CHARLESTON— People seeking help from Catholic Charities often have one specific immediate need such as food or clothing, but many could also benefit from follow-up care that helps improve their daily lives.
That idea, called a continuum of care, will eventually become part of Catholic Charities’ work in South Carolina as the result of an asset development meeting held April 2-3 in Charleston.
Workers from Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston hosted members of Catholic Charities USA from Wisconsin, Texas, Arizona and other states.
It was an important opportunity for diocesan workers to meet and connect with members of the national organization because there hasn’t been much interaction between the two branches in recent years, said Caroline Weisberg, director of Catholic Charities for the diocese.
“The biggest thing is that our folks felt they got rid of this feeling of isolation,” Weisberg said. “They saw lots of other people doing what we’re doing. They were able to show us some of their best practices, and at the same time appreciated some of the ideas they got from us.”
Workers described some of the state’s most successful Catholic Charities programs, including Senior Companions in the Piedmont Deanery and Clean of Heart, which provides laundry services for homeless people in the Midlands.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone attended and discussed the importance of the diocese becoming reacquainted with Catholic Charities USA and working with the agency to reach out to more people in need.
Attendees also learned about government-funded programs available to help the hungry.
Many people experiencing a food crisis don’t know how to sign up for the programs or even if they exist, and the information is especially important in South Carolina where
hunger is an ongoing problem in many communities. Weisberg said the agency’s programs feed at least 900 people a month in the Lowcountry deanery alone.
Members of Catholic Charities Corpus Christi and Catholic Community Services in Tucson discussed housing projects and the continuum of care concept, which focuses on helping people become self-sufficient over time.
In a continuum of care model, Catholic Charities clients are evaluated to see what can be done to help them with more than just their basic needs.
“We have programs that help with food, or help to pay the electric bill, but we never look at the big picture as well as we should,” Weisberg said.
“Continuum of care would help us to not only meet a person’s immediate need but find other ways to help so they can get out of this cycle of crisis,” she continued. “When we’re feeding people, for instance, we ought to be looking at other ways to help them. Maybe we need to help them write resumes, maybe we need to start a job bank. With a continuum of care, we can really make a difference in their lives.”
For more information about programs or volunteer opportunities at Catholic Charities throughout Diocese of Charleston, visit www.catholic-doc.org, or call (843) 402-9115, ext. 15.