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Catholic Charities continues to offer reduced rates

By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
(Email Renee)

The philosophy of Catholic Charities flows from the mission the Catholic Church has as it relates to charity said the agency’s executive director.

Jerry Eaton said the mission of charity goes all the way back to Christ.

“We are to love one another. We are to reach out to one another with love,” he said. “We are to treat others as we would like to be treated. All of those things direct us and guide us in who it is we are and what it is we do.”
Eaton pointed out that there are many activities that parishes can do on their own which are charitable from food banks to clothing outlets. These sorts of good works are often done well with volunteers.

“We needed to do something special – offer services that no one else could provide,” he said. “Catholic Charities decided long before I came to work here to provide the services of counseling and therapy.”

Instead of people having to be in a position of being dependent on others, Eaton said they try to help them work through their problems so that they can become successful, contributing members of society.

Once the mission of the agency had been established, from the beginning the agency’s original director decided that they wanted to provide the best quality services. Workers were sent off to school for their master’s degrees at a time when a bachelor’s degree was standard in the field.

“We were providing the highest quality of therapy and counseling services to those most in need at a cost they could afford,” said Eaton, who added that the sliding fee didn’t actually even exist initially because in the beginning the services were offered at no charge.

The sliding fee was established when Catholic Charities decided it would be better for people to pay at least something for the service so they would be more invested in the process. A multi-layered sliding fee scale continues today so that those who can afford the least pay less and those who can afford more do so.

“Through the years we’ve kept track of things. We’ve always done a very good job of being able to serve the poor,” he said. “But when the financial crisis hit in 2008 when the stock market dropped and we went into severe financial crisis, we looked at how we could serve those who had their savings and retirement incomes lost in the stock market and those who were losing their jobs. We were not serving very many people in the middle or higher incomes.”

Catholic Charities evaluated its sliding fee scale and opted to lower all fees across the board by one-third. As a result, the agency began to serve more from the middle- and higher-income without insurance who were unable to afford their services in the past.

Because people were so hard hit with the economic downturn, Eaton said lowering the fees was an important part of staying true to the mission of Christ. It was a matter of doing what needed to be done - the right thing to do at the right time.

Catholic Charities has been able to keep those reduced rates because donors have supported the agency’s efforts in meeting this need.

“It’s the crises in our lives that tend to bring out the best in us,” said Eaton, who cited the example of the tornado in Mapleton where people gave of their time or financial support to help others whom they didn’t even know.

After the tornado in Mapleton, Eaton said they were able to request and secure a grant for the community from Catholic Charities USA. The parish there, St. Mary Church, was able to decide how the money was distributed and who it was distributed to. He found this to be a great example of “somebody giving money and then not getting in the way of how it was utilized.”

“When we had the flood, many people needed help to move the furniture out of the houses, find a place to live and sandbag,” he said. “All kinds of people gave of themselves because it was the right thing to do.”

He pointed out that oftentimes the busyness and stress of everyday life doesn’t allow people to give of themselves the way they do in crisis situations.

In relation to the flood, Eaton noted that because it was an ongoing situation rather than a rapid one, people were in a holding pattern, trying to save their things and property rather than care for themselves so the agency didn’t see large numbers seeking counseling. The coming months, he said, after things settle, could see an increase in those seeking counseling.

While the economy may be beginning to turn around he said one thing that hasn’t changed is the cutbacks in state and federal funding that impacts social services.

“We have to get back to who we are,” Eaton said. “We are a charity and we are dependent upon our donors.”
Every year parishes in the diocese take up a collection for Catholic Charities at Christmas.

Ways people can help Catholic Charities

• Pray for those served and those who serve them at Catholic Charities.

• Contribute to Catholic Charities when you are able during the year - the need for service to others is always before us.  The gifting of grain is always in season.

• Volunteer with an organization in your local community that helps to strengthen the family and build values in youth.

• If you have an insurance policy that has outlasted its intended purpose, consider making Catholic Charities the beneficiary.  Contact your agent to attain the form necessary to do this.

• For a tax-wise gift, consider making Catholic Charities the beneficiary of your IRA—talk to your plan administrator to see how to make this happen and attain the proper paperwork.

• Encourage others who are in need of our services to make the call – (712) 252-4547.

• Remember Catholic Charities  through your will or through a will codicil.
Potential verbage: “I give and bequeath to Catholic Charities (Federal ID#: 42-0681062) the sum of $______ (or a set percentage). 

• By using the following language, you may also remember Catholic Charities with the remainder of your estate: “I give and bequeath the residual of my estate to Catholic Charities - Federal ID#: 42-0681062.”


 Those who give contributions to Catholic Charities and offer prayers are working hand in hand with counselors to help provide hope, healing and understanding for those who seek our help.  Clients may never know or see the donors.  In their own way, clients have provided a great service to the donors: an opportunity to serve and give back. 

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