Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Apr
  • 10

Catholic Charities: Because life has glitches

Posted By April 10, 2014 | 1:07 pm | Lead Story #3

By William T. Clew

WHITINSVILLE – “Life has its glitches,” said Noreen Landry.
“We’re here for the glitches. We are helping people to get on their feet.”
Mrs. Landry is area administrator for Catholic Charities in the Blackstone Valley and greater Milford area, which includes the office in the Whitinsville section of Northbridge. That office is in a house at 9 Spring St., practically in the back yard of the United Presbyterian Church of Whitinsville.
That location is handy, because each Wednesday night there is a dinner at that church. Those who come to the Catholic Charities office for help are told about those dinners, which are open to anyone,  Mrs. Landry said. The 13 churches in Northbridge take turns hosting those dinners.  Also, St. Patrick’s Church in Whitinsville  hosts a breakfast each Saturday morning, also available to anyone.
Mrs. Landry, a licensed certified social worker, meets with pastors in the area to learn about people in need. Some of them may need food, some may be short of fuel to heat their homes or need help paying for utilities. Others may need gasoline to get to work or to appointments.
The Catholic Charities office receives gift cards from several churches in town – including some that are not Catholic – for fuel oil, food and gasoline, Mrs. Landry said.
Those cards are used to provide help for people who use them to heat their homes, put meals on the table or make necessary trips. Northbridge has a food pantry, operated by the Northbridge Association of Churches. Catholic Charities does a food pantry assessment every three months on each of their clients to make sure that, if they need it, they continue receiving food and are receiving other benefits they are entitled to, Mrs. Landry said.
A home-care program, under contract to Tri-Valley Elder Services, is headquartered in the Whitinsville office. It covers southern Worcester County from Milford to Southbridge and as far north as Grafton, under the direction of Elaine Kolleshis, supervisor. The program has  two nurses, 50 homemakers and provides 3,000 hours of service a month. There also are offices in Leominster and Athol.
Heather MacDonald, administrator for the entire home-care program said the aides, who receive training from the nurses, provide a multitude of services to clients.  They provide companion services, help with housework and other chores and personal services including hygiene when needed.
The program helps keeps people out of nursing homes, Ms. MacDonald said.
A group in Whitinsville called Friends of Catholic Charities does fund-raising and has sent as much as $5,000 to Catholic Charities’ main office in Worcester. That money comes back to help in the Whitinsville office, she said.
Catholic Charities also receives support from the annual Partners in Charity Appeal, which contributed $350,000 to it from the 2013 fund drive. That money helps to support the six Catholic Charities locations in the Worcester Diocese. In addition to the Whitinsville office, they are at 12 Riverbend St., Athol; 196 Mechanics St., Leominster; 128 Main St., Milford; 79 Elm St., Southbridge, and 10 Hammond St., Worcester, which also includes the administrative offices.
“We are grateful to the people who donate to Partners in Charity, because without them we wouldn’t be here,” Mrs. Landry said.
Donors, numbers climb

The annual Partners in Charity Appeal has received $2,301,238 in gifts and pledges so far and is well on its way to reaching its $5 million goal, according to Michael P. Gillespie, diocesan director of Stewardship and Development.
“There is an obvious ‘we’re-all-in-this-together-to-the-very-end’ approach. This appeal will only be a success because of the collective efforts of all involved – pastors, parish chairs, committee volunteers, and supportive parishioners, who demonstrate exceptional generosity and thoughtfulness,” he said.
As of this week a total 7,078 donors have contributed. Still, 11,707 who have pledged previously have yet to do so this year.
Included among this year’s donors are 82 diocesan priests. They have given an average of $1,670 each, for a total of $136,955. Also, five diocesan seminarians have made personal gifts.
“Parishes are sending in new donor gifts daily. So far, 478 new donors, who have never given to the appeal previously, have now responded. Their gifts or pledges  total $59,843. More than half of the 102 parishes in the diocese are now reporting that they are 50 percent or higher in reaching goal. Online giving is still gaining popularity; we have received 465 gifts via this medium with a total of $202,775,” he said.
So far, 75 members of the St. Paul Society, who commit to giving at least $5,000 each year, have pledged a total of $494,400. Thirteen new members have joined.  So far, 36 members who contributed last year have yet to make a gift, Mr. Gillespie said.
The appeal continues until Aug. 31, the end of the fiscal year. However, Mr. Gillespie said, many pastors have asked that the appeal wind up early this year and reach its goal by July 1.
“Our office will do all we can to help bring this to fruition,” he said. “Thus it is important that each parish utilize all the promotional material they were provided a month ago, for example, bulletin-and-pulpit messages along with pledge envelopes.”
“We are cautiously optimistic as we reach the middle of April, knowing that once the warmer weather arrives the focus of our donors and most church attendees turns to parish confirmations, First Communions and graduations. The appeal tends to be off the radar for most, especially after Memorial Day weekend,” he said.
The annual Partners in Charity Appeal helps to support charitable, educational and ministerial organizations in the diocese. They include:
Catholic Charities, Clergy Retirement, Retired Priests Health Ministry, Haitian Apostolate, McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys, Pernet Family Health Services, Seminarian Health Insurance,
St. John’s Cemetery System, Diocesan Development, Stewardship
Catholic Campus Ministry, Catholic Schools Office, Office of Religious Education, Ongoing Priestly Formation, Youth & Young Adult Ministry, Seminarian Education, Grants-in-Aid for Catholic School Students, Central Catholic Schools Subsidy, Advanced Studies for Clergy and Laity, Communications Office
African Ministry, Hispanic Ministry, Office of Marriage and Family, Minister to Priests, Office of the Diaconate, Respect Life Office, Cathedral of St. Paul, Vocations, Office for Divine Worship, Wells Street House