Congress is on recess until September 7. Your Senators and
Representatives are home and it is critical that they hear from you during this
period at home in your district. When they return to < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />
they will be forced to make decisions that will have an impact on almost every
program as they attempt to reduce the national debt. A bi-partisan “super
committee” will be tasked with drawing up plans to aggressively reduce funding
levels, and programs that serve those in need will doubtless be at stake.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
We urge you to communicate with your members of Congress to
let them know about the challenges that are facing families in your community.
What you can do:
Participate in a town hall meeting … during the summer
recess, many representatives will hold town hall meetings and other events to
hear directly from their constituents. It is critical that community members
take part in these events and share the challenges they are currently facing
with their elected officials.
To find out if your elected officials are planning a town
hall meeting, please click: http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/NetCommunity/Document.Doc?id=2373.
For information on participating in a public forum, please
Call your member of Congress and urge them to continue to
fight to ensure that those in need are not affected disproportionately by
federal cuts to critical services. To identify your legislators, please visit http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=1458.
Take the time to cultivate relationships with your members
of Congress. Schedule a visit with your member’s district office to discuss
issues affecting your community, or invite your member of Congress to visit
What you can ask your
On August 1, the President signed into law legislation to
government to increase the national debt by $2.1 trillion. However, the
legislation that was passed requires that this spending be offset by equivalent
reductions in spending over a 10-year period.
While the legislation does not affect mandatory spending
such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, it does call for significant
reduction in discretionary spending. The measure calls for a bipartisan “super
committee” to determine spending cuts, and for Congress to vote on these
reductions by December 23, 2011. If Congress fails to approve the committee’s
recommendations, the legislation would enact an automatic trigger that would
result in $1.2 trillion in reductions to defense appropriations, domestic
spending, and some Medicare programs. Given that both parties have substantial
reasons to be displeased with the triggers if they fail to approve the
Committee’s recommendations, it is likely that they will work on reaching an
agreement to reduce spending in the next couple weeks.
In anticipation of potential cuts to programs, there is
likely to be an all-out lobbying frenzy by special interest groups to protect
their programs. Now is a critical time for the Catholic Charities USA network
to mobilize and explain our vision of transformative change in the social
service delivery system in
For more information, please contact Lucreda Cobbs, Senior
Director, Policy and Legislative Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Ron Jackson, Senior Director, Government Affairs at email@example.com.
The following is a statement from Catholic Charities USA President Rev. Larry Snyder about the 2012 budget proposals:
“Catholic Charities USA and our local agencies recognize the fiscal challenges facing our nation’s policymakers. To that end, we appreciate the leadership shown by both President Barack Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan in their focus on addressing our nation’s deficit in their individual budget proposals for FY 2012.
“We appreciate the continued priority President Obama has placed on investment in innovative programs that address many of the greatest challenges facing Americans across the country and are pleased to see the lively discussion over the issue of entitlement reform sparked by Rep. Paul Ryan.
“We recognize that our country’s leaders are grappling with many of the same tough budgeting decisions our volunteers and the families we serve through our hundreds of local programs around the country struggle with on a daily basis and acknowledge that social service initiatives will not be immune to the many tough choices that will be made as part of this process. However, we continue to reject the notion that those most vulnerable among us should feel the greatest impact of future reductions in spending.
“While the proposed ideas for streamlining state control over traditionally federally executed initiatives are an important part of the discussion for reform, a key ingredient is missing in the proposed prescriptions for America’s economic future; the focus on a much-needed larger conversation regarding efficacy and efficiency in the spending of taxpayer dollars, whether that be through state or federal government.
“Data has shown that as much as 40 cents of every dollar allocated to existing government initiatives that provide a variety of assistance to the American people struggling through the economic recovery are lost in the bureaucratic red tape associated with those programs. True government reform necessitates a conversation dedicated to wise investment in efficiency and efficacy, not simply a reallocation of federal versus state responsibility in delivery. Simply repackaging responsibilities for the administration of existing programs continues to miss the opportunity for true reform that has the potential to both aid the country’s nascent economic recovery and enable those most vulnerable among us to establish a stronger path to self-sufficiency.
“We encourage our nation’s policymakers to embrace the urgency of our nation’s fiscal challenge as reason for the creation of a new national approach to service delivery models that is market-driven, results-oriented and locally controlled, enabling the country to permanently make a difference in the lives of those living in poverty, and establishing accountability for the investment of taxpayer dollars. We continue to ask the President and members of Congress to join us in a critical conversation to identify long term economically sustainable solutions to the entrenched problems facing our country and its many local communities. But until that conversation takes place, and government has adequately addressed the issue of bureaucratic inefficiency, Catholic Charities will continue to fight to ensure that those in need are not disproportionately affected by cuts to critical services, at the state or federal level.”
For more information about Catholic Charities USA visit http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/.
Catholic Charities USA President Rev. Larry Snyder made the following statement regarding President Obama’s FY 2012 budget and current budget proposals being discussed within the United States Congress:
“Catholic Charities USA and our local agencies recognize that President Obama and the members of the United States Congress are finally facing many of the same tough decisions our volunteers and the families who we serve through our hundreds of local programs around the country have been struggling with at home during these difficult economic times.
“We agree with the continued priority President Obama has placed on investing in innovative, effective and efficient programs that address many of our country’s greatest community challenges but we acknowledge that tough choices will be made as part of the ongoing budget discussions. Every one of these tough choices will be met with anger, frustration and disappointment from certain segments of the population. Catholic Charities USA recognizes that social service initiatives will not be immune to those difficult decisions.
“However, as the President and members of Congress alike look for savings within the budget, we reject the notion that those most vulnerable among us should feel the greatest impact of future reductions. Data has shown that as much as forty cents of every dollar allocated to existing federal initiatives that provide greatly needed assistance to Americans who continue to struggle through this economic recovery are lost in the bureaucratic red tape associated with those programs. If we truly want to reform government in a manner that wisely invests in efficiency and efficacy, we urge our nation’s policymakers to look for ways to achieve recommended cuts by creating and maximizing bureaucratic efficiency first, rather than by simply sacrificing vital services on the ground, resulting in a further strain on families who are already barely getting by.
“Rather than simply embracing quick answers to the immediate need to shave dollars off the federal budget by impairing local organizations’ ability to deliver critical services to those in need, now is the time to work together to create a new national approach to service delivery models that is market driven, results oriented and locally controlled, enabling the country to permanently make a difference in the lives of those living in poverty that have for years been trapped in the same safety net that was originally intended to save them. We can no longer continue to push the same challenges we have been neglecting to address for years onto the next generation of Americans. To that extent, today we ask President Obama and the members of Congress to join us in a critical conversation to identify long term solutions to the entrenched problems facing our country and its many local communities. But until that conversation takes place, and government takes the steps necessary to reform its service delivery systems, we will continue to fight to ensure that those in need are not affected disproportionately by cuts to critical services.
“We are living in a time of great challenge. Challenge to the country’s economy, challenge to our nation’s leaders and challenge to every American. But with great challenge comes the opportunity for reinvention. Catholic Charities USA embraces this challenge. We will continue to work every day to provide critical emergency services to those in need, and in so doing, we pledge to continue to work to find greater efficiency within our own programs, and we look forward to working with our country’s policymakers to forever change the way we address the needs of so many in our country.”
The eleventh hour, of the eleventh day… Armistice Day. The End of the War “to end all wars” - now known as World War I. A war my grandfather fought in, leaving
In and out of VA hospitals my grandfather struggled with demons brought out during the conflict. Years later, after my own father’s service in
The story doesn’t have a happy ending. My grandfather continued to struggle and before I was even born, my father had to call the ambulance for his father to go to the hospital for the last time.
Fifty years later, it’s Veterans Day, and I am thinking about all this as I am a veteran now myself.
Do I want to celebrate? Do I need to put on old uniforms and march?
Perhaps like in the past, I can mark the holiday with service, taking a few veterans from the hospital down to enjoy the parade and see that some people do still appreciate their service.
While parades for the military don’t seem to be popular in this part of
I was taught values at my Catholic high school, including the motto – “A man for others.” Service to others. When I joined the Reserve in later life, I found Army values to be compatible with my Catholic values in many ways. Selfless-service is one of the seven Army values … doing the service because it needs to be done, not because you will profit or be recognized, but just because it needs to be done and you might be in the right place and time to do it.
Now it is 2010 and I have returned from deployments and other adventures that life has brought me and find myself working at Catholic Charities in a new program – Mission Rebuild. Building on gospel values, we are helping homeless veterans towards optimal independent living. The promise of dignity and compassionate care drives me to go the extra mile for our clients, wading through regulations and rules that seem to serve the service providers more than the needy.
Today, November 11, 2010 – let’s just take a moment to thank all those who served in our nation’s armed forces from the first volunteers who helped found the Continental Army in 1775, to the men and women in uniform overseas right now doing a job that many choose not to do.
Few veterans become rich, famous, or otherwise highly regarded for the self-less service. Many don’t even talk about it. You might not even know that a friend or family member served. Some prefer to keep that part of their life in the past along with conflicted feelings about what may have happened. As American’s though, we can simply recognize the good works of all those who served.
Catholic Charities of
A vote for children
Please join us in voting Yes on Measure A.
The county’s Healthy Kids program — part of the Children’s Health Initiative of 2001 — was the first in the nation to provide universal health insurance coverage for children up to age 19 in families that make less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level. It covers health and vision care, and has resulted in an increase in care from about 12 percent to an estimated 97 percent of eligible children.
The program in the past decade has provided access to care for about 37,000 children, and helped many thousands more get connected to state and federal health programs. It has been funded largely through private grants and donations, but the economic slump has sharply undercut those sources. The parcel tax would be for 10 years, providing dependable funding. Revenues would be in a special account monitored by a “Citizens Oversight Committee,” with annual reports.
The Healthy Kids program leverages an estimated $24 million annually in state and federal funding that comes to Santa Clara County, and it benefits school attendance.
CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Sen. Robert P. Casey (D-PA) and Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) have introduced The National Opportunity and Community Renewal Act, S. 3854, a culmination of twelve months of work by Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) in their Centennial year to identify innovative strategies existing in communities throughout the country that will serve to revamp our nation’s approach to poverty prevention and alleviation.
“With this legislation, today we tell the tens of millions of Americans living in poverty that there is a new hope. That they are not destined to live in poverty for their entire lives,” said Fr. Snyder. “That with the help provided in this legislation, people in need will be propelled onto a path of self-sufficiency, enabling them to achieve new legacies of health and happiness for their families.”
The National Opportunity and Community Renewal Act updates current service eligibility criteria, set by approximation of a 1960’s food budget, using both the Human Development Index and the Supplemental Poverty Measurement. Recognizing that individuals and households who receive social services do not require the same amount or type of resources, this legislation establishes a tiered system for determining those needs. In an effort to develop an adequate measurement for evaluation of poverty relief programs, it also encourages the design of a system that would incorporate the gathering and analysis of qualitative information alongside quantitative data to illustrate the success (or failure) of existing programs and in turn inform decisions to invest in those programs.
“This legislation represents an essential step forward if our country expects to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those struggling with poverty,” said CCUSA’s Candy S. Hill, Senior Vice President for Social Policy and Government Affairs. “For far too long our nation has been satisfied with the status quo and our safety nets have suffered. The National Opportunity and Community Renewal Act puts a focus on market driven solutions and results oriented programs to make sustainable change for the 43 million Americans living in poverty today.”
Catholic Charities USA has served as advocate for the poor for over one hundred years. For more information on The National Opportunity and Community Renewal Act, visit http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/netcommunity/Document.Doc?id=2397.
I am still in awe over my meeting with President Barack Obama in the
Oval Office. I joined six other leaders from Catholic Charities USA in
meeting with the president and Joshua DuBois, Director of the White
House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Initiatives.
President Obama welcomed us with a hearty “Happy Birthday” shout to
Catholic Charities USA on its 100th anniversary. He greeted each of us
personally at the door and welcomed us to chairs and couches in the Oval
Office. It was like walking into someone’s (very nicely re-done) living
room. We were served coffee, tea, juices and water.
The President talked about his respect for Catholic Charities and Fr.
Larry’s role on the Whitehouse advisory committee for faith-based
initiatives. He noted his own experience community organizing in Chicago
with funding from the Catholic Church’s Campaign for Human Development,
and he named a number of the Catholic churches he organized with. He
talked about how now that the immediate economic emergency is over,
there is much more needed to do to help those in poverty and who need
jobs. He said his focus on cutting poverty is on getting the economy
back on track to create jobs as well as the longer term strategy of
Fr. Larry Snyder, President of CCUSA talked about our long history of
working for those in poverty in partnership with the government and of
being an immigrant church. Candy Hill, VP for Social Policy at CCUSA
discussed our landmark anti-poverty legislation which is locally
controlled, flexible for clients, and focused on providing a trampoline
rather than only safety net. It is basically the Promise Neighborhood
model on steroids for social services.
The President was very engaging, warm, thoughtful, and genuine. …Just
an ordinary guy doing an extraordinary job…like each one of us. He
asked thoughtful questions and invited each of us to speak. As he spoke,
I noticed just over his left shoulder a bronze bust of Lincoln. The
symbolism was iconic.
I got the opportunity to talk about the needs of families in San Jose
and the creative anti-poverty work of Catholic Charities and of our
partnership initiatives including Step Up Silicon Valley and the
Franklin-McKinley Children’s Initiative. I told the story from
Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath of Ma Joad telling Pa to bring the
preacher with them on their trek to California from Oklahoma. Ma Joad
said, “It’s not ‘Can we’, it’s ‘Will we’.” And I added, “Mr. President,
together, ‘Yes, we can’ and ‘Yes, we will’ cut poverty.”
We ended our conversation with a prayer led by Bishop Joe Sullivan. It
was an amazingly powerful experience to stand holding hands in a prayer
circle with the President of the United States of America in the Oval
After a group picture he shook our hands and graciously said goodbye at the door.
We are truly blessed to have a President who understands the needs of
the people we serve and who is committed to helping our country move
All the best!
A youth named Aaron lives in one of the most impoverished and gang-impacted communities in
Catholic Charities has operated in a unique partnership with the City of
Without the Center, youth and young adults will lose critical services and role models that help them maintain a positive lifestyle and stay in school. Without this safe haven, there will be an increase in gang activity and youth violence in our City.
Catholic Charities is organizing in the community and working with our political leaders to find a way to keep the Center’s doors open. Look for announcements on our website and Facebook page about events and letter-writing campaigns. We ask for your support to help us continue to Change Lives for Good at
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A key struggle in the Campaign to Reduce Poverty in < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />
Social Enterprise Tax Credits will provide for profit corporations an incentive to invest in public benefit enterprises in a manner similar to the highly successful affordable housing tax credit program. Expanding the concept of affordable housing tax credits to other areas of social good creates the potential to leverage large sums of capital investments in these areas. Investors would receive a fixed tax credit percentage for their investment over a period of time. Since it is a tax credit and not simply a tax deduction, there is a greater advantage to the corporation and a larger benefit to the social enterprise.
Examples include creating capital investments in projects that are scalable and replicable and thus have the potential to reach large numbers of low-income individuals, such as 1) developing and distributing below market medicines and medical supplies; 2) creating access to information technologies by low-income communities; 3) expanding community-based sustainable agricultural; 4) sustaining, creating and/or expanding social businesses that develop living wage jobs; 5) developing and distributing low cost alternative energy to low-income communities; 6) developing high quality affordable schools in low-income communities.
Projects eligible for tax credit financing would have to demonstrate a public benefit in a way similar to affordable housing development, that is, certain percentages of beneficiaries would qualify for a price reduction based on incomes being lower than median income levels for the region.
TAX DAY 2010
Proposal: Help cut poverty by changing the current corporate tax code to enable for-profit corporations to maximize social and environmental good along with earning profits.
For profit publicly traded corporations have a primary responsibility to maximize the profit of their shareholders. The current law presents a barrier for corporations with a double and triple bottom line: (social good and environmental sustainability in addition to profits), in that it subordinates the mission of these businesses to a single dimension: economic profit to shareholders. However now there is a movement among businesses with a social purpose to change state corporation laws, e.g., < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />
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Check out http://www.bcorporation.net/.
This is a great way to get for profit corporations with a social conscience on board the Campaign to Reduce Poverty in
The images of natural disasters on TV show sudden devastation, evoking shock and pity and a natural desire to help. At the same time many in our own community are facing the unnatural disaster of poverty. This slow moving disaster is much quieter. You don’t see it on the nightly news, except perhaps through the occasional dry statistics on unemployment, foreclosure rates, homelessness, hunger and drop out rates. It’s felt more in the quiet desperation and frustration of families struggling hard to make ends meet and not quite making it. Yet this disaster threatens our very community with a poorly educated workforce, increased gang violence, increased rates of illness, and a growing gap between haves and have-nots.
Now imagine what life could be like for these families when they are able to step out of the cycle of poverty. Imagine a community in which everyone has a safe and decent home, where every child has an equal opportunity to succeed in school and isn’t afraid to walk home, where no child or senior goes to bed hungry, where all families have access to affordable quality healthcare including mental health care, and where all workers can make an honest living with pay sufficient to make ends meet.
Catholic Charities is dedicated to resolving the slow-moving tragedies in our midst. The everyday tragedies of workers without jobs, families without homes, children unable to read, individuals unable to get health care, and seniors without food should be at the forefront of our concerns.
When people — right in our own community — lack sufficient access to the basics like food, housing, jobs, education and health care, our faith calls us to act on their behalf regardless of their circumstances.
The time to act is now.
It is time for us to step up — to learn more about the reality of poverty in our midst, to step up and do more to help people help themselves, and to contribute toward cutting poverty in half by 2020.
What can we do?
Imagine the way that life could be for people in our community … and together let’s work to make it a reality.
All the best!
All affordable housing projects in San Jose would be halted for the next five years if San Jose’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA) enacts their proposal to use $75 million from its Affordable Housing fund in order to meet the State of California’s requirement that the agency give the state an interest free loan of $75 million.
This proposal by the RDA has a direct impact on nonprofit housing developers, including Charities Housing, and their ability to survive in the near future.
“To completely gut the one program that helps the poor is outrageous,” said Greg Kepferle, CEO of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and Board President of Charities Housing. “From a moral perspective it goes against the principle that the poor and vulnerable need to be protected first.”
The RDA’s proposal would pull the rug out from underneath the Destination: Home goal to end homelessness and Step Up Silicon Valley’s campaign to cut poverty (The City of San Jose is an official partner and endorser of both Destination: Home and Step Up Silicon Valley).
“We are asking that the RDA stop and consider other alternatives, such as a fair distribution of the cuts, or looking at lower priority development areas to cut first, or other creative solutions,” said Kepferle.
There are a number of savings the RDA can make by deferring lower priority projects out several years. We recognize that the RDA has already made substantial cuts and that more may be needed, but to completely gut the one program that helps the poor is outrageous.
Solutions and alternatives:
1. Affordable housing receives 20% of tax increment revenues, so should contribute 20% of debt, $15 million.
2. Delete $2 million in RDA capital expenditure and indirect for next two years. Capital budget has decreased by 67% but operations related to it only 20%.
3. Defer $10 million from “encumbered” projects of lowest priority.
4. Defer $10 million from lowest priority capital projects for next three years, that is 10% of these projects.
These will get RDA closer to dealing with the state without completely forcing the poor residents of the city to bear the entire burden.
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County’s Supportive Housing Services has a new housing program for homeless families currently in shelters. < ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Housing Specialists from Catholic Charities will help families locate and secure apartments to rent or lease throughout < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />
The program is intended to help homeless parents gain or increase their income through case management, employment counseling services and financial education services. There are also some funds available for childcare during educational workshops and other activities related to employment. Bus tokens or passes will be made available to help parents achieve their goals.
In order to be considered for the program, eligible parents:
Some special categorical needs, such as domestic violence, veteran status, and geographical location may be considered in reviewing the applications.
Anyone can refer an eligible family to our new program
If you have further questions about the program, please contact Edna Nagy at (408) 325-5100 x 309 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County’s largest fundraising effort to assist the poor takes place in May throughout the Diocese of San Jose.
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The May Appeal provides Catholic Charities its crucial unrestricted dollars, funds which can be allocated wherever they are most needed to better serve the poor and vulnerable.
“Help the poor hold on – together we can get through this,” is the theme of this year’s campaign. Last year nearly $600,000 was raised during the May Appeal and this year’s goal is to exceed $700,000.
Catholic Charities’ ability to sustain critical programs is directly tied to the Appeal’s outcome. Every gift will go directly to support Catholic Charities’ programs.
Nearly one in four households in < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />
When one-quarter of the people living in a community are poor, poverty should be considered a crisis. Last year we saw 37 percent more clients than the year before, and the numbers continue to climb. At the same time we are facing the challenges of cuts in government and foundation funds.
Catholic Charities is distributing more food at its service sites around the county and the agency has expanded its job training and job placement services. Catholic Charities is also proactively supporting state legislation that will help our clients – restoring long term care ombudsman funding, expanding outreach for Earned Income Tax Credits, and supporting a new economic security standard for elders.
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County annually serves more than 37,000 people of all cultures and beliefs through a broad base of programs including children/youth services and education; housing services; job skills training and placement; older adult services; mental health counseling; financial education; immigration; and refugee resettlement.
I know it feels harder to give at this time, but we need everyone’s help now, more than ever before. Through the work of Catholic Charities, a small sacrifice for us can make a big difference to others.
For about the cost of a family dinner in a nice restaurant, a donor could provide six weeks of computer classes to help one low-income youth do better in school or prepare for a job; purchase a work permit for a newly arrived refugee who is trying to support his family; or offer two days of adult day care for an elder with Alzheimer’s and give a much-needed break to their caregiver.
With the support of individuals in the parishes and the community, we can give people the tools they need to lift themselves from poverty and live with dignity and self-sufficiency.
Catholic Charities remains focused on helping build long-term self-sufficiency so that one day its clients would not need assistance anymore.
In addition to donating during the Masses, people may also contribute to the May Appeal by donating online at http://www.catholiccharitiesscc.org/.
And thanks to a Sobrato Family Foundation Challenge Grant, people can double their contributions. The Sobrato Family Foundation will match 2 to 1 every new dollar donated to Catholic Charities, which means any amount given above last year’s contribution will be matched by the Foundation.
To obtain more information about the Appeal or to make a donation, contact Cindy Zbin, Catholic Charities’ Associate Director of Development, (408) 325-5125 or email@example.com.
Propositions 1D and 1E deserve NO votes at this year’s May 19
California legislators are ignoring the will of the people who passed Proposition 10, an initiated constitutional amendment, in 1998 despite the tobacco industry spending more than $29 million in their attempt to defeat the ballot issue.
Proposition 10, the California Children and Families First Act of 1998, imposed additional tax on cigarettes of 50 cents/pack, as well as additional taxes on other tobacco products. With the revenue from those taxes, the state government created state and county commissions to establish early childhood development, school readiness, health insurance for children, adult education for parents and smoking prevention programs.
Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), has expanded and transformed California’s county mental health service systems by having high income individuals pay an additional one percent tax on individual, but not corporate, taxable income in excess of $1 million.
We can end the tragedies of kids failing in school, strengthen families, prevent homelessness, assist people with mental health issues and change lives for good by keeping in tact the program funding the voters had implemented. It was right then – and is right today.
Let’s keep Prop. 10 … the
Let’s keep Prop-63 … the Mental Health Services Act … for our children, our seniors, our neighbors and for our future.
Vote NO on Propositions 1D and 1E.
Recently I had the amazing opportunity to walk in our clients’ shoes and experience poverty – for an hour. I know that a “Poverty Simulation” can never re-create fully the day-in and day-out feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and frustration our families experience as they struggle to survive. Yet it profoundly touched me and inspired me to re-dedicate myself to ending poverty right here in Santa Clara County.
People often ask me how the economic crisis is affecting Catholic Charities. I often respond, “Business is booming — unfortunately.” Last year we saw 37% more clients than the year before, and the numbers continue to climb. At the same time we are facing the challenges of cuts in government and foundation funds. Fortunately at Christmas, individual donors came through as never before. As one donor said, “I may be hurting a little, but I know the people you serve are hurting a lot more.”
Even so, we are finding we can’t meet the growing need by ourselves. We find ourselves partnering more with other organizations and churches. Catholic Charities is distributing more food and we have expanded our job training and job placement services. We are proactively supporting state legislation that will help our clients – restoring long term care ombudsman funding, expanding outreach for Earned Income Tax Credits, and supporting a new economic security standard for elders.
Our task is deep and challenging. It asks for our best. It is not enough to feed more and more of our hungry seniors; it is not enough to raise the literacy levels of our students; it is not enough for us to help people with behavioral health issues move to recovery; it is not enough that we provide safe havens from gangs for youth; it is not enough that we create a welcoming home for immigrants and refugees. We must do more. We also must question the causes of poverty in the midst of such a wealthy county, and ask how that condition of poverty can be changed by individual, community, business, and government action. Join us and be an agent for change. Help the poor hold on.
All the best!
Gregory Kepferle, CEO Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County