Catholic Charities Completes 2011 Annual Survey
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 13:02

             Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Youngstown recently completed the 2011 Catholic Charities USA Annual Survey, which collects information on services, collaborative efforts, social action initiatives, parish relationships, personnel, volunteers, and finances from Catholic Charities organizations across the United States.

Six institutions in the Diocese of Youngstown participated in the survey. In addition to the Catholic Charities administrative office located in the diocesan chancery, the following provided information for the Catholic Charities USA report: Catholic Charities of Ashtabula County; Catholic Charities of Portage County; Catholic Charities Regional Agency (serving Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull Counties); Catholic Charities of Stark County; and Catholic Charities Housing Opportunities (CCHO).

In 2011, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Youngstown served a total of 45,828 unduplicated clients. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of those served reported receiving public assistance, including TANF, SSI, food stamps and Medicaid benefits. Eighty-one percent (81%) reported incomes below the poverty line, which was $22,350 for a family of four in 2011.

The Catholic Charities agencies serving the Diocese of Youngstown provided over $1.8 million in direct assistance to clients last year. Twenty-seven percent (27%) of Catholic Charities’ total operating budget consisted of pass-through funds to clients from grants and contracts with government entities, and other direct assistance monies from the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Catholic Charities and Church and other local sources.

Catholic Charities’ primary focus remains emergency assistance to individuals and families. Last year, 19,177 people received help with food, utilities, prescriptions, clothing and other basic needs.   An additional 3,942 people accessed Catholic Charities First Step Pregnancy and Family Support, a program that incorporates material assistance with case management services to help pregnant women and families with children ages 0-3.

“Families in our First Step program cannot think about tomorrow when their children are hungry today,” explains Mary Ellen Andersen, President and CEO of the Diocese of Youngstown Catholic Charities Corporation, the organization responsible for the oversight of social service activities across the Diocese of Youngstown.

“Once we resolve immediate issues that threaten well-being, we can then link our clients with services available in the community and screen them for public benefit eligibility using The Ohio Benefit Bank program. When clients begin to see their lives taking a positive turn, they become more interested in developing long-term goals toward financial self-sufficiency.”

Andersen notes that Catholic Charities has done much over the past several years to enhance the quality of its emergency assistance programs.

“With funding from various sources either reduced or eliminated in recent years, Catholic Charities has focused on getting at the root causes of poverty to understand why clients seek our emergency assistance month after month, year after year. Continuing to perpetuate need is not what we are about. We are about changing lives one family at a time. Our role is to be an advocate for our clients in helping them rely less on organizations like Catholic Charities and more on their own ability to provide for themselves and their families.”

Financial literacy is one of the services Catholic Charities uses in tandem with its emergency assistance program. In 2011, 696 people participated in budgeting, money management and financial education classes offered by Catholic Charities.

“Many low-income people do not realize they are capable of creating a budget. They think budgets are something for middle class people with middle class incomes,” Andersen explains.

An important component of the money management curriculum Catholic Charities uses deals with “needs” versus “wants.” Exploring such topics can be eye-opening for many clients who never saw their income and expenses written down on paper before. As their financial literacy education progresses, clients begin to realize that even those with modest incomes can create budgets and, with discipline, learn to live within their means.

The Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) is another service offered by Catholic Charities to compliment its emergency assistance efforts. OBB utilizes a computer program to help clients determine eligibility for public assistance, and then helps them to enroll in those benefit programs for which they qualify. OBB also helps low-income families prepare their income tax returns. Last year, 101 of the 109 households accessing OBB were eligible for some type of public assistance.

In addition to emergency assistance to families, Catholic Charities provided services to 2,225 older adults (ages 65 and over) in 2011. Eighty-three (83) people received guardianship services through Catholic Charities of Ashtabula County. Seventy-one (71) people participated in Catholic Charities of Stark County’s Adult Day Services program in Louisville. Catholic Charities Regional Agency’s senior support program, which helps older adults with such activities as grocery shopping, banking, medical appointments, accessing community resources, friendly visitation, and assistance with Medicare forms, served 428 people. Catholic Charities Regional Agency’s Senior Center in East Liverpool served 24,271 on-site and home-delivered meals to 538 older adults in 2011.

Catholic Charities Housing Opportunities (CCHO) provided services to 251 people last year, including those residing at Eastwood Village, an apartment complex on Youngstown’s East side sponsored by Caritas Communities, a partnership between CCHO and Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. CCHO rented four permanent homes to low-income families in the City of Youngstown, and assisted twenty-seven (27) people with down-payment assistance in 2011. The Catholic Charities agencies provided housing counseling services to 662 people. Catholic Charities of Portage County also provided safe, affordable housing to twenty-six (26) low-income people and older adults residing in apartment units owned by the agency in downtown Ravenna.

All of Catholic Charities’ programs throughout the Diocese of Youngstown are delivered by a staff of sixty-one (61) full-time and thirty-one (31) part-time employees, a workforce reduction of eight-percent (8%) from 2010. One hundred twenty-four (124) people volunteered a total of 14,148 hours to Catholic Charities last year, and an additional sixty-six (66) people served as directors on the various agency boards.

In addition to gathering information on social services, the Catholic Charities USA Annual Survey also gauges local outreach efforts in the areas of mission, Catholic identity, and parish relationships. About thirty (30) parishes in the Diocese of Youngstown maintained some type of relationship with either their local Catholic Charities agency or the diocesan department of Catholic Charities in 2011.   Catholic Charities provided parishes with education on Catholic social teaching and current social justice issues; collaborated with parish-based St. Vincent De Paul Societies and related activities; and offered leadership development training for parish-based social ministries.

A significant source of funding for the work of Catholic Charities is the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Catholic Charities and Church.

“Even though times are tough, Catholics throughout the Diocese of Youngstown continue to generously support the Appeal and affirm the programs and services offered by Catholic Charities,” states Brian R. Corbin, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Services and Health Affairs for the Diocese of Youngstown.

“In response to our donors’ confidence, we will continue to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us. As the Catholic Charities USA Annual Survey reveals, we have served over 5,000 more people in 2011, distributed more direct assistance money than the previous year, and provided the same quality programs and services with fewer staff members. I am proud to lead an organization that constantly re-evaluates itself with respect to its mission, operations, and programming,” Corbin adds.

For more information concerning the 2011 Catholic Charities USA Annual Survey, contact Rachel Hrbolich, Associate Director of Social Services for the Diocese of Youngstown, at 330-744-8451, ext. 328, or visit Catholic Charities’ newly-designed website at www.ccdoy.org.

###