Charities prove value of their work
By Michele Jurich, Staff writer - The Catholic Voice Online Edition
June 11, 2012 - Representatives from Catholic Charities from throughout California met with California Gov. Jerry Brown last month "to impress upon him the important work being done by Catholic Charities throughout the state," said Solomon Belette, CEO of Catholic Charities of the East Bay.
Belette, along with other members of the executive committee of Catholic Charities of California, met for about an hour with the governor May 16 to let him know of the work being done by the dozen agencies, Belette said.
With the state's looming budget cuts to social services, Catholic Charities' work becomes even more important.
According to Belette, 18 percent of the people in California who are poor have access to Catholic Charities. With 5 million poor people in the state, that's about 1 million people who are seeking services.
Catholic Charities leaders took the opportunity to share with the governor the effect their work has on the poor, and to let him know that while they understand the governor has a budget dilemma, "it's important to keep the focus on the poor and the most vulnerable," Belette said.
Employment and workforce development are among the needs Catholic Charities of the East Bay can help address. "The best solution to all this is to get people employed," Belette said.
But with cuts to state programs such as Cal Works, Catholic Charities may be asked to help people facing a cutback in cash grants, child care and months of eligibility.
"Safety net issues are not going away anytime soon," Belette said. "Safety net issues will continue to be exacerbated until the economy fully swings back to normal."
Recipients of in-home support services in Alameda County, which assist elderly and disabled people to continue to live in their homes, are also facing cutbacks that could have ripple effects. Not only are the recipients looking at a loss in hours of service, but those care providers, too, are facing a loss in income.
In an attempt to help shore up that safety net, Catholic Charities of the East Bay has launched the Safety Net and Prosperity initiative. The organization is seeking to fund the initiative with $300,000 earmarked for direct assistance. "We need more direct assistance dollars," Belette said. "People are still struggling."
"We're very grateful to the Catholic community for its continued support of Catholic Charities," he said. "We wouldn't have sustained ourselves without faith-filled, faith-driven commitment."
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