Catholic Charities’ changes strive to get more resources into the hands of the needy
By John Gleason
Photo by James Baca/DCR
Big changes are in store for Catholic Charities of the Denver Archdiocese that aim to allow the organization to better serve those in need.
The high cost of maintaining emergency assistance centers in metropolitan Denver combined with the knowledge of the large number of food and clothing banks offering similar services, led Charities’ administrators to decide to target its resources on assisting people with rent, mortgage and utility assistance, and leave food and clothing aid to the numerous groups already providing those services.
The decision means carving out space for a new entity, St. Veronica Outreach Ministry, at the Catholic Charities Denver office located at 4045 Pecos St., and closing two emergency assistance centers—one in Denver and one in Aurora. The two emergency assistance centers will continue to operate through Aug. 31.
Beginning Sept. 1, emergency assistance for the metro area—including Adams, Arapahoe, Denver and Jefferson counties—will be operated out of St. Veronica Outreach by appointment only.
Catholic Charities’ emergency assistance ministries in Fort Collins, Greeley and on the Western Slope are not affected by these changes.
Geoff Bennett, vice president of Shelter and Community Outreach, said the change doesn’t alter the mission of Catholic Charities, which will continue to provide help to the poor.
“This is simply the most cost-effective way of providing services,” he said. “People will be able to seek utility, rent or mortgage help. Those who are looking for food will be directed to one of the more than 80 food banks currently in operation.”
St. Veronica Outreach
Emergency rent, mortgage and utility assistance services begin Sept. 1, 2011.
Catholic Charities President and CEO Jonathan Reyes noted that instead of spending money to support the stand-alone emergency assistance sites, the consolidation makes better use of resources—in short, it’s good stewardship.
“Catholic Charities wanted to focus on keeping people in their homes,” he said. “With this move we can direct aid into the hands of those who need it as opposed to using it for overhead costs.”
Reyes explained that many food banks are operated by volunteers and often space is donated. Catholic Charities meanwhile operates emergency assistance centers, which includes giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars provided by the Federal Emergency Management agency and other government organizations. In order to do that, it has to be run as a business.
“If we were just distributing food, we could rely just on volunteers—they’re very efficient at it,” he said. “But because of what we do we need recordkeeping, we need people hired to the task.”
Streamlining the aid process doesn’t mean that providing food isn’t still a high priority of Catholic Charities. In fact Reyes says it’s just the opposite.
“Remember Samaritan House still feeds hundreds of people everyday,” Reyes said. “It’s a big job and they’ll continue to take donations from whoever would like to donate.”
Reyes said that Catholic Charities will continue to do everything it can to help the disadvantaged.
“We need to think creatively and pro-actively,” he said, “and determine the best, most efficient way to get aid to people in need.”
Beginning Sept. 1, those who wish to apply for rent, mortgage or utility assistance must call the appointment line, 720-377-1313. Applicants must be able to provide picture ID, proof of address, nature of emergency and proof of income. Appointments, which are limited and based upon funding availability, will be held at either St. Veronica Outreach or at designated parishes.