At times when the Klock family needed help most, Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes in Geneva responded.
“The first time I heard of Catholic Charities, I had just gotten evicted out of my home,” said Yahaira Klock. “I was four months pregnant with my daughter and I had two young kids with me.”
Klock said during that instance, Catholic Charities staff offered emergency assistance with rent money as well as advice and support.
A stay-at-home mom who has provided at-home child care for several other children, Klock said that occasionally her family sought help from Catholic Charities for their utility bills. Now she and her husband are enrolled as full-time students to get associates degrees so they can get jobs with more financial stability.
Funds raised through the Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal recently helped them with that goal. Less than $50 from the annual fundraiser helped the couple to purchase school supplies. Additionally, Catholic Charities connected the Klock family with donors who helped to provide Christmas gifts for the family this year.
This aid was especially needed since Yahaira’s husband, Shawn, was laid off in August and will undergo back surgery in January.
“Catholic Charities works wonders,” Yahaira Klock remarked.
Ellen Wayne, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, said that although the Klocks had worked with the agency in the past, more and more new families are seeking help due to the difficult economy.
“What we are seeing is an abundance of families who have never utilized our programs or services or any of the human services before,” Wayne said. “They are unaware of what’s out there.”
She cited the example of a family of seven new to Catholic Charities who recently received $200 in emergency funds from the Christmas Appeal to end eviction proceedings. The husband and wife in the family had both been laid off and were waiting to receive unemployment.
In addition to emergency rent assistance, Catholic Charities’ Christmas program provided the family with gifts and a holiday meal. Additionally, Catholic Charities staff connected them with the Home Energy Assistance Program, which helped them to handle their utility bills.
“There’s an awful lot of news stories in the media with the awareness that our economic challenges are widespread and far-reaching, but that’s so little consolation for our families,” Wayne said.
She said her agency is helping more families with medical issues, such as three families who received Christmas Appeal funds for prescription medicines. None of the families had health insurance. In one instance, Christmas Appeal funds were used to help a patient diagnosed with diabetes purchase a monitor and test strips.
In another instance, a mother who did not work sought help from Catholic Charities to enter a certified nursing assistant training program. Wayne said Christmas Appeal funding helped the woman buy clothing for herself and her two small children to meet their basic needs.
The agency partners with families to help find solutions to their crises, Wayne said.
“You can’t imagine the dignity we see in people’s faces,” she said.