EDITOR’S NOTE: The names of some people in this story were withheld in order to protect their privacy.
As a Livingston County family recently learned, you never know when you might need help from others.
A husband, who has a prominent position working for the county, and his wife, who also works full time, recently found themselves on hard times when the wife was suddenly injured and was out of work for a lengthy period of time.
“They did not know what to do,” Tabitha Brewster, executive director at Catholic Charities of Livingston County, said about the family’s situation. “It was tough for them to walk through our door. This was a family that would refer people to our services.”
With the wife out of work, the family was unable to pay its bills and was without electricity for a week, Brewster said.
“It was difficult for them. They never experienced this before,” she added.
Using funds from the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas appeal, the agency helped the family with its utility bills while the wife was out of work. Brewster said the wife has since recovered and is now working again.
“We were blessed to be able to help them,” Brewster remarked.
This is just one of the many stories of people who have been helped by proceeds from the annual appeal, which raises money for the emergency funds of various Catholic Charities offices, including Catholic Charities of Livingston County.
The appeal funds the Livingston County agency receives go directly to its Help*Works Community Resource program. Brewster said the program offers emergency financial assistance with food, utilities, rent, gasoline, and medical and job-related needs. Most of the people served by the program, she noted, have never needed assistance before.
“We serve 3,000 people per year, depending on the need,” she added.
Help*Works Community Resource program has been helping Livingston County residents since 1992, which is the same year Catholic Charities of Livingston County was founded. Referrals to Help*Works come from the county Department of Social Services, Department of Health and the Office of Mental Health, as well as a number of community agencies and organizations, including area churches.
Community organizations and churches also help Catholic Charities of Livingston County by donating toys and other gifts for the agency’s annual Christmas Program. This year, Brewster said Catholic Charities of Livingston County provided more than 350 people with food and gifts for the holidays.
In addition to helping people with basic necessities, Catholic Charities of Livingston County also helps clients obtain and keep employment. The Employment Program, which is a partnership with Livingston County Workforce Development and the Livingston County Department of Social Services, provides individuals with job search help, GED classes, job readiness training and work experience placements. Brewster said caseworkers work with each individual and determines what their needs and challenges are in terms of securing and maintaining a job. The caseworkers will help program participants obtain their GEDs or seek out trade school or higher-education opportunities. Brewster said the agency helped 150 people obtain and keep employment for the year.
With all their programs and services, Catholic Charities of Livingston County depends on volunteers to make its programs successful, but the agency also depend on the funds it receives from the Christmas Appeal. This year’s funding will continue to help families and individuals through the Help*Works Community Resource Program, Brewster noted.
“We count on every single penny,” she said in talking about the importance of the appeal. “We would have difficulty helping others without it.”