The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding mitigation efforts challenged people in many ways. The loss of life has been the most tragic outcome. Other results include businesses shutting down, churches closing their worship spaces, and families sheltering in their homes for months. Many people lost their jobs or were placed on furlough. It’s been a tough year for everyone, but the challenges were doubled for people who were already marginalized, with little or no income, and with few resources to purchase food and other necessities.
The Catholic Charities ministry responded immediately to help those who were suffering the most. Catholic Charities USA helped to coordinate the delivery of food boxes from the USDA’s Farmers to Families program to Catholic Charities agencies across the U.S. CCUSA also provided financial aid, personal protective equipment, and other pandemic-related resources to agencies. CCUSA, in collaboration with the Felician Sisters, established a major initiative: the CCUSA Francis Fund for Eviction Prevention, which was available to Catholic Charities agencies to assist people in danger of losing their homes.
Local Catholic Charities agencies adapted their services at the community level. Many member agencies, for example, converted indoor food pantries into outdoor, drive-through versions. Services like mental health counseling, financial literacy classes, and English as a Second Language courses were held online in order to continue to serve clients.
This issue features examples of Catholic Charities agencies that offered workforce development and job training programs throughout the pandemic, providing clients the resources necessary to find meaningful employment. In many cases, the agencies also provided wraparound services (food, health, and shelter) to clients while they completed their jobs programs.
The goal of helping people to self-sufficiency did not change because of COVID-19, but the programs and services had to adapt to the evolving situation. As you will see in this issue, the Catholic Charities ministry met the challenge with grace and hard work.