By RUTH LILJENQUIST
There’s no question. Strong families are absolutely fundamental, not only to the welfare of each member of a family, but to the strength of communities and nations. Many families in our community today are doing well, but there are far too many families facing overwhelming challenges that threaten their very ability to nurture each other and their children.
Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona was founded in 1933 primarily to help families facing tremendous difficulties as a result of the Great Depression. At that time, CCS offered food and clothing. Today, as we as a nation struggle to recover from the Great Recession and families struggle to make ends meet, CCS still provides food and clothing, but also an array of programs and services that support families so that they can do more than survive, but thrive.
Take a look at how we served families during our last fiscal year.
Shelter & Housing Services: In CCS’ four domestic crisis shelters, 693 women and children were safe from family violence. Through our transitional housing program, CCS provided homeless families—55 adults and 77 children—with over 50,000 shelter nights. We also provided housing counseling to 809 families, helping many avoid foreclosure, handle short sales on their homes, negotiate with lenders, and, in some cases, buy a home.
Financial Assistance: CCS provided clothing, food items, and emergency assistance to 3,025 people in need last year, but we also worked with many families to help them secure a more stable future. We provided financial education to 283 families, matched the savings of 42 families, and assisted 4,075 people with their taxes, resulting in $6.9 million in tax refunds and $3.3 million in tax credits being returned to families in our community.
Health Services: St. Elizabeth’s Health Center provides medical and dental care, as well as health education to people without health insurance. Last year, St. E’s provided free or low-cost care through 14,468 medical visits and 4,416 dental visits. In addition, 7,800 women and children received WIC services.
Counseling and Case Management: CCS provided family counseling to 55 families, helping them handle life challenges. Further, CCS provided case management to 120 families, arranging needed services to help them meet their needs and become more self-sufficient.
Education, Childcare, and Youth Activities: CCS provided low-cost, high quality early childhood education and child care for working families, as well as after school and youth development programs for 360 children.
Child Welfare: CCS worked with 255 families to help them overcome problems that can lead to child abuse or neglect and keep their families intact.
Supporting and strengthening families is one of the most important things we do at CCS because how we do as a society all comes down to how well we do as families.
For more information about CCS’ programs and services, visit www.ccs-soaz.org or call 520-623-0344.