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CURRENT ISSUE:  May 9, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Four to be ordained to the priesthood May 14
Diocesan rules guide parishes on money
Sister Prejean comes to Oakland for two speeches
Catholic Charities’ annual
appeal set for May 15

Catholic Charities of the East Bay, which served more than 20,000 individuals and families last year, doesn’t see the demand for its services letting up anytime soon.

Solomon Belette
Its annual appeal is Sunday, May 15. Collections will be taken up in all parishes in the Diocese of Oakland. The May appeal comes near the start the fiscal year for the agency. “It’s a momentum builder for us,” said Solomon Belette, chief executive officer. “If we’re a success with our May appeal, it sets the tone of the year.”

Cuts in state and federal funding make the appeal all the more important this year.

“The cuts from the state will have a devastating impact in the community,” Belette said. “We’re being hit both nationally and by the state and county.”

For its May appeal, Catholic Charities is building on its theme from last year: Give . . . your awareness, your time, your donation. But now, more than ever, give.

“Over the past couple of years, requests for housing have soared 100 percent per year,” said Colleen Miller, chief development officer for Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

These requests are coming from people in danger of losing their homes or apartments, Miller said. Catholic Charities is asked to provide deposits and first-month’s rent, for example.

In addition to helping people in need stabilize their precarious positions, the agency is pleased to be offering what Miller called “a hand up” through workforce training in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

“People really want to take that next step up,” she said. Early childhood education and bilingual medical assistant training are of particular interest to clients.

An important area of Catholic Charities’ work continues to be assisting refugees, particularly those from war-torn countries. “We’re seeing people from Iran, Iraq, various African countries, Bhutan and Tibet,” Miller said.

Catholic Charities helps the refugees to get settled, then helps them find work, and follows up the placement to help workers stay in their jobs

Another area of expansion involves legal immigration services in Contra Costa County. “We want to make sure people can contribute to the tax base,” she said. “People want this.”

Catholic Charities serves families and individuals at its main office in Oakland as well as at family service centers in Brentwood, Concord and Richmond. Services are offered to the elderly; the hungry and the homeless; families and children; immigrants and refugees; the unemployed and underemployed; people with HIV/AIDS, victims of violence; at-risk youth and others in need.

About 55 percent of Catholic Charities’ annual budget comes from individual donations; the remainder comes from foundation grants and federal or state funding. Of each dollar donated, 78 cents is used directly for programs provided by Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

Catholic Charities would also welcome volunteers. Visit www.cceb.org for volunteer opportunities. “It’s a good way to find out what we do, “ Belette said. “If they are involved in our program, it may inspire them to become even more involved.”

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