Among the many programs and ministries it supports, the 2018 Annual Catholic Appeal, “Joy in Christ, Our Gift to Share,” assists Catholic Charities, the largest non-government provider of social services in Fairfield County. Rooted in the Catholic philosophy of faith in action, Catholic Charities of Fairfield County (CCFC) has fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, strengthened families, and empowered the vulnerable by providing a broad spectrum of social services to the extended Fairfield County community.
Last year, CCFC served over 10,000 people throughout twenty-three towns in the county. That’s 10,000 people who may never have received the help they needed were it not for Catholic Charities.
As you most likely know, the government has been reducing funding for almost all nonprofits—Catholic Charities being no exception. When you give to the Annual Catholic Appeal, you are supporting all of Catholic Charities’ programs.
That means your donation is helping house the homeless, you are helping educate preschoolers from lower income families, you are helping immigrants find the way to documentation and you are helping feed the hungry.
For the hungry, CCFC’s food programs provide over 1.3 million meals annually through its soup kitchens, food pantries, Morning Glory breakfast program and Senior Nutrition Program. The Thomas Merton Center in Bridgeport and New Covenant Center in Stamford provide not only meals but food pantries as well. Last year, these two pantries welcomed over 2,600 individuals to shop for nutritious groceries for their families.
These centers are not only about food. Thomas Merton Center (TMC) offers support groups to help individuals address issues like abusive relationships or addiction problems, which might be impeding their road to self-sufficiency. TMC also provides case management to assist guests with paying rent, budgeting their finances, and obtaining state and federal benefits. New Covenant Center offers a shower, a laundry room and barber services. NCC also collaborates with other local programs to train individuals in the skills needed to find better jobs and financial independence.
“We have many former and current clients who also volunteer here as their way of saying ‘thank you’ to New Covenant Center,” said John Gutman, the executive director. “One of those is Charo, who came to us from Ecuador many years ago to eat a daily meal. Once Charo learned to become a hair stylist, she returned to New Covenant Center—but not for food. She came back to offer free haircuts to our guests, which she does about 15 times a month.”
Catholic Charities’ Homeless Outreach Team is always on the move, leading Northern Fairfield County’s initiatives for those experiencing homelessness. It is the only program searching the woods, under bridges and in the community for the homeless in the greater Danbury area. The team links these individuals to mental health and substance abuse services, health care access and housing opportunities.
“When we are able to link someone to housing and watch them walk into their apartment for the first time, it is a very emotional experience because we know that we have assisted a person with obtaining stability and enabled him or her to launch into a new phase of their life,” said Regional Director Michele Conderino.
What if you came to this country with the hopes of making a better life for your family, but you did not know how to navigate our immigration system? Catholic Charities’ Immigration Services is a welcoming place to turn to for those in need of affordable counseling and legal assistance with issues involving family reunification, documentation, U.S Citizenship and protection of status.
“We help newcomers and the foreign-born population, regardless of race, religion, sex, creed or economic status,” explained Immigration Counselor Alex Arevalo. “Our mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency and human potential of these newcomers to our county.” Last year alone, CCFC’s Immigration Services conducted almost 400 consultations and assisted 22 individuals with obtaining U.S. citizenship.
Imagine if you were a parent who couldn’t afford the cost of a preschool education for your children, but wanted them to have a solid foundation before they entered kindergarten. What would you do?
You could turn to Catholic Charities’ Room to Grow Preschools (RTG) to meet your needs. Parents pay tuition on a rate based on their income. RTG is not only a preschool for children ages 3-5, but also a daycare for parents who work. Mothers can help support their families, confident that their children are in a nurturing environment.
“Supporting Catholic Charities through the Annual Catholic Appeal is crucial to providing services to those in need and for the most vulnerable,” said Bill McLean, chief development officer of the Diocese of Bridgeport. “In addition, many companies will match an appeal gift for Catholic Charities, so the impact can be doubled or tripled and more people can be helped.”
Catholic Charities puts faith into action. Supporting Catholic Charities through the Annual Catholic Appeal—what better way to put your own faith into action.
(To donate to the Annual Catholic Appeal, contact Pam Rittman: firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.416.1470. You may make your gift online at: www.2018ACAbridgeport.com.)
By Ellen McGinness