At Catholic Charities, we are familiar with the wave of change that can come from a single act of kindness. Our work spans wider than the single point of impact, inspiring hope not only to those receiving assistance, but also to the family and friends of the individual. In this way, one single act can stimulate a ripple effect of optimism. What if the ripple effect reached further yet? What if those providing the assistance created their own sphere of hope and inspiration?
Catholic Charities of Chemung & Schuyler Counties — a regional office of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester — recently participated in a “Point-In-Time” study (PIT): a coordinated effort within a specific region to count the number of homeless persons on a specific day, during a particular point in time. This year (2016), Catholic Charities staff conducted surveys at night (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) in an attempt to identify the number of unsheltered people in places not meant for human habitation, i.e. under bridges, abandoned buildings, sheds, etc. While the final tallies are not available for the PIT count, 18 individuals were identified as sleeping outside on a chilly January night. In addition, on the same night, Catholic Charities’ Second Place East Homeless Shelter had its highest numbers in 9 years — a total of 34 individuals, including 10 children, who accessed our shelter.
For many of the Catholic Charities’ staff, conducting the PIT survey at night was truly an eye opening experience. Mattresses and make shift beds were identified in the City of Elmira, highlighting the profound nature of our homelessness issue. Many conducting the survey took home images and stories about their experience. Jamie, a Catholic Charities’ Case Manager, told her daughter, Amiah, about the survey and showed her a picture of a bed she had found. Jamie was surprised by Amiah’s response, “Mom, you’re my hero, because you help people that don’t have a home.” That night Amiah drew her mother a picture, stating just that “You’re a Hero!”
What a testament to the work that our case managers do every day. They spend their days inspiring hope in our clients and their evenings encouraging the same hope and compassion in their families. Catholic Charities is an essential safety net to our community, and our staff are vital to our success. Because of them, our sphere of hope and inspiration expands deep into our neighborhoods, helping those in need and encouraging those more fortunate to help others.