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Catholic Charities Sunday: Loving our neighbors in San Mateo

April 24, 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 of San Francisco will take a second collection to support the work of Catholic Charities. This is the second of three articles that feature stories of people at risk in our communities who are supported by Catholic Charities.

In the previous issue of Catholic San Francisco, we highlighted the work of Catholic Charities in San Francisco County. In this issue, we turn our attention south to their work in San Mateo County.

Since 1943, Catholic Charities has been responding to the human services needs in San Mateo County. Today, the agency serves more than 700 individuals in the areas of Aging Services, Behavioral Health Services, and Refugee and Immigrant Services. In addition to these services, Catholic Charities teaches Christian values of respect, love, compassion and support through CYO Athletics team sports programs for youth in northern coastal San Mateo County. The agency also helps severely abused boys from San Mateo County find healing and hope at Catholic Charities’ St. Vincent’s School for Boys. And it provides healthy growth opportunities for San Mateo County children who attend CYO Outdoor Environmental Education and Summer Camp. Each of these areas offers tangible ways to love our neighbors on the Peninsula.

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:

Jim is an 88-year-old retired music teacher. After he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he was not able to live alone any longer. Jim’s daughter tried placing her father in several care facilities, but eventually had to bring him home with her due to the expense. That’s when she decided to try an adult day program so she could have some respite. Within one month of arriving at Catholic Charities Adult Day Services San Mateo County, Jim became very engaged in all the activities offered. Combined with the respite provided by the center, Jim’s daughter will be able to maintain her health as well. This will not only increase her quality of life, but will also help her to take the best care of her father possible.

Francis is a 50-year-old man who has struggled with psychosis since adolescence. He lives in public housing with no family and no ties to the outside world. He speaks with his Catholic Charities’ behavioral health services therapist daily and meets with her weekly to help him negotiate even the simplest things, such as buying groceries or just getting through the day. Catholic Charities charges just $5 per week to provide psychotherapeutic services to Francis. Often people like Francis have nowhere to turn, but Catholic Charities cared for him with dignity and respect.

Maria, a hardworking child care provider in San Mateo County, came to Catholic Charities’ Refugee and Immigrant Services for emergency travel assistance. Her family still lives in her home country, and she needed help to get back home quickly because her father was dying. When her mother passed away a couple of years ago, Maria was unable to get the assistance she needed, and missed the chance to say “goodbye” and support her family through the grieving process. Catholic Charities staff were able to file documents the day that Maria came into the office, and she was able to travel in time to say “farewell” to her father and support the other members of her family. Thanks to Catholic Charities, Maria was able to safely return to the U.S., had no trouble with her employer, and was better informed about the process of getting her travel documents as well as her immigration benefits.

Agnes, Francis and Maria 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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