Over the past 12 months, the Herald has given Catholic Charities an opportunity to summarize our work, achievements, and memories from the past 50 years. In our final 50th Anniversary article, we want to share a glimpse of our vision for the future by highlighting a few of our developing initiatives:
• Increased Focus on Health and Wellness
Physical and behavioral health issues impact the vast majority of those we serve. Through partnerships with Penrose-St. Francis and AspenPointe, Catholic Charities is currently providing access to critical services but in a limited capacity. In the years to come, we will explore ways to expand access, bringing more direct services on-site for longer hours of operation. By expanding the footprint of these services and focusing on primary care, behavioral health and possibly rehabilitation services, we will remove one of the major barriers to resiliency and stability faced by those we serve.
• Food as Health, Wealth and Jobs
At the Marian House Soup Kitchen, Catholic Charities will continue to focus on the nutritional value of our meals, reflecting current research on the importance of diet and relating it to overall mental and physical health. In addition to making it healthier, we will also look at ways food can be leveraged to build stability for our clients. The Marian House Soup Kitchen is a state- of-the-art commercial kitchen and dining facility and has the potential to be a learning space for job skills. Social enterprise models around food preparation and service will provide new and exciting opportunities to put people into meaningful jobs that help build financial capital and provide a living wage.
• Ending Family Homelessness
Family homelessness continues to be a hidden problem in our community. It is also an issue that Catholic Charities cannot take on alone. By helping to build and support the first multiagency collaborative committed to addressing the systems that perpetuate family homelessness, Catholic Charities will leverage its growing expertise and leadership around the issue to bring community wide change for children and parents.
• Serving the Unique Needs in Douglas County
Catholic Charities’ work in Douglas County will continue to focus on providing emergency services coupled with in-depth case management. Needs for services, however, will continue to change and will force new thinking around our model of service. Remaining open to programs and partnerships will be key as the agency continues to meet the critical needs of Douglas and neighboring Elbert and Park counties.
With over 75 programs and services, delivered by more than 65 staff members from four facilities, we have certainly come a long way from our humble beginnings in 1968 in a small office with a staff of two people. Along the way, we, together with countless volunteers and donors, have had the privilege to serve thousands of families and individuals and make a difference in their lives.
Our services and collaborations have changed along the way to meet community needs, but our Catholic foundation, along with our faith, has remained unshakable. We are called to serve the least among us, and we do so with love and gratitude.
Thank you for walking with us on our journey and encouraging us to always be better. Together, we can continue to help the least among us achieve success, for the next 50 years.
(Andy Barton is President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado.)