Catholic Charities is the safety net for people in hard times | PostIndependent.com

Catholic Charities is the safety net for people in hard times

Nonprofot Spotlight
Niki Delson
High Country RSVP
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent
ALL |

The Catholic Charities website says it has always been “advocates for the poor.” The organization started providing emergency assistance in Colorado in 1927, but its U.S. history is much older. Catholic Charities traces its roots back another 200 years to 1727, when the French Ursuline Sisters opened an orphanage in New Orleans.

Today, the goals of Catholic Charities are simple: feed, clothe and shelter the hungry, work with those less fortunate, alleviate poverty and promote self-sufficiency by providing supportive and safety-net services.

Now, almost 85 years after its Colorado beginnings, when local families are struggling and the national poverty rate stands at an alarming 14 percent, Garfield County continues to benefit from its presence.

Catholic Charities is one of Colorado’s largest private nonprofit social service providers. Its nondenominational services are available to all without regard to income or religious affiliation.

The agency opened its first Western Slope office in Vail in 1997, and has expanded to provide a continuum of services to the Western Slope in four major areas: emergency assistance, immigrant community advocacy, transitional housing and immigration services.

In Glenwood Springs, Catholic Charities is one of three nonprofit agencies, along with LIFT-UP and the Salvation Army, housed in the old St. Stephen’s Church. Together these agencies reach out to underserved and marginalized populations.

For example, the Martin family could be your neighbors, just one of many in the Roaring Fork facing hard times. Mr. Martin, fighting stage 4 cancer, was no longer able to work, and his wife dramatically reduced her work hours to care for her husband. Hospital bills and mortgage payments piled up.

Fortunately, Mr. Martin’s employer referred them to Catholic Charities, where an advocate helped them work with their lender to refinance their mortgage and avoid foreclosure. With financial strain alleviated, the Martins are now able to focus their energy on health and recovery.

Garfield County is a diverse, multi-ethnic community. More than 25 percent of the population is Latino. If you read the Post Independent’s “Immigrant Stories,” you know that the challenges to newcomers reach far beyond language. To become one with the majority culture while honoring your ethnic heritage is complex and can be both stressful and confusing.

In response to community needs and to help immigrants achieve self-sufficiency, Catholic Charities inaugurated its Immigrant Community Advocacy Program in 2002.

This program helps individuals and families meet basic human needs, navigate the business community, access services, overcome discrimination, protect immigrant rights and attain cultural integration. Though the majority of clients served are Latino, services are offered to immigrants from around the world.

“Many of the stories are very compelling,” said Marian McDonough, the regional director for Catholic Charities in Glenwood Springs. “Most people find us by word of mouth.”

Its history, its mission, and its dedication to preserving the dignity and well-being of the poor are the foundation of Catholic Charities.


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