Catholic Charities: Making a Difference

Volunteer Lauren Gore surveys clients three months after they’ve attended Money School.

by Meg Goorley, Executive Director of CCNLA

Most of the people who reach out to Catholic Charities of North Louisiana need some financial assistance with utilities and/or rent. Often I’m asked, “How do you know if you’re making a difference?” referring to the help we give the poor and vulnerable we serve. The answer to that question is multi-faceted.

Before discovering the need, everyone requesting financial assistance is required to attend the Money School, a roughly three-hour class which helps people recognize “leaks” in their finances. The classes are held at each of our offices in Shreveport, Monroe and Lake Providence. I have personally attended this class multiple times and learned something new at every single one. During the session, each attendee takes a pre-test and post-test to determine how much information is being absorbed. The average increase in financial knowledge is 40 percent.

In addition to the test, we provide a survey at the end, asking our clients specifically what they thought of the Money School. Here are some of their responses:

“It made me realize I need to get a job and SAVE.”

“I’m going to write down everything I spend money on.”

“Thank you for taking time out to help me learn to make the right decisions.”

“I need to eliminate the LEAKS!”

After the Money School, each client is offered a one-on-one counseling session with a case manager, free of charge. During this visit our case managers really dissect each person’s finances and delve into the problems people are experiencing. Overall, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana helps less than half of the people seeking monetary assistance, due to a lack of funding. There are many more people who truly need our help—and qualify—but our budget simply cannot accommodate everyone who enters our doors.

Finally, a sampling of all who attended the Money School (those helped and not helped by CCNLA) are given a phone survey after three months to determine changes in the clients’ situation. Here is the combined result from our surveys:
Gained Habits 73% (such as tracking spending, purchasing needs vs. wants, etc.)

Opened a Bank Account    12%
Gained Employment        19%
Increased Income        27%
(average increase: $1,032.58)
Current on Rent        72%
Current on all Utilities        55%

**Disclaimer: Individuals may not seek help again from CCNLA until 24 months have passed, and they must be able to prove that the tools we gave them were being used, e.g. tracking spending.

So, “How do you know if you’re making a difference?” can be answered by our clients, their statistics, and the respect we’ve earned from other non-profits in the community who use Catholic Charities as a benchmark.

Catholic Charities is supported by the Community Foundation of NW Louisiana, Beaird Family Foundation, Grayson Foundation, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, Louisiana State Bar Association, Jonesboro State Bank, First United Methodist Church of Shreveport, Walmart and the Diocese of Shreveport.

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