Catholics in our diocese will once again come together in solidarity with neighbors in need through financial gifts to the Annual Catholic Appeal. The important work of 18 Northern California charities is supported, including those responding to the overwhelming needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic, catastrophic natural disasters, and the escalating homeless crisis in California.
Joe Smith, Advocacy Director at Loaves & Fishes in Sacramento, knows all too well what men, women and families experiencing homelessness endure. For five and a half years he was a person living on the streets. A rough childhood resulted in alcoholism and an inability to cope with life and its responsibilities. Along the way, he found that Loaves & Fishes offered not only meals and showers, but gradual steps to housing and a chance to build a new life. He applied for a maintenance job at the charity and through his own strength and talent worked his way up the organization. The job of Advocacy Director was a natural fit. "Even though I didn’t have any of the qualifications of a college degree or years of experience, I applied and started the job right when COVID-19 hit." His ability to walk among the people, and work with community and government leaders is invaluable. "Now I get to help the people that helped me when things were really really bad."
As our communities overcome the paralyzing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on Catholic Charities has been overwhelming. Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, along with partner organizations, including Rancho Cordova Community Food Locker, served thousands of people a day at the onset of the pandemic, and continue to respond to COVID-related daily struggles.
Cathy Wyatt, Executive Director at Northern Valley Catholic Social Service is once again grateful for the flexibility of Appeal funds, as they have pivoted to support survivors of the recent wildfires in the North State. "Because of the support we have received through the Appeal, we have continued to work alongside individuals and families as we heal from this disaster and at the same time continue with programs like Butte Baby Steps which provides resources to parents-at-risk."
"Refreshed and renewed" might be how Darrel L. and Deanne P. describe their lives today. Both have overcome homelessness through physical and emotional support from The Upper Room Dining Hall in Placerville. "We've had many people come through who have become housed, employed, and stable. And they want to give back" says Karen Stinson, Volunteer Coordinator at The Upper Room.
Both Darrel and Deanne treasure the acceptance, camaraderie, friendship and normalcy they received when life was unbearably difficult. “They treat you like people and that was huge for me” says Deanne, who now works in healthcare, adores her husband and baby, and still considers her volunteer work a priority. Darrel looks after his significant other, Nanette, who undergoes dialysis three times a week. He too volunteers at The Upper Room. “It was a place where I could go and I could feel comfortable. Now it’s a place where I can volunteer my services, even if it’s just one person at a time."
Every year, the Appeal helps charities and parishes to extend love and mercy to those who suffer. Most parishes will invite parishioners to make a donation late February.
About the Annual Catholic Appeal at www.scd.org/appeal