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Catholic Charities Sunday: Loving our neighbors in San Francisco

April 17, 2015
Jeff Bialik
Executive Director, Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities, the social services arm of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, serves more than 35,000 individuals, children and families in the Bay Area. On May 9 and 10, Catholic parishes in the three counties of the archdiocese will take a second collection to support the work of Catholic Charities. This is the first of three articles featuring stories of people at risk in our communities who are supported by Catholic Charities.

Scripture gives us a clear list of lifelong priorities. The first priority is to love God with everything we have. The second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. For more than 100 years, Catholic Charities has reached out with compassion to our most vulnerable neighbors in San Francisco in a number of relevant ways. In 1907, Catholic Charities offered care to the homeless victims of the devastating earthquake. In the 1980s, Catholic Charities was the first in the country to provide stable housing for neighbors who were dying from AIDS. Today, as our children struggle to stay safe and healthy, Catholic Charities has developed a physical education curriculum for area schools that combines physical fitness with classes on how to cook and eat for a healthier life.

Here are a few stories of people in our community who, because of your generosity, are being lifted out of poverty by Catholic Charities today:

After years of battling chronic illness while living at Catholic Charities’ Derek Silva Community, Bart’s health began to improve. He felt he was ready to stand on his own two feet and go back to work. Bart found a job and moved into his own apartment, but after encountering some difficulties at his new job, he wasn’t able to stay employed. During unemployment his rent increased, so Bart was on the brink of homelessness. A staff member at Catholic Charities’ Derek Silva Community who was still in touch with Bart helped him apply for unemployment, get his rent reduced, and keep his health care. Thanks to Catholic Charities, Bart now has enough income for stable housing which offers him the opportunity to plan for his future.

Adelia came to Catholic Charities’ Maureen & Craig Sullivan Youth Services with her family, including three children, 9, 6 and 3 years old), who were enrolled in Catholic school. She and the children’s father decided to separate which meant that Adelia and the children were relocated through the San Francisco Housing Authority. Around the same time, the father had some immigration issues which created more complications for the family. After the housing relocation, Catholic Charities’ Maureen & Craig Sullivan Youth Services kept the two older girls enrolled in school on a scholarship and helped place the youngest boy in Head Start to offer them stability and support. Now the children are better adjusted, sociable and doing well in school. With support from the program staff, both parents have been able to consistently demonstrate their desire to improve their parenting style to raise healthy, thriving children.

Marta needed a stable place to live and help in raising her 11-year-old son. For months, Marta and her son were sharing a small living space with friends. Knowing their housing situation was not sustainable, they came to Catholic Charities’ Rita de Cascia Community for help. The Catholic Charities staff assisted Marta with referrals to supportive housing organizations throughout San Francisco. Through this diligent effort, Marta and her son were able to receive shelter and stability and successfully apply and move into a beautiful, sunny two-bedroom apartment with hope for the future.

Bart, Adelia and Marta, are our neighbors. Please consider giving to this year’s Catholic Charities Sunday second collection at your parish on May 9 or 10. By putting your faith in action, you show your love for thousands of brothers and sisters in your community.

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