Two decades of doing good
VAIL — For more than 20,000 people over the last two decades, Catholic Charities has been the hand up they needed.
It’s like this: In less time than it takes you to watch a “Friends” rerun, Catholic Charities has fielded three requests for help – maybe a homeless family, maybe emergency assistance.
One guy hobbled in on crutches. They did everything Jesus said you should: fed him, clothed him and made sure he had a place to stay. They got him back on his feet, both literally and metaphorically.
“My biggest thrill was to go back to work, and without Catholic Charities I would never have been able to do that,” he said.
“John” is a single father and an American military veteran raising his severely disabled 4-year old daughter. He came to Catholic Charities when he was facing immediate eviction. His utilities were shut off after his employer refused to pay $6,000 in wages he owed John, and John couldn’t find another job.
Catholic Charities helped him keep his house and get electricity, put him together with veterans’ services and got him access to his daughter’s social security disability.
It’s all in a day’s work.
Helping the helpers
Catholic Charities is hosting a benefit, Designs for Hope, on Sept. 30 at the Four Seasons Resort in Vail. You need to RSVP by Friday or early next week. Silent auction items include an Alaskan fishing trip (www.waterfallresort.com) and a week in Playa del Carmen (www.vrbo.com/9348).
In the beginning
Msgr. Tom Tentici was pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Minturn, and in 1995 helped open a Western Slope office for Denver’s Catholic Charities. They found a small spot in the basement of Vail’s Interfaith Chapel. Tom Doerk ran the place.
The goal was, and is, to provide services to the working community. Issues two decades ago included lack of affordable housing, the high cost of living and the stresses families face working in the local service industry — which remain the issues working families face today.
“We continue to address many of these same areas of need,” said Marian McDonough, director of Catholic Charities’ Western Slope offices.
The Vail Valley offices serve an average of 1,800 families each year, said Megan Bonta, who runs them.
“The families we work with, these are the families who make up the community, these are the kids in the schools, these are the people working the jobs, these are the people paying taxes here,” Bonta said.
In the past three years, local Catholic Charities has helped people recover more than $160,000 in unpaid wages.
Their entire region covers 16,000 square miles; McDonough spends more time on the road than anything not named Firestone.
Many families live paycheck-to-paycheck, and when they have an emergency, they need help navigating resources to come up with the money they need.
“They’ve gone through their savings, trimmed expenses and they’re surviving, but then something happens: a medical emergency, the car breaks down or one of the kids needs glasses — just enough to put them in financial distress,” McDonough said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.