This spring, the organization celebrated 110 years of sustaining its mission: to serve those in need, to advocate for compassion and justice in the structures of society, and to call others of good will to do the same.
The charity began on St. Patrick’s Day of 1910, when a group of ladies approached Bishop Edward Dunne on the steps of St. Patrick Cathedral and requested permission to begin an “act of mercy.” In those early years, the women sold their handmade crafts at the State Fair of Texas, and then used those proceeds to give $1 or $2 to those who came to the church office requesting assistance.
That business model worked a century ago, but it has changed with the times. Michael Grace, the president of CCFW, noted that the organization has gone through many life cycles during its existence, responding to the needs of the community during each particular era.
For example, during the Great Depression, volunteers stepped forward and opened St. Teresa’s Home to provide shelter and education to an increasing number of homeless children.
Following the Vietnam War, CCFW began refugee services programs to help the great numbers of families fleeing Southeast Asia to seek safety in the U.S.
Today, according to Grace, the nonprofit has pivoted to be more proactive in its focus, seeking what can be done to solve the problem of poverty, and not just reacting to the symptoms of poverty.