In our Winter Blessings newsletter, we share stories about the many people we serve through ministries that feed the hungry, strengthen families, protect the vulnerable and welcome the stranger.
Last year, we traveled to the underserved to feed the hungry through our Food for All program. We provided 328,000 meals to people living in the Eastern counties of the Archdiocese. This was a 134% increase from 2016 for Adams, Brown, Clermont, Clinton and Highland Counties where grocery stores and food pantries are scarce. North of Cincinnati in Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties, our mobile pantries served 29% more people than they did the prior year.
We were able to strengthen families though our Early Childhood Mental Health program that served 1,234 children and our Parenting Education program that served 145 parents through enhanced parenting skills. These programs address the many stresses that break down families and the growing need for children’s mental health. We also increased in-school counseling in 2017. The story in this issue about a three-year old coping with emotional outbursts describes how families are strengthened.
Protecting the vulnerable occurs through many of Catholic Charities programs. The Caregivers Assistant Network is described in the story about Rose and Chris. In 2017, we served 262 Caregivers – an increase of 145%. Foster Grandparents provided over 87,000 hours of service to children as described in the story about Lillian who makes the world a better place by caring for children.
Welcoming the stranger fulfills the biblical mandate so heartily endorsed by Pope Francis. We resettled 254 refugees (a 35% decline from 2016) in a tumultuous year. Many refugee programs are closing due to uncertainty and fewer refugees being resettled in the US, we are committed and blessed to continue this program. There are still a record number of refugees in the world, and we will continue to keep this ministry in the forefront of our effort. We hosted the Columbus Crossing Borders Art Exhibit and documentary to illustrate the refugee story as described in this issue.
We also provided emergency assistance through the Su Casa Hispanic Center to 1,298 individuals. There are two stories in this issue of Blessings. The first is about individuals who arrived from Puerto Rico after the hurricane and are getting back on their feet through Su Casa. The second story is about a family in Cincinnati with family in Puerto Rico who are working through the disaster day by day.
The Immigration Legal Services program served 417 individuals in 2017 with a variety of services to effectively navigate through complex immigration laws. A story about Isabel, an immigrant who arrived as a child, who is working to maintain her DACA immigration status is in this issue.
If you consider these stories of God’s love and then consider the hundreds of times that these stories are repeated, you will begin to fathom the importance of the work performed by Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio.
As we travel our Lenten journey, please keep Catholic Charities in your prayers as you consider God’s mercy that is spread through the world by individuals taking action to serve. We are blessed and thank God for you and you’re sharing in our mission.