Contributors Inside Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities plans how to best address emerging needs  

Lauren Solidum is the executive director of Catholic Charities.

by Lauren Solidum

Jesus tells us that the poor will always be with us. This is not a message of despair, but one of hope, encouragement and challenge to love and serve those in need.

Jesus is clear that poverty is not a result of fate, but a concrete sign pointing to his presence among us. Jesus is also clear that, as Catholics, charity is not simply something good to do. More so, charity is an obligation of the faithful as we attempt to closely follow the ways in which Jesus calls us to live. We see him in the lives of the poor, their sufferings and in their often-inhumane living conditions.

What does this have to do with our annual gala, Snow Ball? The 50th annual Snow Ball was wildly successful, raising $5.2 million, thanks to the love and generosity of many for the mission of Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas (CCNEK).

I have nothing but immense gratitude. But, prompted by Jesus’ words, we cannot stop there. It is very important for the flock to understand that Snow Ball is 10% of the agency’s total budget. Meaning, we cannot rely solely on the success of Snow Ball to fuel the agency’s initiatives or maintain our current 30-plus programs.

Barely an hour after announcing the total, Archbishop Naumann challenged Catholic Charities as to what we will do next to serve the most vulnerable in our archdiocese.

I have a vision where when you Google any need, the Catholic Church pops up first as a solution. Need food? The Catholic Church can help. Need housing? The Catholic Church can help. Divorce, loss, addiction? The Catholic Church can help. With this vision in mind and with resources to deploy, our team will begin the next strategic planning process this fall.

Some of the needs that we will review include: addressing emergent, transitional living and permanent housing; determining the feasibility of a mental health clinic or offering some greater form of advanced counseling for marriage, family, substance abuse and other mental health challenges; expanding outreach of our programs throughout our archdiocese; preparing for and responding to disasters; ensuring that our brothers and sisters with special needs are being served with the same access and intentionality as those without special needs; and creating new social enterprises, like TurnStyles Thrift and Morning Glory Estate Sales — offering living-wage employment for the under- or unemployed and financial resources for our services.

The next three to five years will be critical for CCNEK to respond in light of the great generosity of our community and the continued needs of those who we are privileged to serve.

How is Jesus calling you to engage in the work of charity? 

About the author

Lauren Solidum

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