Author: Lisa Aquino
Published September 3 by the Catholic Anchor

At Catholic Social Services we want to focus on lasting and permanent stability. We offer an array of services including fulfilling several basic needs for people in our community – like shelter and food. All our programs though are tied together by our impact on the community – that we transition adults and families to permanent stability.

It is critical to call that out. Every day because of the support of you in our community, we are saving the lives of Alaskans. We are assuring safe, warm shelter for adults and families, and we are distributing food to households who are barely making it through the month and who do not have the extra income for food. Volunteers in the community are feeding families and adults in our shelters dinner every night. We are saving lives. We do more than that though, and it is that lasting impact that I want to point you towards today.

I think we all know the adage, “give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for a lifetime”. We are committed to assuring that those in dire need receive basic services, like shelter and food, but we are also committed to the second part of the adage, to teaching a man to fish. Through so many of our programs and services we are building on the resilience and strengths of our clients to support them in finding lasting self-sufficiency and stability. We do this in so many of our programs, like our Refugee Resettlement service, where nearly 90% of our employable clients last year were employed and connected with the community. We do this in our Family Disability Services where more than 50% of our consumers on the Medicaid waiver used services that focus on learning new skills, strengthening themselves and their families. We do this in Homeless Family services, where more than 325 households (more than 900 individuals) were moved into housing last year. Your support, through donations and time are what make these successes possible.

Success like this takes sustainability, trained staff, and a commitment to excellence. All of these are principles we look to in our work, always guided by compassion and love. As we face another winter, and we know that with the cold weather often comes greater need for basic needs services, we want to remind you of both tiers of services your Catholic Social Services are engaged in here in Anchorage, and how important both are for the health and wellbeing of the people in our community.

I had the amazing opportunity to speak to the Women’s Group at St. Andrew’s parish last month, and I spoke of the St. Francis House Food Pantry, but I also spoke to the many services and programs at Catholic Social Services. They asked me so many good questions and had great ideas for making our services even better. It reminded me that it is only together that we can make a dent in the challenging problems we face. Together we can meet the immediate basic needs for vulnerable people in our community and at the same time bring focus and attention to the ways we can support each other in building lasting and permanent stability.

We wish everyone a blessed Feast of St. Francis this month and ask you to please keep us in your prayers.

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