs, from welfare assistance to institutional childcare services. We are a multi-faceted social work agency because our workers are trained to move in many different fields.
Apart from direct contact with individuals, Social Services works with the National Campaign for Human Development. Among the grants the agency helped to obtain last year were $10,000 for the North Fulton Child Development Association to establish a pre-school training program for Roswell, $10,000 to the Credit Union of Toccoa, $10,000 for the Dahlonega Pre-School Association and $15,000 for Georgia Mountain Arts and Crafts.
A current program in which Sr. John Frances is involved is Project AWARE. She hopes to establish a service for people of the West End section of Atlanta to assist in obtaining Medicare funds where eligible, making application to nursing homes and convalescent centers and utilize existing resources to prevent loneliness for the aged.