Diocese of Lake Charles
With the spirit of generosity they are known for, Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana is looking forward to broadening their assistance in 2022 to the communities they currently serve in the Diocese of Lake Charles.
“Our New Year’s resolution is to raise awareness that Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana serves the entire five-parish region including the parishes of Allen, Beauregard, Cameron, and Jeff Davis, in addition to Calcasieu Parish,” said Sister Miriam, R.S.M., Executive Director of Catholic Charities of SWLA.
January is Poverty Awareness Month, the perfect time to share the mission of Catholic Charities and shine a spotlight on the needs of many in neighboring parishes.
In 2021, Catholic Charities distributed $485,000 of assistance with things like rent, utilities, and home repairs. However, Sister Miriam’s goal is to make sure people outside of Calcasieu Parish know that assistance is available for them as well.
“Our mission of being Christ’s presence in this area is something we take seriously,” Sister Miriam said. “We want people to have hope and to know that we are sign of Christ’s love for them.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic still affects people’s need for rental and utilities assistance, Sister Miriam said that she continues to see an increase in help for home repairs due to multiple natural disasters that hit the area in 2020 and 2021.
“For anyone needing home repairs, Catholic Charities works closely with United Way,” she said. “People can call 211 and United Way will put us in touch with those needing support. We can also assist with ID cards, birth certificates, funeral expenses, medical transportation, and other services.”
In an ongoing effort to fight hunger, the monthly food distribution sites offered by Catholic Charities allow individuals and families to receive either donated food or USDA food provided by Second Harvest.
“We give out about 1,100 bags of food per month, which are packed by volunteers that we rely on greatly” Sister Miriam noted. “We are also in need of volunteers to help coordinate at the extra food distribution sites in Big Lake, Creole, DeRidder, Elton, Jennings, Kinder, Ragley, and Vinton each month.”
In 2021, Catholic Charities of SWLA distributed approximately 650,000 pounds of food across the five-parish region. Nearly half of that was donated from people either dropping off at the Catholic Charities warehouse or ordering food through the Amazon website.
A total of 1,679 households (3,727 individuals) were served with food in 2021 from Catholic Charities, according to figures provided by Sister Miriam:
- Allen Parish: 130 households, 318 individuals
- Beauregard Parish: 198 households, 406 individuals
- Calcasieu Parish: 914 households, 2,040 individuals
- Cameron Parish: 122 households, 242 individuals
- Jeff Davis Parish: 315 households, 721 individuals
Despite not being able to host the annual Jazz Brunch fundraiser the past two years, Sister Miriam said she is “continually humbled by the little checks and bigger checks that come in from the faithful who know about the work that is being done and trust that giving to Catholic Charities will bring benefits to the poor.”
Major donors who contributed in 2021 include:
- Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word — $50,000
- Chevron — $50,000
- Cheniere Foundation — $36,000
- The Westerman Foundation — $35,000
- Enterprise Holdings Foundation — $15,000
- Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana — $10,000
- Stine’s — $10,000
- CenterPoint Energy Foundation — $10,000
- Calcasieu Mechanical Contractors — $7,500
- Southside Machine Works — $5,000
“The Catholic Church has an obligation to the poor and being a sign of the Lord’s care, love, and mercy for his people,” Sister said. “It is our job to help others to realize the dignity of the poor in our midst.”
For more information on assistance, call Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana at 337-439-7436 beginning on Monday, January 3, or visit www.catholiccharitiesswla.com.