Beginning The Year With Thanks

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As the year 2023 draws to a close and 2024 dawns, I want to thank all of you for supporting OCCIF. This past year I’ve had the honor and pleasure of meeting many of you in different diocesan conferences and meetings. It’s great to see so many old friends, and introduce OCCIF to new audiences. 

The money that you have donated or invested in OCCIF has made a huge difference in parishes across the country. We appreciate your faith in OCCIF and look forward to helping many others in the coming year. New beginnings are essential to a life of faith, and we begin the new year with great expectations for continued growth in our most valuable ministry. 

We are grateful for our two new board members: Dennis Garlick and Catherine Mandell. Dennis brings years of construction industry experience to OCCIF, while Catherine currently works in the banking industry as a commercial loan services officer. Their individual skills will be invaluable as OCCIF continues its work to help parishes with their commercial loan needs. 

Our Giving Tuesday donation campaign is over, and we thank you all for the donations that you provided. Yet we can do so much more for others. The fact is we still receive more requests for capital improvement loans than we can fulfill. With this year drawing to a close, many people are reviewing their tax situations. Please remember that OCCIF is a 501(c)3 charity and consider OCCIF in your end-of-year charitable donations. A donation to OCCIF helps grow the Orthodox Church in the United States.

Father John Dresko
Orthodox Capital Improvement Fund

Welcome to OCCIF: Dennis Garlick

Dennis Garlick was previously Senior Vice President with W.E. O’Neil Construction, a nationally ranked general contractor with locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas. Dennis brings decades of experience in complex contracting projects to OCCIF. According to Dennis, it was seeing Father John Dresko’s presentation at the last All American Council that made him want to get involved with OCCIF. “Whether it’s through the churches or it’s through other organizations, we’re all asked to make donations,” said Dennis. “Yet [OCCIF] is more of a reverse loan, if you will. You’re allowing your gift to help others, but yet at the end of the day, you still get your investment back and then some. This is drastically different from what we’re bombarded with day in and day out.” Dennis also appreciates the way that OCCIF can help the Orthodox Church get past the many hurdles in the capital improvement loan process. “I’ve been in my parish my whole life and we’ve struggled financially for a lot of years,” notes Dennis.” I’ve always heard how hard it’s for churches to get loans, so being able to [use OCCIF] to avoid that process is incredible.”

Welcome to OCCIF: Catherine Mandell

Catherine Mandell currently works in the banking industry as a commercial loan services officer. Her strengths lie in due diligence and the loan process, ensuring compliance with institutional policies and procedure. After giving a speech during Great Lent for the clergy wives group, she came to the attention of OCCIF board member Katherine Vitko, who immediately gave her a call. Catherine’s vast experience in commercial loans services is a huge benefit for OCCIF, yet it’s her experience on a national level with the Orthodox Church that makes her a great fit for OCCIF’s board. A life-long Orthodox Christian, Catherine grew up in the Church, attending various parishes until ultimately her father, Fr. Thomas Hopko, was assigned to teach full time at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. “My father took St. Vladimir’s from a single classroom (as a student) to a full school campus (as Dean),” noted Catherine. Currently, Catherine and her family attend St. Michael’s Church in Irvona, PA and Nativity of the Virgin Mary Church in Madera, Pennsylvania. Catherine and her family are the core of the church choir, and are very involved in their church life and church family. Catherine is also the author of “When You Fast: Recipes for Lenten Seasons”, published by SVS Press. “I’m very active in my parish, but it’s on a local scale,” said Catherine. “Here [at OCCIF] I can use my experience with the Orthodox Church and my ability to speak and write to make a difference nationally.”

Remember, OCCIF is a charitable donation

OCCIF is a 501(c)3 charity. Consider donating appreciated stock, make a direct donation of your RMD from an IRA, or you can make a simple cash contribution. We would appreciate whatever you can donate!
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