Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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DeSales High School grad heads up Catholic Charities’ Walla Walla office
by Mitch Finley, Inland Register staff
(From the Oct. 2, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)
Tim Meliah (IR file photo)
April 1, 2008, was no April Fool’s Day for Tim Meliah. Quite the contrary: It was his first day on the job, back in his home town, as Regional Coordinator and Counselor of Catholic Charities in Walla Walla.
A 1987 graduate of Walla Walla’s DeSales Catholic High School, Meliah went on to Eastern Washington University, in Cheney, where he majored in Secondary Education. Following graduation in 1992, for two years he was a substitute teacher in Spokane and Cheney schools. In 1994, he moved to Thompson Falls, in western Montana, where for five years he taught Social Studies and English in a public high school.
In 1999, Meliah moved to Poulsbo, Wash., where he taught for two years in a public junior high school. In 2001, he began a four-year stint as Youth Development Director at the YMCA in Sammamish, Wash. “I worked with leadership and recreation programs for middle school and high school youth,” he said.
At this point, Meliah moved to Seattle where he began work on a Master’s of Social Work degree, which he completed in 2007. While in Seattle, he also did an internship and worked at Children’s Hospital as a pediatric oncology social worker. “I worked with both children and parents,” Meliah said.
The opening of the Director’s position at Catholic Charities in Walla Walla came to Meliah’s attention through his acquaintance with the former director, Richard Garcia. “For almost 20 years,” Meliah said, “each summer for one weekend I was a volunteer at a grief camp for kids here, Camp Amanda.”
Catholic Charities Walla Walla is a regional office of the diocesan Catholic Charities organization. “We have some, but not all, of the same services offered by Catholic Charities in Spokane,” said Meliah. “The services that we offer here are counseling, volunteer chore services, immigration services, and housing services for senior or disabled adults. We’re still in the process of talking to community members to determine directions we may go in the future. I’m going to be involved with one of the community centers working with youth about one hour a week, and that will help us get to know community members better. Also, it’s a way for me to not be stuck behind a desk all the time.”
Gene DiRe, Associate Director of Catholic Charities, said: “We are thrilled that Tim Meliah accepted the position of Regional Coordinator and Counselor for Catholic Charities Walla Walla. Tim’s experience as an educator, community advocate and social worker, as well as his family roots in Walla Walla, made him the obvious choice for this new position. In addition to providing direct service to individuals and families, Tim serves as the most visible presence of Catholic Charities’ services in Walla Walla by actively participating in parish and community actions to coordinate and improve social services there. That kind of active community participation is a new role for Catholic Charities in Walla Walla and will allow us to determine how we can best expand our services to meet emerging needs in the area.”
“We’re looking forward to the future,” Meliah said, “and to serving those in need in the Walla Walla area.”