Catholic Charities Update

Since Catholic Charities of Shreveport opened two years ago, we have seen a tremendous need present in our diocese. As the economy struggles, the effects reach further throughout our society. Many working families managing tight budgets have had their work hours cut or have lost their jobs altogether. With little or no savings, they are at risk for having their utilities disconnected and being evicted within a matter of weeks. Many have never asked for assistance before. They often do not begin looking for help until they are desperate and have no other option. Every day we get calls from people who have had one or more of their basic utilities discontinued or who have received notice for eviction.

Making the situation even more difficult is that funding is being cut or eliminated at other agencies, and many people who used to be donors are no longer able to give. Every day we get calls from people who have been referred to us by agencies, organizations and churches that no longer have funding to help. Each month the number of requests has grown so that we have received more than 300 calls for assistance in each of the past six months.

Fortunately, Catholic Charities of Shreveport is becoming known as a beacon of hope during this difficult time and we are able to help many people in need. Unfortunately, however, we cannot help nearly as many as we would like. We help as we are able, using Emergency Assistance funds to help with rent or utilities, and then with targeted referrals for others.

We often are able to help with in-kind donations given by individuals and groups. Last Christmas, we were blessed with many needed items from the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans with their Advent Giving Tree, and a large number of canned goods collected by students at St. Joseph School. More recently, St. Pius X Church collected baby items during their 40 Day Baby Shower in conjunction with 40 Days for Life. Gifts such as these enable us to help our client families in many other ways, such as providing food for a hungry family as well as personal care items; blankets, socks, gloves and hats for those who have none; and diapers, formula, strollers and cribs so new parents can adequately care for their infants. Everyone who comes to us is given the opportunity to not only take our financial education classes, but also to receive individualized mentoring from a financial coach for a year as they progress towards financial stability and independence.
As with most Catholic Charities throughout the U.S., we depend on donations and volunteers to provide these services. Your gifts make a real difference in the lives of our clients.

by Anita Crafts,Catholic Charities of Shreveport

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