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(Editor’s note: “Spreading Hope In Neighborhoods Everywhere” (SHINE) is a social ministry renewal that will be launched on Oct. 1, 2009, by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The following is part of a series that highlights how the ministry of charity is taking place in parishes, schools, agencies and other institutions throughout the archdiocese. Catholic Charities is leading the planning. To learn more about SHINE and how you and your parish can become involved, log on to the Web site www.SpreadingHopeEverywhere.com.)
TELL CITY—When people think of Catholic Charities, they often picture feeding the hungry, clothing the needy and helping the least among us.
But there is a new segment of people who are hurting and being helped by Catholic Charities Tell City—the unemployed.
As a result of the recent economic downturn, Americans have seen the ranks of unemployed people grow during the past several months. These people are encouraged to file unemployment benefits by computer.
In rural areas, there is no office to go to for help, and the nearest places that offer assistance are more than an hour away. Many people do not have access to a computer, and many do not know how to use one.
Catholic Charities Tell City and the Tell City-Perry County Public Library have teamed up to help those people in need during the economic crisis.
Every Monday morning, the library opens their conference room and supplies laptop computers for people to use to file unemployment claims. Catholic Charities Tell City supplies the volunteers, who are housed in a separate conference room from the regular computer lab.
These volunteers are trained online through materials furnished by the Division of Workforce Development (DWD) in Indianapolis. While there are instances when individuals must still contact the DWD via telephone, most people are helped on site and able to file their weekly claims.
Linda Hubert of St. Augustine Parish in Leopold, in the Tell City Deanery, was the first person to volunteer, and has spent time there every Monday assisting people that need help filing their claims.
“I feel it is important to have a place for people to come by and get assistance with their claims,” she said.
Hubert also noted that some people who don’t have access to computers or assistance may not even file because they don’t know where to turn for help.
Rita Dale started going to the library to file her unemployment claims. She spent time studying the system, and got very knowledgeable about it. When asked if she would like to volunteer, Dale readily agreed and now faithfully shows up every week to assist others.
Dale enjoys helping people.
“I like the fact that anyone can come here and get help, regardless of computer ability or if they have a library card.”
Another volunteer is Laura Taylor, a member of St. Mark Parish in Perry County, in the Tell City Deanery, who is always looking for ways to assist others.
“The unemployment help program makes me feel helpful and needed. By volunteering, it is a way I can give back to God by helping others,” Taylor said. “I hope I have made a difference in someone’s life by making computer filing for unemployment less confusing and less stressful.”
Catholic Charities Tell City agency director Joan Hess started the program after hearing many people say they needed assistance and had no computer access.
“A special thank you goes to the Tell City-Perry County Public Library for their support and use of their conference room and laptop computers,” Hess said. “By working together, we are able to help so many more people than either of us could accomplish separately.
“Most ministries within the realm of Catholic Charities require donations of money or materials. This program requires the treasure of time, which is sometimes harder to give than money,” Hess said. “But it emphasizes the threefold time, talent and treasure aspects of stewardship in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Members of this ministry hope to continue assisting people as long as there is a need. More volunteers would enable the group to increase the hours of service at the library.
(People who want to volunteer or who need more information may call Joan Hess, Catholic Charities Tell City agency director, at 812-547-0903 or e-mail her at email@example.com.) †