Catholic Charities cannot serve 70,000 people in 13 counties on our own. That’s why our mission is to “partner with parishes and the greater community” to create lasting change in our region.
The Parish Social Ministry Program, which manages our Emergency Assistance services, exemplifies how Catholic Charities collaborates with partners extend our reach. Parish Social Ministry has a twin role. On the one hand, the program helps parishes, schools and other Catholic organizations to put into practice the Gospel teachings of Christ.
The program’s other mandate is to coordinate assistance to those in need. One way the program does this is through providing Emergency Assistance services. Members of the community facing a financial challenge receive one-time cash payments for essential services, like home utilities, transportation and equipment to start a new job. Clients are eligible once every 12 months.
Catholic Charities Coordinates Assistance throughout Our Region
The key word in the Emergency Assistance mission is “coordinate.” Our Catholic Charities staff cannot be present to every person throughout our large service area. The Parish Social Ministry program is based in Spokane, where we serve thousands of people each year. But our service area covers the eastern third of the state and serves many thousands of people.
To serve our entire region, Emergency Assistance develops and nurtures relationships with community, nonprofit and church partners. The below examples of some of these partners show how we offer a brick-and-mortar presence that reaches our rural neighbors in need:
Our nonprofit partners include organizations like Rural Resources of Pend Oreille County, the Community Action Council in Okanogan County and St. Vincent De Paul Services in Asotin County.
We collaborate with community organizations like Dayton’s Project Timothy, the Colville Reservation’s community health workers and the Othello Food Bank.
Our strong ecumenical relationships with churches mean our services reach people in Omak through St. Joseph Parish, through the Pomeroy Christian Church, and St. Mary’s Parish in Chewelah.
Equipping Partners to Serve Clients
Our relationship with the People’s Pantry of Ferry County shows how strong partners help us provide the best service to clients. Located in Republic, WA, the community food bank distributes 125,000 pounds of food each year to 387 families, or 839 people, in Ferry County.
Last summer, Catholic Charities provided a $900 Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Rice Bowl grant to the People’s Pantry. The CRS Rice Bowl program collects Lenten alms from Catholics in our Diocese and distributes some of it to local charitable causes. The People’s Pantry used the grant to install six new shelving units in their food bank.
Recently, they wrote back to us, explaining how that grant made life easier for those 387 families. The grant made their services safer, more efficient and more effective.
Because food no longer has to be stored on the floor, “we have had no more tripping injuries,” they reported. Keeping all the food on the shelves has also improved operations and decreased waste. According to the People’s Pantry letter, “this has helped greatly with being able to properly rotate the food without boxes being missed.”
But most importantly, the shelving has allowed our partner to do better work. “Our clients have seen a big difference in how things are done here,” they wrote, “and are appreciative of the changes.” The improved organization system has increased the pounds of food families have been able to take per visit.
Not only does this mean families have better nutrition, but it means they don’t have to make the long drive to the food bank as often. “Some families are able to stretch their pickup dates to every other week and some to once a month.”
Our partnership with the People’s Pantry meant that we served more people more efficiently than we could have on our own. If Catholic Charities had spent the same $900 locally, we could not have made the same impact on rural families and improved their quality of life.