Catholic Charities: New Staff Member Brings Wealth of Experience and Love to Local Program

Often we follow a winding path to reach the place where we feel we belong and can make the best contribution.  For Gilda Rada (pronounced Jill dah), Catholic Charities newest staff member, that was most certainly true.

As a child growing up in Caracas, Venezuela in one of the poorest ghettos, Gilda learned early about poverty and its effects on individuals and families.  Her determined parents wanted to make a better life for their children, so they learned everything they could, worked as hard as possible and set goals for themselves and their children to overcome the poverty they lived every day.  And they did!  They also set an example for their little children of the value of hard work and that education was a key to a better life.  But, they shared even more important life lessons.

When Gilda was only 11, she experienced something that would change her life forever.  A local priest invited the entire family to a three day retreat, a “Mariapolis,” a movement of the Catholic Church with a goal of working for unity with God and with our fellow human beings. Gilda became a disciple that day, with a desire to do her part to, in her words, “change the world,” a lofty goal for a girl of 11.

As Gilda grew in her faith and desire to follow Christ, she understood that this unity would begin within, but, says Gilda, “The most important lesson I learned that day was to love Jesus in everyone.”  So she practiced that, beginning with her teachers, her family members, friends and school mates. She invited class members home to help them with their studies.  This was another way she believed she could embrace the message she learned at the Mariapolis and another avenue to love Jesus in everyone. When I asked her why she wanted to work for Catholic Charities, her eyes lit up as she told me this story and it was easy to see that her deep faith and her desire to be of service brought her to our door.

Gilda and her husband Manuel and their two children, arrived in the U.S. from their home country of Venezuela in 2012 when they made a decision to seek a better life for themselves and their children. With her background as an international affairs officer for 20 years and a journalist for five, she brings many skills that will add to those we enjoy from other staff members.  As our Benefits Case Manager for the SNAP program (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), Gilda will be working with families who face food insecurity to enroll them in the food stamp program.  She is excited and ready to embrace the challenge of working for Catholic Charities and it is our good fortune to welcome her.

by Theresa Mormino, Catholic Charities of Shreveport

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