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You don't have to run a marathon to help those in need

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... there are a whole host of programs that we operate, and a litany of ways that you can get involved in the work that we do.

Debbie
Rambo

The Boston Marathon, in addition to being the world's oldest annual marathon, has become a symbol of strength, unity, and pride for the Boston community. This year, we were proud to have the opportunity to share in that communal experience by sponsoring four runners on Team Catholic Charities, thanks to our friends at John Hancock. At Catholic Charities, we keep the well-being and benefit of our clients at the forefront of everything we do. We strive to put our mission of building a just and compassionate society rooted in the dignity of all people into action.

Our team ran in support of the at-risk youth we serve throughout Eastern Massachusetts. While each Team Catholic Charities marathoner committed to raising at least $7,500, their efforts have already garnered over $35,000 in donations!

For many of these children and teens, Catholic Charities' programs mean a hot meal for dinner or safety from street violence in their own neighborhoods. To combat these and other struggles that children in our community face, Catholic Charities operates several wonderful programs, including our Sunset Point Camp, which is celebrating its 100th year of operation this spring.

Sunset Point Camp in Hull opens its doors every year as a free respite for children, ages six to 13, living in low-income neighborhoods in Eastern Massachusetts; places where the prospects of enjoying a summer camp experience are often distant. Each summer, 400 youth from these communities attend a week-long session at Sunset Point Camp, where they engage in safe, healthy, and constructive activities, which bridge out-of-school time learning gaps. Campers also get the opportunity to explore outdoor marine environments and build friendships with peers who face many of the same challenges.

But the value of the work that we do here at Catholic Charities does not lie in the strength of any one of our 70 different programs, but rather in our ability to provide a diversified, wrap-around approach to client services. For instance, sometimes the best way to help children in our community is to provide their caregivers with the hand up that they need to regain self-sufficiency.

Recently, a mother of five came to Catholic Charities in Lynn, after a fire had forced them to leave their home. She was looking for any assistance we could provide because her family had lost most of their belongings and all of their furniture in the blaze. We were able to provide her with gift cards to help buy cooking essentials for her kitchen and food to restock it. She was given a furniture referral to Mission of Deeds, where they were able to secure new beds for the young mother and her children, as well as a new living-room set.

This family was extremely thankful for our assistance. We were able to help them rebuild their lives by providing them with the basic necessities that they had lost. Intense budgeting was done to help the mom obtain her "new" stability, as she was having a hard time managing their income due to the sudden severity of her circumstances. Because their home was inaccessible while it was being repaired, she had to pay for alternative housing on top of their regular rent. With the aid and assistance of our Basic Needs Manager, the mother was able to budget her funds and return her life and the lives of her children to normalcy without any further assistance.

While the intrepid members of Team Catholic Charities -- Jenna DelVecchio, Jacques Guyette, Meredith Flaherty, and Caroline Heppner -- braved 26.2 miles of hilly terrain and erratic weather to support our child and youth services, there are a whole host of programs that we operate, and a litany of ways that you can get involved in the work that we do. For more information, or to find out what you can do to join our efforts, visit ccab.org.

- Deborah Kincade Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.



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