A Determined Search

Catholic Charities,
Our fiscal year begins May 1 and ends April 30. By the time you get this Virtual Coffee, we will have ended another year, working with many in our Catholic Parishes and communities to serve the poor and marginalized. We’ve had many successes and some challenges.
The renovation of Claire’s House is nearing completion and we are awaiting the licensing necessary to open our doors to children ages 12 to 17 so they can begin to heal from the trauma of trafficking. We also received a large grant from The San Francisco Foundation for Claire’s House.
Contra Costa County awarded us a grant to help immigrant families and individuals with rapid response support and legal services. We continue to resettle refugees primarily from Afghanistan who worked with the U.S. Armed Forces as translators or interpreters. Our Mental Health program continues to work in inner-city schools helping young people impacted by trauma and violence. Sadly, ongoing exposure to violence has dire consequences for children and youth, including perpetuating a vicious cycle of violence.
We also faced real difficulties. Affordable housing is scarce and the cost of living is a growing challenge for many of our clients. There is fear and confusion in the immigrant community. More people are asking for housing assistance. Our challenge is to remember that we cannot be all things to all people; instead, we must focus on what we can do well.
Our staff continues to inspire me. They are among the best, the brightest, and the most compassionate people I know. They are the reason for our success and why I am confident we can handle any challenge. They are the ones who carry out Pope Francis’s call to be in the streets, helping people with kindness, love, and acts of mercy.

Last week we had our 34th Annual Golf Tournament. Over 100 people turned out to play golf and attend a dinner, which featured awards, a rousing live auction, and a compelling story from Christopher Martinez, our Chief Program Officer.
Christopher, a veteran, shared a story about Kevin, a 65-year old veteran who had served our country faithfully in Vietnam. Kevin was homeless. He had received a federal Section 8 housing voucher, which provides on-going rental assistance, yet it had taken him over a year to find a property owner who would accept his voucher. Fortunately, with resolve and doggedness, Kevin eventually found a place to live. He came to us because he needed help with move-in costs and furnishings. Our housing counselor was able to give Kevin the help he needed, which included an additional $1,225 for a bed to sleep in and other items that make a place home.
We are proud to have been able to help Kevin, who now has a roof over his head a place to call home. It’s the least we could do for someone who has served his country.
Until next month,
Chuck Fernandez
CEO Catholic Charities of the East Bay