Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Youngstown recently completed the 2014 Catholic Charities USA annual survey, which gathers information on services, collaborative efforts, social-action initiatives, parish relationships, personnel, finances and implementation of mission-related activities from Catholic Charities organizations across the United States.
Five institutions in the Diocese of Youngstown participated in the survey: Catholic Charities administrative office located in the diocesan chancery; Catholic Charities Housing Opportunities; Catholic Charities of Ashtabula County; Catholic Charities Serving Portage and Stark Counties; and Catholic Charities Regional Agency serving Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Catholic Charities’ programs were delivered by a staff of 62 full-time and 23 part-time employees, serving 10 locations. One hundred forty-four volunteers contributed more than 10,000 hours last year. An additional 40 people served on agency boards of directors.
Catholic Charities served 46,299 people in 2014. Seventy-nine percent of emergency-assistance clients reported incomes below the federal poverty line, which was $23,850 for a family of four last year; 91 percent qualified for some type of public assistance, including TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and Medicaid benefits.
The Catholic Charities agencies in the diocese provided more than $940,000 in direct assistance to clients in 2014, plus an additional $1.8 million in pass-through funds to clients from grants and contracts with government entities, as well as other direct-assistance monies from both diocesan and local sources.
Eighty-five percent of Catholic Charities’ total budget of $7.6 million is devoted to programs that meet basic human needs, strengthen families, build communities and empower low-income people; 11 percent is for administration; and 4 percent for fundraising.
The majority of those served receive emergency assistance. In 2014, Catholic Charities provided help with food, utilities, prescriptions, clothing, rent and other basic needs to 24,718 unduplicated clients, a figure that remains consistent with 2013. An additional 7,714 clients accessed First Step Pregnancy and Family Support Programs, which provide specific material assistance and case-management services to low-income pregnant women and families with children from infants to 3 years old.
Over the past several years, Catholic Charities has seen a steady increase in the number of people receiving food assistance at its agencies. In 2014, Catholic Charities provided 38 percent more food assistance than the previous year. Food is provided through on-site pantries at the Catholic Charities agencies and vouchers that can be redeemed at local grocery stores.
“The increase in the number of people who are hungry in our diocese is troubling,” said Mary Ellen Andersen, president and chief executive officer of the Diocese of Youngstown Catholic Charities Corp., the organization responsible for the oversight of social services across the diocese.
In 2014, Catholic Charities provided financial literacy services to 917 people in both individual and group settings. A total of 47 group sessions on financial literacy took place last year.
Catholic Charities agencies provided housing counseling services to 623 people in 2014. Catholic Charities Housing Opportunities served 181 households last year, providing permanent housing through apartment units and rental homes in Youngstown and down payment assistance for low-income, first-time home buyers.
Catholic Charities also helped 1,042 people, including 411 children and 15 older adults, avoid homelessness. The Regional Agency’s Homeless Outreach program touched the lives of 657 people in the Mahoning Valley who live on the streets, “couch surf” among friends and family members with no real homes of their own and face eviction or foreclosure. Comprehensive housing services continue to be a priority, as the number of homeless families find their way to Catholic Charities agencies.
Though it is family-centered in its approach to service delivery, Catholic Charities also offers services to help older adults obtain basic needs and critical services. In 2014, a total of 2,070 adults ages 65 and older accessed Catholic Charities’ services. Catholic Charities Legal Immigration Services, accredited by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals since 2006, provides family-based immigration assistance to those who wish to obtain legal status in the United States, either for themselves or for their relatives. In 2014, Legal Immigration Services helped 201 people with citizenship applications, family-visa petitions, removal proceedings and legal representation. Staff from Legal Immigration Services also reached 125 clients through community outreach and presentations.