Hundreds of parishioners are calling out for help, and Catholic Charities has been there to answer them.
Expectant mothers, the homeless, children and adults with severe developmental delays, the mentally ill, the poverty-stricken and the unemployed in St. Charles have all been given a hand in the past year by this non-profit group.
With 13 programs in St. Charles, the organization helped nearly 1,000 people locally in 2011 to eat, get prenatal care and grieve the loss of loved ones.
Now the organization needs help to keep these programs going.
Margaret Dubuisson, director of communications for the organization, said that people are more in need than ever and are reaching out for a helping hand.
"Individuals who in the past have helped Catholic Charities are now in need of help themselves," Dubuisson said.
A second collection will be taken up in local Catholic churches on the weekend of Feb. 11-12 to raise undesignated funds for the group.
The Catholic Charities programs offered in St. Charles include Food for Families, Access for expecting mothers, School-Based Counseling, Counseling Solutions for the community and the Deaf Action Center.
The Food for Families program provides 35- to 40-pound boxes of food monthly to low-income seniors and mothers of young children through the parish. Last year, Catholic Charities helped about 400 parishioners through this program.
They helped 20 St. Charles mothers choose life by offering testing, counseling and ultrasounds through the Access program.
More than 150 parish youth and educators were helped through the School-Based Counseling program and about 340 were helped through the community counseling program.
In the wake of several tragedies at parish schools in the past few years, counseling has been a major part of grieving faculty and student losses.
In 2011, Fenisha Charles, a 7th grade science teacher at R.K. Smith died in an apparent murder-suicide that shocked the school community. Her death came after the passing in 2009 of a beloved school principal, Nicole LeBeauf, who died of cancer. In 2010, Hahnville High also experienced severe losses when 17-year-old basketball player De’Vante Alexander collapsed and died of a heart defect and sophomore football player Matt Scaruffi died of a gunshot wound.
Eighteen additional parishioners were helped through the Deaf Action Center, which provides interpreting services and telephone and hearing aid equipment to the deaf, blind and hard of hearing.
The collection next weekend is aimed at raising money for unforeseen disasters that could hit the area.
"It is undesignated money that helps us be flexible and able to respond to any kind of emergency, whether it’s a hurricane, oil spill, evacuation…to really be able to move quickly when there is an emergency and help people," Dubuisson said. "We ask that people prayerfully consider a donation that weekend."
For those who do not wish to give during the collection, Dubuisson said the organization can accept secure donations online at www.ccano.org and that they are also in need of prayer.
"We always are in need of funds to run these programs…primarily we rely on our donors who have always been so generous in helping us to make ends meet and keep things going," she said. "We also welcome the support of the community through prayer – prayer is an incredibly important component.
"If you can’t donate, remember us in prayer. That’s a valuable resource that we always appreciate."