Dear Friends and Family of Catholic Charities:
The centennial year for Catholic Charities was not what we expected.
In place of a celebration came the most painful and prolonged reminder of why our programs and services are so crucial to communities across San Diego and Imperial counties.
There were no galas. No gatherings. Not even a moment spared to reflect or to take a break. 100 years later,
almost to the date, the coronavirus pandemic forced us to revisit the very roots and reasons why we began. Let me explain.
At the height of the Spanish flu in 1919, also known as the influenza pandemic, Catholic Charities was created in San Diego to care for the survivors impacted, from the elderly, to the homeless, to the orphans. In 2020, we found ourselves not so much reflecting 100 years later, but rather, reliving 100 years earlier. And, once again, the trauma and suffering were met with courage, sacrifice, selflessness, dedication, and collaboration.
A year ago, in March 2020, I made one of the most difficult decisions in my life; and it was to commission Catholic Charities to remain fully open and operational across all offices and facilities. There was fear. There was danger. But above all, our calling was clear. Hope began to overshadow the fear and distress – however, there was strong belief that through all the uncertainty, we, as an organization would bond together and make a difference.
In the months that followed, our team and volunteers worked side by side, in-person, round the clock, not only to uphold our existing services; but, accelerated and expanded our programs, new services were created and implemented that would help our neighbors around us who were, and are continuously struggling.
Our fellow neighbors were hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic; and, as people were losing their
livelihoods and incomes, we foresaw its impact. But we were ready for the second wave of this disease, which was hunger. Catholic Charities’ Emergency Food Distribution Network Plus (EFDN+) delivered over
1,424,517 pounds of food, or 1,187,098 meals, with 1,227 volunteers contributing 22,448 hours to put
food into the hands of the hungry.
“It was like someone came out of the woodwork and said, ‘Hello, we’re here to help,’” said Billie, a homebound woman who had lost 40 pounds in 18 months from undernutrition. “I didn’t know anyone was out there. It was a miracle.”
Urey, a rideshare driver whose work evaporated, was living in her car with her newborn before we matched her with a temporary foster family and, later, pooled funds internally for an extended stay hotel. Soon, we were able to help her secure transitional housing.
“I didn’t know there were organizations like Catholic Charities in existence, ” Urey said. “They went above and beyond. Who would you even call in that situation otherwise.”
Bianca was battling food insecurity. Ivonne was recovering from an abusive relationship. Henry was running from the real-life nightmare of losing his wife to cancer. The stories are many and all-too real; I hope you will visit our website and read their stories and struggles. Like you and me, these are everyday people fighting horrific situations, but determined to change their fates. Read how we put our faith in action and understand on a human level why our work is truly essential.
Our staff has been pushed to their limits, working overtime, and making sacrifices to show our neighbors that we are here and willing to help. We recently had to bury one of our dedicated team members. Our cook for the senior nutrition program in the Valley passed-away after 28 years of service. His family could not afford a service for him; and, although it was not a gathering, our team pitched in and made his burial possible because he is a part of our family. We continue to feed the most vulnerable in honor of his service.
Most pressingly, Catholic Charities needs your support now to continue to serve our neighbors. The pandemic is slowly subsiding, but the need as I see it with my own eyes, and from what I hear from our team, is more widespread than ever. We are not stopping or slowing down; nor, will we ever return to the “normal” we once knew. Just Like 100 years ago, Catholic Charities’ mission is etched in history, with strength and hope ~ join us as we say in our campaign motto “You and Me” together, for the future…
I pray that our good Lord blesses and protects you, your loved ones, our country, and our world.
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Photographed at (from top to bottom) Volunteer helping direct traffic at our National City distribution site, Knights of Columbus State Advocate
Rene & Carla Trevino giving a helping hand, pictures of donations made to CCDSD including food and supplies to help the most vulnerable, Staff at Rachel’s Women’s Center, Home-Delivery of items, thank you from Catholic Charities and our clients.