Catholic Charities releases survey


Nearly 48,000 people benefited from services offered through the diocese.

staff report

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Youngstown completed the 2008 Catholic Charities USA annual survey, which collects information on services, collaborative efforts, social action initiatives, parish relationships, personnel, volunteers and finances from Catholic Charities organizations in the United States.

Seven institutions in the diocese participated in the survey. In addition to the Catholic Charities administrative office in the diocesan chancery, Catholic Charities of Ashtabula County; Catholic Charities of Portage County; Catholic Charities Regional Agency (serving Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties); Catholic Charities of Stark County; Catholic Charities Housing Opportunities (CCHO); and Caritas Communities, a joint partnership between CCHO and Humility of Mary Housing Inc., contributed to the report.

In 2008, Catholic Charities in the diocese served a total of 43,974 people. St. Vincent de Paul Societies served an additional 5,000 people.

Brian R. Corbin, executive director of Catholic Charities and Health Affairs, serves as the diocesan liaison with the local St. Vincent de Paul Societies, providing administrative and technical support.

“We have seen an increase in persons coming to Catholic Charities and St. Vincent de Paul pantries and dining halls over the past year due to the change in the economy,” Corbin said.

About 85 percent of those served by Catholic Charities received public assistance, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps and Medicaid benefits. Catholic Charities reported that 86 percent of its clients had incomes below the poverty line, $21,200 for a family of four in 2008.

The top priority for Catholic Charities remains emergency assistance. Last year, 3,837 people received assistance with food and food vouchers; 1,006 received prescription assistance; 8,208 received help with utility payments; and 718 received clothing assistance. Another 662 received other types of emergency assistance, including advocacy and information and referral services. About $925,000 was provided in direct cash assistance to clients throughout the diocese.

Catholic Charities’ First Step pregnancy and family support program continues to grow, assisting 4,861 individuals. This figure represents an increase of 26 percent higher than the number served in 2007. First Step is a program that links low-income pregnant women and families with children from birth to 3 years old with material assistance, case management and other community resources available to address their needs. Many clients who had previously been served through the emergency assistance program are now in the First Step program. They receive material goods to meet immediate needs and specialized assistance to address other issues that contribute to their lack of financial and/or emotional stability.

In response to client needs and the current economic situation, Catholic Charities agencies have become sites for Ohio Benefit Bank, a service that uses a computer program to help low-income individuals and families access the public benefit programs for which they are eligible. Last year, 135 people accessed the Ohio Benefit Bank at Catholic Charities sites. Another 541 people received financial literacy services through Catholic Charities’ money management programs and budget counseling.

Housing services — including case management, foreclosure counseling, home mortgage assistance, rental assistance, housing counseling, down-payment assistance, and housing search and information — experienced a 66 percent increase from 2007 to 2008. Catholic Charities Housing Opportunities also maintained five single-family homes in Youngstown, which it rents to low-income families, and 152 apartment units through its involvement with Caritas Communities on Youngstown’s East Side.

A total of 2,310 older adults received senior support services, senior prescription assistance, adult day services and respite care in Stark County, guardianship and representative payee services in Ashtabula County and hot meals at Catholic Charities’ senior multi-purpose center in East Liverpool.

Mary Ellen Andersen, president and chief executive officer of the Diocese of Youngstown Catholic Charities Corp., the organization that provides oversight for affiliate agencies of Catholic Charities, said that a re-focusing on core programming has become necessary in the current economic climate.

Andersen said Catholic Charities leadership is working to incorporate a case management approach into its programming. This effort is necessary to affect change in the lives of those clients with the desire and potential to extricate themselves from poverty.

About 50 diocesan parishes maintained an active relationship with Catholic Charities in 2008. They assisted with the implementation of the following priorities: coordinating Catholic Relief Services’ efforts and promoting global solidarity, coordinating Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s efforts and promoting community organizing and economic development and promoting formation on the Catholic social mission.

As a system, Catholic Charities employed 108 people in 2008, a reduction of about 10 percent from 2007. Fifty-six percent of Catholic Charities’ employees work full-time and 90 percent are women.

Additionally, 262 volunteers provided nearly 5,000 hours of service to Catholic Charities agencies. Another 65 people served on the various Catholic Charities boards of directors and advisory boards.

With less money, the church continues to work to provide help throughout the diocese. A recent billboard campaign in support of the 2009 Bishop’s Appeal for Catholic Charities and Church provides an opportunity for those interested in the work of Catholic Charities to visit www.givehelp.org.

For more information on the survey, call Rachel Hrbolich, associate director of Social Services for the Diocese of Youngstown, at (330) 744-8451, ext. 328.

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