In recent years, the Appeal participation rate in our diocese has remained around 30%. This means that of all registered Catholics in the Diocese of Youngstown, 30% typically make sacrificial gifts to the Bishop’s Appeal. For Catholic Charities, this small but mighty group is our legion of angels who help us carry out our mission: to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire Church and other people of good will to do the same.
Two-thirds of the funds raised in the Bishop’s Appeal supports the work of Catholic Charities throughout the six counties of our diocese. Catholic Charities uses this money entrusted to us to minister in Jesus’ name to those in need. We feed the hungry by offering non-perishable food items at our agency locations and providing grocery store vouchers for perishable items, such as meat, milk and bread. We shelter the homeless by providing 159 units of safe, affordable, permanent housing to families, and by providing housing counseling and resources to keep families from losing their homes. We visit the imprisoned through an active prison ministry program, comprised of dedicated clergy, religious and lay volunteers. We clothe the naked by providing clothing, including winter coats, shoes, hats and gloves to low-income children. Catholic Charities provides utility assistance, prescription assistance, supportive services to pregnant women and families with young children, and senior support services for older adults, as well as a variety of other programs to meet local needs.
Over the past several years, the number of unemployed and working poor families needing basic assistance has increased. Two-income families and professional people who once thrived are now forced to ask for help, many for the sake of their children. A mother called me a few weeks ago in dire straits. Two years after being let go from a job that paid a substantial salary, she had exhausted her savings to meet her family’s living expenses and was now at risk of losing her home. As she was telling her story, she was articulate and sharp—until she got to the part about losing the home she shared with her three children. That’s when she broke down. The possibility of foreclosure suddenly became real. The thought of her children forced from the comfort and security of the only home they had ever known became too much to bear. I referred her to the Catholic Charities social service agency in her community, confident they would know how to help. However, I couldn’t help thinking that this woman’s situation could be anyone’s, and how Catholic Charities is a lifeline for so many in these uncertain economic times.
Last year, Catholic Charities agencies throughout the diocese served 45,828 people, thanks to our angels who support the Bishop’s Appeal. Were we able to help everyone? No. Were there times that we wished we could do more? Yes. We can honestly say that we did the best we could with the resources we had available. At the very least, we provided hope for those reaching out to us in their time of need through advocacy and referrals to other community agencies and by compassionately listening to the struggles that families are facing in society today. Our goal for 2012 is to increase awareness and to increase participation. By raising the current 30% Appeal participation level, Catholic Charities will be able to further its goal of Changing Lives. . . One Family at a Time.
If you are included in the 70% who did not support the Bishop’s Appeal last year, we invite you to become an angel for Catholic Charities and help make a difference for families in our communities. You can make your gift in good faith, knowing that 91-92 cents of every dollar given to Catholic Charities is used to fund services and programs for people in need. The 8-9 cents Catholic Charities uses for administration allows qualified professionals to keep an eye on “the big picture,” ensuring that we are meeting our mission, maximizing our funding and human resources, and operating in a manner that is not only efficient, but effective.
Thank you for supporting the 2012 Bishop’s Appeal for Catholic Charities and Church!