The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread medical and economic pain, with the deepest devastation felt by members of our communities who were already facing hardships. One such group is undocumented residents, many who already experience challenges accessing social services and are ineligible for federal aid.
As part of its COVID-19 response and broader work with at-risk communities, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County – a longtime SVCF grantee and a recipient of funding from SVCF’s COVID-19 Nonprofit Emergency Support Fund – has stepped in to offer support. In partnership with the state of California and the County of Santa Clara, Catholic Charities worked to get cash relief to undocumented members of the community and share critical information about eviction moratoriums, shelter, legal support, food access, and public health. Getting the program up and running as quickly as they did was a huge undertaking and an act of tremendous community service during a time of great need. In the past eight months, Catholic Charities has fed over 400,000 individuals, ten times more people than the agency served in all its programs in the previous year.
“This has been a year when the stakes seem especially high,” said Jessica Weare, vice president of corporate responsibility at SVCF, upon presenting the Nonprofit Champion Award to Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County at the November 2020 SVBJ Corporate Philanthropy Awards “And that is the perfect context for Catholic Charities, because when the stakes are high, when the work matters most, when poverty seems absolutely insurmountable, Catholic Charities is there for families and individuals in need, helping people of all cultures and beliefs find a way forward.”
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County is the social service and social justice ministry of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of San Jose. Although affiliated with the Diocese, the group is a self-funded, separately incorporated nonprofit agency that serves more than 40,000 people annually. It is part of the Catholic Charities USA network, which serves more than seven million people each year.
Catholic Charities’ work is focused on three areas: alleviating the conditions of chronic poverty by offering food, housing assistance, mental health services and other services; reducing the effects of poverty by providing jobs, immigration legal services, financial literacy and other services; and preventing the cycle of generational poverty through support of early childhood development, parenting support, and youth empowerment programs.
In addition to COVID-19 relief, some of Catholic Charities’ other 2020 efforts included outreach to encourage people to answer the census, as well as voter engagement and volunteer empowerment.
Gregory Kepferle, CEO of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, wrote a blog post about the agency’s COVID-19 relief work, asking how it is possible to find hope amid the turmoil, grief and fear brought on by the pandemic and the current economic and social crises. One way to make it through, he wrote, is to take action.
“When we act with generosity and kindness, with justice and compassion, giving our energy and resources to our community in solidarity with others, these actions create their own virtuous cycle and we find ourselves in ‘flow,” wrote Kepferle.
SVCF is proud to support the work of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. Would you like to learn more about the impact of our COVID-19 Nonprofit Emergency Fund? Read more stories from our grantees here.