April 17, 2015

Love fuels Kearns-Hout’s work with Catholic Charities

2015 Women of Distinction - Nonprofit, Human Services

Enita Kearns-Hout has been likened to the Energizer Bunny, and, she admits with a laugh, “I bop ‘til I drop.”

The Woman of Distinction award for Kearns-Hout, Weld County regional director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, stems from her efforts in the nonprofit world. She led the campaign to secure funding for the Guadalupe Community Center and Shelter, which provided close to 15,000 nights of shelter last year. Additionally, thousands of flood victims were assisted in Weld County in 2013 through her efforts to provide both emergency and long-term assistance.  She also championed the effort to fund A Women’s Place, a shelter for battered women.

“Life has been kind to me, and I work in an industry where I see that life isn’t equally kind to everybody,” she said. “Some people describe my role as being the face of Catholic Charities in Weld County. That means I help people understand the charitable arm of the church. We serve anybody of any faith or no faith, and our mission is to provide love and compassion and the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to those who are poor and underserved.”

Kearns-Hout takes it a step further. “It’s also how I can engage the community, the foundations and donors. We have made a choice that Catholic Charities is going to be a good steward of funds given to us and use those funds to do what we say we’re going to do, which is to help those in need. I want to make sure we provide the best practices as a nongovernment social-service agency.”

It’s about helping others help themselves. “We provide encouragement and hope so people can dig within themselves and get the strength to try again,” she said. “Many who come to us have lost hope. One of our responsibilities is to help people understand there is hope. With love, encouragement and compassion, we help people stabilize their lives. We want to help them find their wings and wish them well when we see them fly away to again become contributing members of the community.”

Kearns-Hout loves her work, she said. “I’ve had two great professions. I was first an adoption social worker connecting families with children, many of whom were special-needs children, and seeing their lives become stable. I have the greatest respect for foster and adoptive parents.”

She worked in that field from 1969 to 1998, then started with Catholic Charities in 1999.

“My second career is running a charitable social-service agency,” she said. “How lucky to have two careers I love so much it has never seemed like work. When I left the Larimer County Department of Human Services, a coworker put a calendar on my desk and turned it to a page that said, ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ That’s always stayed with me.”

Kearns-Hout said it’s true. “I love my job. I’ve seen people being born, children being reborn.”

And, yes, she does put in extra time. “If you love what you’re doing and you’re dedicated, you put in a lot of extra time and effort because it will make a difference.”

Her faith plays a role. “I believe that God is helping on this path,” she said. “He led me here and he will guide me through hard times and good times. My profession, my beautiful family, my friends – I have a wonderful life. How lucky can any one person be?”

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