Catholic Charities Looks to Expand Services

Courtesy Catholic Charities USA, Alexandria, VA

Throughout our short history, Catholic Charities of Shreveport has seen dynamic growth and developed four major programs:  Emergency Assistance, Financial Education, Immigration Integration and Gabriel’s Closet. These programs were created to address some of the greatest needs throughout the 16 civil parishes that comprise the Diocese of Shreveport, and each program includes important educational components that are intended to provide our clients with the tools and information they need to begin making long-term improvements. Until recently, however, we were only able to offer Emergency Assistance to some of those 16 parishes.

When people come to us for assistance, we understand their need is usually a symptom or outgrowth of a larger issue. We want to help with their immediate need, but the educational components are really the most valuable for creating long-term improvements. Gabriel’s Closet provides low-income new parents with necessary infant items, but it also includes classes such as well baby care and parenting skills.  The Immigration Integration program includes legal assistance to help people obtain necessary legal documentation, but it also includes English as Second Language and Citizenship classes. Emergency Assistance for rent or utilities is paired with Financial Education, and also includes our new Healthy Eating on a Budget Initiative which incorporates economical nutrition and cooking classes.

As we grow, we hope to make these programs available throughout the diocese. With the opening of the Lake Providence office, we can now offer Emergency Assistance and Financial Education to the farthest eastern areas of the diocese.

We are in the process of researching our next satellite office. We are assessing the greatest needs in potential areas, which programs volunteers can support in those locations, and what other resources would be available to sustain an office. The final decision will be based on a balance of needs, logistics and local support in terms of both volunteers and funding.

Because we want to offer our programs and services for many years to come, our growth must be done in a manageable and sustainable way. It is a time for prayerful discernment, so we may be wise stewards in this time of growth. However, it is also an exciting time for the agency as we explore options for helping even more people. Catholic Charities of Shreveport wants input from people in all areas of the diocese.  If you would like to be a part of this growth, we would appreciate hearing your ideas for your area. Call us at 318-865-0200.

by Anita Crafts, Catholic Charities of Shreveport

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