By RENEE WEBB
For many years, government funding played a significant role in the financing of counseling agencies like Catholic Charities.
At one-time government funding provided about half of the budget but that all began to change in the late 1990s and the need to secure donations grew. In 2017, there was no government funding.
With that in mind, Steve Elbert, development director at Catholic Charities, stressed the importance of contributions.
“Contributors work hand-in-hand with us to continue service to those most in need,” he said. “The kindness of others’ shoulders is 70 percent of our yearly budget. Our donors are a blessing to those we serve.”
Catholic Charities provides a sliding fee scale so that those in most financial need may seek help. One-third of the families served, Elbert added, are at the poverty level.
“Over the last 10 years, faithful contributors have been there for Catholic Charities allowing an average of $300,000 in charity care each year for those who may not have been able to receive therapy care elsewhere,” Elbert said.
In addition to counseling, he said the generosity of donors helps provide outreach to rural communities and schools, crisis counseling, staff training and subsidizes adoption searches.
One of his goals during this 75th anniversary year is to increase the number of monthly or quarterly donors to 75. Currently, there are about 20 individuals/couples who give regularly.
Father Michael Erpelding, pastor at the parishes in Onawa and Salix, has been a monthly donor for about five years.
“I believe in the mission of Catholic Charities to empower and strengthen families by charity, advocacy and mental health services,” he said. “These are the call of the Gospel, especially identified in the last judgment of the 25th chapter of Matthew. It is clear in this Gospel that we are destined to damnation if we refuse to assist those in need.”
Father Erpelding is not only a member of the current board of directors for Catholic Charities, but he has been a client there, “when I have found life difficult. Catholic Charities is an organization that is among my support system that allows me to live my faith in a healthy way.”
Because he believes he is among the luckiest and most blessed, it is important to the priest to share what he has with those who have difficulties.
John Schmidt of Alton and his wife Elsa have no formal connection with Catholic Charities but added it to their list of supported charities because they believe in the agency’s mission and wanted to support another local/area organization.
“Catholic Charities helps people physically, mentally and spiritually, so we thought it would be a good place to donate some money,” he said.
Initially, Schmidt noted, they gave to Catholic Charities a couple of times a year but weren’t consistent about when or how much they gave. Since they paid some bills through an automatic monthly deduction, eventually it occurred to him to go that route with donations to Catholic Charities because this added not only consistency but ease in giving. The Schmidts have been doing this for about eight years now.
“We are retired and on a fixed income, so we have to watch our pennies, but at the same time, we don’t believe Catholic Charities is a place where we should be reducing what we have been giving these past years,” Schmidt said.
Mary Bruner of Carroll and her husband, Barry, also began giving to Catholic Charities on a monthly basis several years ago. As members of Catholic Charities board of directors and living in a community with a branch office, they became aware of the good work done by the agency and wanted to support it in an ongoing way.
“Both Barry and I, because we are board members, see what a huge impact and outreach Catholic Charities have in the diocese and the communities they are in,” she said. “This ranges from counseling to support for families, parenting classes, crisis intervention and now they are in schools. We like that by giving to the organization, those contributions have an impact.”
Bruner said they are humbled and honored to be part of an organization that makes such a difference in the lives of many.
“During our 75th anniversary year, Catholic Charities will be working to secure the future for families for the next 75 years,” Elbert said. “Over our history, priests, adoptive parents, adoptees, former clients and others aligned with our mission have remembered Catholic Charities through bequests made in their will, an insurance policy, life estate, gift of land and/or stock.”
The gifts, he added, have ranged from three to seven figures.
“We are hoping to plant seeds with 75 faith-filled, mission-minded people who want to leave the world in a better place for families through a bequest or other planned gift,” Elbert said.
If you are interested in helping Catholic Charities reach its goal of securing 75 regular monthly/quarterly donors, go to cathchar.com and click on donate now.
During this 75th anniversary year, Catholic Charities’ quest is to: Secure the Future for Families in Need.
Four main areas of focus include:
1) Expand Charity, Advocacy, and Mental Health Services to Rural Areas
2) Grow Specialized Services for Children
3) Sustainable Community Outreach Program for Families in Crisis
4) Catholic Charities’ Endowment – to Help Secure Our Work with Families