Client advocate at each regional office funded by collection

The poor do not need our compassion or our pity; they need our help.” — Mother Teresa

Te sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of Catholic social teaching. By our baptism, we are called to the responsibility for building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. In order to answer that call, our church teaches us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.

This is the goal of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Catholic Church’s domestic, anti-poverty program. On Nov. 17-18 special collections will be taken up around the Diocese of Charleston for this worthy effort.

These important collections become the tools of self-sufficiency for people who are motivated to break out of the cycle of poverty. Funds for the CCHD benefit people on a systemic level and do not act as bandages covering only surface level problems. By supporting organizations that teach people, enable civic change, and develop programs that increase awareness, we heal the roots of the problem.

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops established the CCHD in 1970, and it has become the largest private funder of anti-poverty programs that are initiated and led by poor people in the United States. Its mission is to raise money to support organized groups of poor and low-income people in developing economic strength and political power, to educate Catholics about the church’s social teaching and poverty in the United States and to promote a greater sense of solidarity with the poor.

CCHD is unique because the poor and low-income people it serves control the projects it supports. The Catholic Campaign’s goal is community empowerment through helping individuals and families to help themselves.

The most recent grants were distributed as follows:

— 60 percent for housing and community development

— 20 percent for jobs and economic development

— 20 percent for family issues (including homelessness, youth issues, child care and support, anti-violence efforts, welfare, the environment, education, health care, and disability rights).

Local donations to the CCHD are applied to national programs, which include organizations in South Carolina, and 25 percent of the total stays in the diocese.

Generous contributions to the effort have helped fund one client advocate at each of the diocese’s four Catholic Charities regional offices.

Daryl Kangarloo works at Catholic Charities in the Pee Dee Deanery. Since she started work last January, she has helped increase the number of people assisted at that office and provide a more substantial service than just paying a portion of a light bill or rent.

Kangarloo walks people through community assistance programs and helps steer them toward community resources.

She helps clients see how to provide for all the needs that families may have including educational concerns for children, registering people to vote, obtaining health care, relocating families to safer homes, coping with mental health concerns, processing social security claims and government benefits, serving as a liaison between the client and an angry landlord or employer, or working through the barrier of a dysfunctional family.

Having a client advocate has allowed the Pee Dee Catholic Charities office to make the monumental leap from quick emergency financial assistance to providing long-term case management that focuses on self-sufficiency.

In the Midlands, Stewart Keller can devote more time to clients, most of whom arrive at the Catholic Charities office with a myriad of problems, not just one for which they can write a check. He spends the time needed

to delve thoroughly into each situation and provides the necessary

follow-up. The additional staff member has also made it possible

to expand Midlands Catholic Charities from Columbia to Saluda County. St. William Parish in Ward hosts a new outreach center where Keller provides assistance every Thursday, something that would not have been possible without the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Similarly, Mary Carr’s presence as a client advocate has helped the Piedmont Catholic Charities office establish a larger network of churches and agencies that collaborate on this ministry to people in need. When people come in with telephone or utility bills that seem too high, Carr calls the companies and tries to obtain a more affordable contract for the clients. She helps with other programs that help provide food, furniture and blankets to people in winter.

Like his peers, John Garcia of the Coastal Catholic Charities office helps coordinate services with other social agencies, helping clients identify and access community resources. Garcia provides job counseling that helps people get back on their feet and start being self-sufficient. His work helps people from the inside out as they return to their community with a greater sense of dignity.

To meet the educational component of its ministry the Office of Social Ministry is promoting the Catholic Campaign for Human Devlopment’s art contest for students in grades first-12th. By encouraging youths to design a project around the theme “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in America,” they learn about the church’s social teaching and develop a consciousness about helping others.

Please give generously to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and help break the cycle of poverty, together.

Dorothy Grillo is the director of the diocesan Office of Social Ministry.