Homily – November 27th, 2011
Noel Saunders, President of Esterman Conference of
St. Vincent de Paul at St. Cecilia Parish November 26/27, 2011 Catholic Community Services Appeal
Thank you Father for this chance to speak about a subject that is very near to my heart.
As Father said, I am the current president of the Esterman Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul here at St. Cecilia. We fifteen Vincentians join with a world-wide organization that promotes spiritual growth, and friendship, through assistance to others. Today I will speak briefly about the work of Catholic Community Services and Catholic Home Services of Western Washington. First though I will take this chance to Thank You for your support of the Esterman conference. Your prayers, contributions, and participation in parish projects are invaluable. This past week we were able to pay an electric utility bill for a gentleman who had received a shutoff notice, and were asked if we could provide assistance with rent for someone who has received an eviction notice. Because of you we were able to say yes. The Helpline House Food Bank is always happy to see your donations of the non-perishable food delivered weekly, and your neighbors will be delighted with the results of the Parish Christmas Giving Tree that we will set up next weekend.
There are many ministries that meet the short term needs of those whose lives are difficult. Members of our parish are working now to provide the Matt Talbot Christmas dinner which will occur in two weeks. This past week our Bainbridge community worked with the Helpline House Project Wishbone to provide 200 beautiful Thanksgiving dinners and I understand that the Bainbridge High School Key Club organized a food collection that resulted in 10,000 pounds of food for the Helpline House food bank.
What we are called to do today, however, is to consider what we can do for an organization that provides long term assistance. Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington provide care for more than 81,000 people each year – an average of 200 people every day. This includes shelters for individuals –and families with children –, meals, mental health care, and home care services. The numbers for last year are staggering:
- 233,000 shelter nights
- 1.4 million meals
1.8 million hours of home care Each day more of our neighbors here in Western Washington knock on the doors of CCS and ask for help.
Catholic Community Services is the official social services arm of our Catholic Church and is in its 93rd year of operation. It acts on our behalf and uses our donations wisely. CCS and Catholic Home Services of Western Washington have a combined budget of over $126 million and fund more than 150 programs, services, and shelters. The funds come from today’s second collection, the Annual Catholic Appeal, foundations and corporations, federal, state and local partnerships, and individual donors. Nine-two cents of each dollar received goes directly to provide service to people in crisis.
Some examples of how that $126 million used are the 7 King County Homeless Programs, including the Matt Talbot Center; 7 Overnight Shelters, a Youth Day Center in the University District, and 5 Transitional Housing Centers. http://www.ccsww.org/site/PageServer?pagename=homepage
To bring the work closer to home – here in Kitsap County, CCS sponsors Benedict House. Named for St. Benedict Labre, patron saint of homeless persons, it is located in Bremerton. At the Benedict House there is an innovative program for single homeless men, and homeless men with children. It is the only facility for homeless men, in Kitsap County. http://www.ccsww.org/site/PageServer?pagename=housing_benedicthouse
A recent article in the Kitsap Sun newspaper spoke about the many efforts to help the estimated 1800 homeless in Kitsap County and mentioned that the only permanent shelters in the Bremerton area are the Women’s shelter run by the St. Vincent de Paul conference of Star of the Sea parish and the Benedict House. Think about that. While these two shelters can help only a small portion of the homeless in Kitsap, without them there would be no permanent shelter in the county. http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2011/nov/18/second-sallys-camp-tentcity-could-open-in/
What can we do to help? We can volunteer – did you know CCS sponsors a Child Care Center at St. Olaf’s in Poulsbo? Maybe you would like to read one-onone to children. Some of us can volunteer to CCS to be a foster grandparent, or perform volunteer chore services within Kitsap County. Last week’s bulletin included this 4 page flyer that describes the volunteer opportunities, and the many programs of the Kitsap Family Center serving Kitsap, Clallam and Jefferson Counties. http://www.ccsww.org/site/PageServer?pagename=fc_kitsap
And, many of us can make a donation of cash, stock, real estate, vehicles. On the end of the pews are envelops that look like this; you also will find a CCS donation envelop as a part of your December envelops. If you are ready to make your donation today, you can do so during the second collection. The envelope in the pew can also be mailed – or returned to the parish during the next weeks. If it is available to you, please arrange for a matching gift from your employer.
CCS cannot address all the needs at the local parish level. This parish will receive 25% of our CCS donations to fund social outreach programs such as the work of the Esterman Conference. We will use any funds we receive to assist your island neighbors with rent, utility bills, medical needs, or to purchase food.
Thank you for the chance to talk to you today. I will close by quoting the CCS Vision statement.
“CCS and CHS of Western Washington are prophetic voices for justice,
recognizing the sacredness and dignity of every human person.
Rooted in the Gospel message of hope, we will continue to be leaders, advocates, providers and partners serving poor and vulnerable people.”
Noel Saunders, St. Cecilia Parish, Bainbridge Island, WA November 27, 2011