Catholic Charities provides help for variety of needs | PostIndependent.com
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Catholic Charities provides help for variety of needs

Donna Gray

Since opening its West Slope office in Glenwood Springs in 2000, Catholic Charities has brought hope to the homeless, the disadvantaged and the immigrant.In concert with other local charities such as LIFT-UP and the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities provides emergency assistance, from rent to gas money, to the needy.”Basically we provide anything that makes sense,” said Catholic Charities West Slope director Tom Zieman. “We’ll help a person fix their car or pay their car insurance. We give bus passes and gas vouchers.”Catholic Charities helped 380 families, including single people, with emergency aid last year, Zieman said.It also provides what Zieman called transitional housing. Through partial funding from the federal Housing and Urban Development agency and the Colorado Commission for the Homeless, Catholic Charities will subsidize an apartment for a single person or a family while helping family members get a job. As people get on their feet financially, they take over rental payments.”This is one of those ‘teach-a-person-to-fish’ things,” he said.Zieman estimated there are 12 to 13 families living in subsidized apartments every year.Catholic Charities also provides legal advocacy in some visa and citizenship applications to immigrants. Zieman said the charity does not help with work visas since that would involve dealing with employers “who should hire private attorneys to do their work,” he said. Catholic Charities shies away from work visas because of its experience with employers who take advantage of illegal workers.Zieman estimated 267 families received that service last year.With the demise of Asistencia Para Latinos in Glenwood Springs a few years ago, there was a gap in referral services for newly arrived Latinos in the valley. Catholic Charities stepped up in one area, providing mediation for immigrants primarily over financial disputes with landlords or employers.”They sit down with a third party and we try to work toward a solution,” Zieman said. “We have no vested interest, we just want to solve the problem.”Last year, 456 families received assistance in mediation from Catholic Charities, Zieman said. Flexibility and creative thinking are the keys to helping the needy, he added.”It’s a pretty creative job. You have to be a free thinker, and think outside the box,” he said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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