Catholic Charities, Galveston Houston Diocese
By Joan Whetzel
From time to time, we all look for charitable organizations to which we can donate our time or money. Charitable donations are one way to really helping others. One Charitable Organization worth considering is the Catholic Charities, which has a chapter in every Diocese across the US. They offer many services to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. You do not have to subscribe to the Catholic doctrine to donate time or money or to receive their services. In addition, money can be donated to Catholic Charities as a whole or to any one of the charities that fall under the Catholic Charities umbrella.
What Is Catholic Charities?
Catholic Charities is the parent organization that encompasses a number of groups offering a wide array of services. The organization helps anyone in need of their services. Catholic Charities serves all people, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or religious beliefs. Their clients don’t need to be Catholic in order to receive services.
Charities Under the Catholic Charities Umbrella
The services provided by Catholic Charities may vary from Diocese to Diocese, depending on the needs of the community that the Diocese serves, as well as the amount of money and volunteers available. Check with the Diocese in your area to find out exactly what services they provide. Here are some of the charities and services provided:
Adoption and Foster Care This charity offers assistance to anyone finding themselves pregnant as an alternative to abortion as well as to those looking to adopt babies. With abortions so readily available, the number of babies put up for adoption has declined, making this charitable organization an option for those parents who want babies but can't have them on their own. What's more the adoptions are available to anyone. I had a Baptist friend many years ago who could not have children. When deciding on the adoption route, she and her husband went through Catholic Charities and found it an easy enough route to adopt a son and later a daughter. This charity is not making a statement against abortion, nor are they asking anyone to be pro-life when considering charitable donations. They ask only that potential donors consider the adoption and foster care services for those who are looking to adopt babies.
Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents. This group provides pre- and postnatal care as well as assessing the following needs for those families with a pregnant teen wishing to keep the baby: medical, nutrition, family, emotional, jobs, education, parenting skills, psychological needs, legal, and financial. The offer ongoing services to fill the needs of these teens and their families including referrals to the appropriate health and social services as needed.
Counseling. Counseling services are offered for married couples, premarital counseling for dating couples, parents with troubled teens, or individuals dealing with any personal issues or crises. Workshops on strengthening family relationships are also available.
Food and Basic Needs Assistance. The purpose of this charity is to help the poor, sick, and elderly with financial, food, and educational assistance. Temporary housing services are provided for the homeless and victims of domestic violence. They offer support to anyone living within the diocese with disaster relief such as after hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes for example.
Disaster Recovery Assistance. Post-disaster assistance other than food and emergency shelter fall under this charity's services. They offer help relocation to permanent housing, finding jobs, and help with marital conflicts that frequently arise following such crises. In addition, they help families determine if they qualify for supplemental funding from the government and help them obtain that funding.
Immigration Legal Service. This charity assists anyone who would not be able to find legal representation. Some legal services are offered at a minimum fee while others are free.
Senior Services. This service focuses on the needs of the elderly. Following in-home assessments, the organization helps seniors with shopping for groceries, transportation, assistance with medical appointments, and helping them "age in place" in safety with operating funds from the United Way. They provide home visits, companionship referrals, applications and referrals for community resources, and emergency assistance as needed.
Housing. There are several charities operating under the housing group. They provide temporary housing for out-of-town patients and their families, transitional housing / shelters for single women and women with children who are at risk for being homeless. This form of housing is not meant to be permanent, only to help the people involved get back on their feet again.
AIDS Ministry. This organization provides compassionate, non-judgmental services to anyone with HIV/AIDS as well as their families and loved ones. Services include, case management, spiritual, support, HIV education and limited financial assistance.
Parish Social Ministries. These are offered on a parish by parish basis depending on the funds available in each parish. Services may include education, leadership training, serving the poor in that parish's district, social services, legal advocacy, community organizing (i.e. protest rallies), global solidarity for justice and peace, to name a few.
Refugee Resettlement. Refugees are the people who fled their homeland due to political strife or extreme poverty. They come to the US with nothing. The Refugee Resettlement group assists them in finding jobs, housing, clothing, language classes, and whatever else they initially need to get back on their feet in a new country.
How to Support Catholic Charities
There are several ways to help Catholic Charities. Volunteering your time and services (e.g. medical care, tax services, legal services, transportation services) for any one of the many charity groups is a great way to support Catholic Charities. Other ways include monetary donations in the form of cash, check, money order, or credit card payments; stewardship pledging of large sums of money that are paid out in installments over a year; matching gifts where your employer matches whatever donations its employees contribute to Catholic Charities; vehicle donations; donations of household appliances, furniture and other usable items; and new clothing.
Most of the information provided in this article came from the Catholic Charities for the Houston Galveston Diocese. All major cities have a Catholic Diocese with a Catholic Charities attached to it. In the Houston-Galveston Diocese, as in many other Diocese, most of the services are provided in both English and Spanish, with some provided in Vietnamese as well. Check with your local Diocese for availability of language assistance.
For more information, go to the Catholic Charities website at: http://www.catholiccharities.org/