As I was preparing to write my Leaven column, I immediately began to reflect on the significant milestones over the nearly 70-year history of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas serving the archdiocese.
The agency, now with over 200 employees and 7,000 annual volunteers, has provided help, hope and hospitality to tens of thousands of individuals and families.
Our ability to complete our work is possible through the tireless efforts of our volunteers and abundant generosity of our financial supporters. You help us raise millions of dollars to sustain our programs, and you bring hundreds of people closer to the mission of Catholic Charities.
I recently finished the book, A Personal Portrait of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was a woman of remarkable faith. Her personal motto was: love in action. Sound familiar?
It should — because this is the mission of Catholic Charities. Many other organizations operate social service programs— the difference between Catholic Charities and them is that they do it for something and we do it for someone. That someone is Jesus Christ and his love for each human person.
Inspired by putting love into action, I share a few of our fiscal year 2023 impact statements:
• Catholic Charities served over 60,000 of the most vulnerable children, women and men through our 30-plus programs!
• More than $8.6 million worth of food was distributed through our eight food pantries to those unable to afford the rising costs of groceries.
• Over $1.3 million in direct financial assistance kept families facing utility disconnection or eviction safely housed.
• 852 refugees, including 243 who fled Afghanistan during the humanitarian crisis and 129 Ukrainians fleeing war, were welcomed and received 13,000 hours of services, including employment and education supports and language and citizenship prep courses.
• 165 new students increased job skills and advanced their education through our St. Rita program, bringing the total of program participants to over 500 students since 2017 with a 95% completion/credential rate.
• Of the 60,000 served through Catholic Charities, 13,000 individuals sought assistance from our Family Support Centers or resource bus for the very first time this year! This stat tells us that while our efforts have never been in vain, there is much work still left to do through Catholic Charities. It can be daunting to think that we may never surpass the need in our community.
But, this year, more than perhaps any other year, we have an opportunity to leverage the 50th Snow Ball anniversary milestone to help Catholic Charities continue to reach more families in need. Please consider this a personal invitation to join us on Jan. 20, 2024, to recognize and celebrate love in action over the last 50 years, and to dream about the next 50.