October 28, 2011

Christ Our Hope campaign

Christ Our Hope appeal gives hope to those in need

People in need receive food at Deli Days, a food pantry operated by Catholic Charities Terre Haute at its Bethany House Soup Kitchen in Terre Haute. Contributions to the “Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” annual appeal support Catholic Charities ministries across central and southern Indiana. (Submitted photo)

People in need receive food at Deli Days, a food pantry operated by Catholic Charities Terre Haute at its Bethany House Soup Kitchen in Terre Haute. Contributions to the “Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” annual appeal support Catholic Charities ministries across central and southern Indiana. (Submitted photo)

By Sean Gallagher

The staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities Terre Haute minister in a variety of ways to people in need in a seven-county area around the western Indiana city in which it is based.

From offering a place to stay at Bethany House, its emergency homeless shelter, to providing food to 32,000 people through its food bank, to helping families in need give holiday gifts to children through its Christmas store, Catholic Charities Terre Haute takes many approaches to help people living in poverty in that region to achieve self-sufficiency.

And the people carrying out that ministry are in the right place. Nearly 21 percent of the residents of Vigo County, the most populous county in the region, live in poverty. The country has the second highest poverty rate in Indiana.

“We hear stories from people of being hungry and needing food because they don’t have any food left in their pantry or those who need a place to stay and were literally living on the street last night,” said Jennifer Buell, director of development for Catholic Charities Terre Haute. “It’s a humbling experience and a very eye-opening experience to see how many people who are out there in need.”

Because she knows how many people are served by her agency and the many needs those people have, Buell appreciates the support that Catholic Charities Terre Haute receives from Catholics across central and southern Indiana through their participation in the archdiocese’s “Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community” annual appeal.

“It’s very meaningful, and not just for me,” Buell said. “It’s meaningful for all those individuals that we help. It’s overwhelming to see the donors that we have, and where they come from and their generosity.”

The support given to the Church through Christ Our Hope also helps Buell and the employees and volunteers of Catholic Charities agencies based in Bloomington, Indianapolis, New Albany, Tell City and Terre Haute provide support to anyone who comes to them.

“What’s nice about Catholic Charities is that we do our best as employees and the volunteers who are here to help everybody who comes through our doors without regard to what their background is in terms of their religion,” Buell said. “Our policy really is that if you need help, we’ll do what we can to help you.”

One of the ways that Catholic Charities helps people across the archdiocese is less well known than the services given at soup kitchens or homeless shelters.

It happens through mental health counseling provided by counselors through Catholic Charities agencies in Bloomington, Indianapolis and New Albany.

David Bethuram, agency director for Catholic Charities Indianapolis, has provided counseling for almost 30 years. He said that many people who come to Catholic Charities for help are struggling with difficult transitions in life often related to job loss, divorce or the death of loved ones.

“For Catholic Charities to be there to help them through that particular journey is very, very important,” Bethuram said. “From a professional point of view as mental health providers, we’re able to help them with their emotional and psychological needs.”

In 2010, more than 3,600 people received mental health services through Catholic Charities across the archdiocese. That was a 16 percent increase from 2009.

That increase was even higher for Catholic Charities Bloomington, according to its agency director, Marsha McCarty.

She has worked as a psychologist in Bloomington since 1978, but came to Catholic Charities in 2005 because “of the population they serve.

“There’s a great need in any community now for mental health services to reach people [in need],” McCarty said. “Catholic Charities was reaching that population. And that’s something that’s not easy to do if you’re in private practice. It was a chance to work with an agency that was trying to reduce barriers to mental health services.”

McCarty said these barriers have grown since she began her work as a psychologist more than 30 years ago. So to be able to help overcome them at Catholic Charities is a joy for her.

“I love my job,” McCarty said. “It’s very gratifying to be able to get services to people who might not otherwise receive them.

“And we do that not only by using a sliding fee scale, but also by going out into the community. We do work with children in Head Start. We’ve done parenting programs at the domestic violence shelters.”

McCarty and her co-workers at Catholic Charities Bloomington and across the archdiocese are able to assist people in need with mental health services because of the support given through Christ Our Hope.

“I feel grateful,” McCarty said. “It’s wonderful. It’s so needed. It’s so hard for [so many] people to access adequate care.”

(For “Stories of Hope” and more information about “Christ Our Hope: Compassion in Community,” log on to www.archindy.org/ChristOurHope.)

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