Catholic Charities: Meeting Needs with Respect, Dignity and Kindness
Catholic Charities was established as a child welfare agency 100 years ago, in 1920. Its first local office opened in Racine in 1953, as a part of its expansion of services in southeast Wisconsin.
1. What makes Catholic Charities stand out among other agencies?
The staff who work at Catholic Charities are truly dedicated to serving individuals and families with respect, dignity and—most importantly—compassion. We serve those who are most in need: people affected by poverty, including Spanish speakers, who experience barriers to community resources and support.
2. Can you tell me a story about a time when you realized your agency’s impact?
Brigida is a single mother in Racine whose finances were impacted by the pandemic. She was not alone. During the COVID-19 outbreak, many of our previous clients—including Brigida—reached out for help with sudden unemployment. Their lost paychecks means that many were unable to buy food and basic necessities.
Unfortunately, many of our clients have few resources and don’t qualify for other supports. To make matters worse, most government and nonprofit agencies shut down as COVID-19 hit our community. Case managers at Catholic Charities, however, remained very active, guiding our clients to the help they needed.
By remaining open during the pandemic, we were able to respond to the immediate needs of Brigida and her family. Going above and beyond our usual social services, Catholic Charities organized a food drive to meet the urgent needs of clients like Brigida. With the support of community donations, we distributed food boxes, basic hygiene kits and pre-paid VISA cards to clients who didn’t qualify for other assistance. We even delivered these care packages to those with no transportation.
Brigida shared that Catholic Charities was “life-saving” at a very rough time when she and her children were in dire need. She couldn’t be more grateful for all Catholic Charities has done for her and her family over the years, and our support during this very difficult time was no exception.
“Since I began working at Catholic Charities sixteen years ago, I have witnessed the genuine kindness and caring our staff have for the people we serve and for each other. Day in and day out, our staff work with individuals and families to provide quality care, but I believe that our clients respond even more to how they are treated—with respect, dignity and kindness.” —Susan Howland, Director of Outreach and Case Management
3. What do you think most people would be surprised to learn about Catholic Charities?
That we serve all people of all faiths, regardless of their access to insurance, often at little to no cost. We are also one of the only agencies that offer culturally competent, bilingual counseling services, licensed therapy, and comprehensive case management.
4. Is there anything else you think the community should know about your work?
We walk with people in their time of need, addressing mental illness, homelessness, hunger, unemployment and family relationships. Our compassionate staff go a long way to help families begin their healing processes and find hope for the future.
We continually seek innovative ways to serve people affected by poverty, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. During this crisis, we are working to address isolation and access to food through our food drive and by partnering with entities like Sacred Heart Parish.
Jackie Rekowski is Catholic Charities’ director of mission advancement. You can support Catholic Charities’ work by supporting their food drive, created in partnership with Sacred Heart Parish in Racine.