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Whole Kids Outreach becomes an affiliated ministry of SSND

By Sister Anne Francioni, SSND, Executive Director, Whole Kids Outreach

School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province (SSNDCP) and Whole Kids Outreach (WKO)—a harmony of missions! For 23 years, Whole Kids has been in relationship with SSND and now it is official! Last year WKO became an Affiliated Ministry of the Central Pacific province, and it fills me with hope. (Affiliation describes a relationship between the congregation and the ministry where staff and administration demonstrate fidelity to the SSND charism and educational vision and choose commitment to that charism and vision for the future.)

Whole Kids Outreach volunteer and child

Like SSND, WKO’s mission is directed toward women and children, particularly those who live in poverty. By providing health and parenting education through home visits to pregnant and parenting families and programs for children and teens at the center in Ellington, Missouri, we have seen firsthand how transformative the gift of education can be.

A few minutes ago, Tanya, one of the home visiting nurses, left my office after a long conversation about a family she had just visited. Since it was her first family with a baby with Down’s Syndrome and complicating medical problems, she wanted some guidance. As I listened, it was obvious that Tanya had a lot more work to do with the family than to simply teach clinical skills since the family was also struggling with a myriad of other social problems. The family had experienced the trauma of child trafficking, sexual abuse, parent imprisonment and teen pregnancy, all of which needed to be addressed.

Tanya’s question was troubling and profound, “Where to start?” The answer, as always, “From where they are and from their strengths.” The truth is that our society does not seem to value such services enough to make sure they are adequately funded. State social service caseloads are often beyond any semblance of quality management. The cracks, that especially poor children are at risk of falling into, are often more like chasms. However, with caring support, it is at least possible that this family can evolve and learn new ways to relate and navigate life. And if not, WKO will use all its influence and skill to help ensure each child is safe. It will take a long time for Tanya to build a trusting relationship and it will require a great deal of networking and teaching, but there is room for hope.

This is just one of hundreds of stories like it and it is why our world needs the SSND charism and integrated, relational approaches like Whole Kids Outreach to express it. There would be no Whole Kids Outreach without SSND. It is that simple. I often receive kudos for building Whole Kids into the thriving organization it is today. I certainly did not do that alone because where one SSND goes, we all go. I have had the loving support of many powerful, beautiful sisters and it is that model that Tanya can draw on as she steps out in faith to help the child and his family. The power of SSND and the visions of Mothers Theresa and Caroline permeate the values and philosophy of the WKO programs and faith community. It is the how of what we do, and it has been my greatest joy to witness the dreams and hopes of our congregation expressed in such tangible and recognizable ways.


Sisters, with associates and lay colleagues, work to fulfill the SSND mission by supporting and directing services through ministries, organizations and institutions. Learn more about these ministries.


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