Poverty in Steuben prompts agency's creation - Catholic Courier

Poverty in Steuben prompts agency’s creation

Responding to increasing poverty and unemployment, and growing calls for help, officials of Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier officially established a Steuben County office in Bath in 1997, hiring Chris Wilkins as its director. At that time, Wilkins worked out of an office that was donated by St. Mary Parish, and his early charge was to create the foundation upon which the agency would grow.

On Aug. 3, 1998, Laura M. Opelt became the second director of the Steuben office, replacing Wilkins, who became director of development for Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier. In 2003 the Steuben office officially became a bylawed subsidiary of diocesan Catholic Charities and became known as Catholic Charities of Steuben County. This decision was made possible by the leadership of Anthony Barbaro, who became the associate diocesan director of Catholic Charities in January 2003. Also that year, Linda Stundtner became the Steuben agency’s representative on the diocesan Catholic Charities board.

Today, the agency continues to identify the community’s needs and endeavors to answer the call for help through programs in which:

  • people of all ages, suffering from the pains of substance abuse, find education, information and resources to aid them in their recovery;

  • children of working parents receive support and care from compassionate staff in a safe and affordable setting, where quality child-care service is provided, nutritious meals are served, and such needed services as occupational and other therapies are provided;

  • individuals and families living in poverty improve the quality of their lives by accessing a variety of services that help move them along the continuum of care, from crisis to support to developing self-sufficiencies;

  • young people involved in risk-taking behaviors develop support systems and decision-making skills through the counsel of caring staff members;

  • and parishioners and community members are educated, enriched and motivated to take action about social-justice issues through educational programs, material and supportive services provided by the agency’s Justice and Peace/Parish and Community Services Program.

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