Lessons from faith-based organizations that help Americans get jobs
Our CEO, Heather Reynolds, spoke at the American Enterprise Institute about the role of faith-based organizations in helping Americans get jobs and move up the economic ladder.
Here is an excerpt from Heather’s speech:
I ask that you put yourself in the moment when you last had to fill out a form and provide your emergency contact. When was it? Hospital visit? Child’s school form? And, did you really pause to think about who you would put, or was it an easy decision like your spouse, parent, or good friend? A few months ago, I attended a funeral service. It was for 6 people with 6 different stories. There was a crowd of mourners. There were flowers. There were pictures. And, there was a camping tent set up in the front. One of those pictures was of a man everyone referred to as Pops. A man who lived in a tent in Sylvania Park for 5 years. Everyone who knew Pops loved his energy. They loved his jokes. He was the kind of neighbor everyone wanted—kept an eye out for others, welcomed the new ones—even if his “neighbors” lived on the street, like him. 2 years of getting Pops to trust us. Regular visits to the tent he called home. A man who’s only refuge from life was a vodka bottle. A man who caught the hope-filled energy of Catholic Charities staff, and started to think life could be different. 1 We moved him into an apartment. We took him to treatment. We supported him in the coming months. But, this story didn’t end well. Pops? Well, one day Pops was found by apartment maintenance, dead in his home. And, who was called? His emergency contact. His Catholic Charities case manager. There is something deeply sad that our case manager was his emergency contact. And, there is a lot to be said about how CCFW serves people by who Pops scribbled down on his housing application when he made his emergency contact decision. We sat at our funeral service for 6 of our homeless clients who died this year—some had died violent deaths. One woman, well, her body just gave out from living a hard life on the streets. One died at home, in his camp near our Downtown Fort Worth. Two were found by our staff. None were mourned, none celebrated, until our team pulled together a funeral to honor the lives of these 6 individuals. The simplest of services—a vase of 6 roses, a camping tent to symbolize these clients, and a crowd full of Catholic Charities staff who sat in solidarity, crying softly, and holding steadfast to the belief that these lives deserved not to be forgotten. How do we serve at Catholic Charities? With undeniable compassion. Whether it achieves the level of success we wish it would or not. And, why do we serve? It is our moral obligation. We are Catholic. And while people who know the Catholic Church understand clearly that we are a pro-life church, it is so much more than just an anti-abortion church. It is a church that believes in the dignity of every person we encounter and 2 supports life throughout its many stages. We believe that people deserve more than getting lost in a broken system. One where they make too much to qualify for any sort of help. One that only puts a band-aid on their problems, then criticizes them for coming back through the doors. We believe in the common good–that our community will only be as great as the weakest member. We believe in utterly destroying poverty. We believe that poverty is the enemy—it destroys dignity, destroys families, and destroys life. It is our job to fight back. We want poverty to end. And, we hold tightly to the belief that it can.
Learn more about the event and see a video here.
Read Heather’s speech in its entirety here.