By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor

Six Catholic social service agencies located within the Diocese of Trenton providing a range of assistance to people in need have been awarded monetary grants through the 2017 Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

The six organizations are:

-- St. Vincent de Paul Trenton Diocesan Council: $7,200, furniture ministry expansion efforts

-- Catholic Youth Organization of Mercer County: $4,700, tutoring project, after-school program tutoring assistance

-- Mount Carmel Guild, Trenton:  $7,500, emergency assistance program to help prevent utility shut-offs

-- Resurrection Conference, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Delran: $5,000, emergency housing fund and/or emergency utility fund

-- St. Francis Community Center, Brant Beach: $5,000, “Gift of Warmth” project to serve 900 children with at least one gift of warm clothing or bedding

-- Good Counsel Homes-South Jersey, Riverside: $4,414.62, career counseling for single mothers

Brenda Rascher, diocesan executive director for Catholic Social Services, and Father John C. Garrett, diocesan director of CCHD and pastor of Resurrection Parish, Delran, said that for the 2017 CCHD collection, the Diocese raised a total of $123,914.32 out of which $30,978.58 remained in the Diocese for distribution to local Catholic outreach agencies.

When it comes to how funds are distributed, Father Garrett said priority is given to new initiatives started by agencies or parishes that encourage self-sufficiency. The outreach program must have a mission of providing social services with a focus on basic human needs such as food, clothing, shelter and employment. Applications may only be accepted from Catholic agencies that are recognized by the National Catholic Directory and Parish Social Outreach Programs in the Diocese. Grants are not be given to fund salaries, building upgrades, operating deficits, research projects or cost of fundraising.

Aiding the Poor

As examples, Rascher cited two agencies – Mount Carmel Guild and the Mercer County CYO  and how they used their 2017 CCHD grant money.

Last year, Mount Carmel Guild helped a client, “Mr. K.,” who had just lost the business he operated for 30 years. He had a wife and two children, lived in the suburbs of Trenton and was facing foreclosure of his house and termination of his electric service when he contacted the Guild in January 2017.

At the time, Mr. K. anticipated getting a job as a consultant, but it had not started yet. Trying to juggle paying bills and ward off bill collectors, he made a payment arrangement with Public Service Electric and Gas. However, he was not able to keep the agreement. Never having been in the position of getting assistance before, he turned to the Guild for help. The staff first informed him that he was eligible to apply for the Low Income Energy Program, which protected his service from begin shut off until the winter termination program ended in March. After he applied, he was then required to make a payment before making a new arrangement for the balance. He now had an additional six months to pay his full bill as he began to have income from his new employment.

Mount Carmel Guild used $200 of its CCHD funding to make that happen.

Education Support

The CYO had a similar experience of support from the CCHD funds. Since 1976, the CYO’s Broad Street Center, has operated an after-school program for children ages 5-12, Monday-Friday and offers supervised athletic, educational and recreational enrichment activities.

Although homework assistance had been provided, it wasn’t until the 2005-2006 school year when formal tutoring became available. Students who regularly attend tutoring increased their pre-to-post assessments test scores an average of 40 percent.

The $4,700 CCHD funds were directed at the costs associated with the tutoring program.

“I believe the good work being done through the grant recipients speaks volumes and it’s made possible because of the generosity of our parishioners in the CCHD annual collection throughout the Diocese,” Rascher said.