Works of charity collection ‘fills in the gaps’

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Thank-you notes convey the value of donations that parishioners in the Diocese of Davenport make during the summertime collection for Diocesan Works of Charity. More than 20 agencies benefited from funds generated in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

“The gift you sent will buy 3,571 pounds of food at the Food Bank of Iowa,” wrote Chuck Galeazzi of The Helping Hands Food Pantry of Knoxville. The agency received $500 from last year’s collection to feed the hungry. “May God, the source of hope, fill you and everyone you meet with peace and joy,” Galeazzi said in his thank-you note.

Ferris

“I want to thank you for your generous donation to our minority senior citizen meal site,” wrote Alicia Rodriguez of The Diversity Center of Iowa in Muscatine. “It is through support like yours that we are able to accomplish our goals.” The $500 received from last year’s collection helps bring together Latino senior citizens ages 60 and older with limited incomes and English-speaking skills, Rodriguez said. “Thank you for making a difference in the lives of those we serve!”

Amy Spencer of Food for All in Kalona expressed thanks for a $500 donation that serves as a “great encouragement in the midst of the difficulties and joys of charity work.”

Funds from the Works of Charity collection generated $27,055 in fiscal year 2014-15 and remain in the diocese to serve people in need. “The Diocesan Works of Charity collection is one way that we, as local church, can work to respond to suffering in our part of the world,” Bishop Martin Amos said prior to this year’s collection (July 24-25). He noted that the previous year’s collection assisted agencies with funding to respond to emergency needs of families through food pantries, clothing for children without adequate winter wear and assistance to homeless shelters and housing programs for those with special needs.

The Davenport Diocese views Works of Charity as assisting agencies already providing assistance and in need of additional financial support.
“The Social Action Office, home to Catholic Charities, receives hundreds of calls a year, much in the same way parishes do, from folks in urgent need. We make informed referrals to neighbor agencies for a wide range of services,” said Kent Ferris, the Social Action Office director.

“We also monitor trends. Requests for rent assistance remain at the top of the list. We also look for local parishes to provide feedback on their local needs. Knowledge of the real needs being experienced will help us shape future Works of Charity funds distribution, while remaining true to donor intent. We are members both of our parish communities as well as the greater community. The diocesan Works of Charity collection remains a strong means by which we can address the needs of our neighbor brothers and sisters.”

Works of Charity funds this past year, for instance, were distributed to 14 community groups in 11 counties and in every deanery addressing local hunger. Donations also went to agencies providing mental health care, family services and refugee community integration support, as well as assistance with critical repairs to one of the Catholic Worker Houses in the diocese. Churches United of the Quad City Area received funding for its CareLink program to assist with rent and emergency assistance. Funds also helped diocesan Immigration Office clients who have no income or extended family support to pursue legal documentation to work towards employment and self-sufficiency. Project Rachel, a post-abortion healing ministry, received funding as well.

“Works of Charity fills in the gaps and allows for a diocesan response to local needs that may be beyond any particular parish’s ability,” Ferris observed.

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