By Richard Meek, The Catholic Commentator, published 10/30/2015
Heartbreaking pictures of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war ravaged Syria continues to touch the public’s conscience daily. Perhaps no image is more horrific than that of a 3-year-old boy who drowned and his body washed up on shore near a Turkish resort.
As the refugee crisis continues to escalate, Corina Salazar looks on with a heightened sense of awareness. As director of Refugee and Immigration Services for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, she fully understands the faces she sees in media reports from across the globe may be the same people she will greet as they step off a plane in Baton Rouge to settle into a new life.
In fact, Salazar said she is surprised her agency has yet to be contacted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops regarding potential acceptance of refugees.
Catholic Charities of Baton Rouge offers these tips for helping after disaster
Baton Rouge—After any disaster, the phones at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (CCDBR) start ringing. The staff at the agency brace for the calls from people wanting to help as news of the destruction unfolds.
“We aren’t surprised that people in Louisiana want to help” said David Aguillard, CCDBR Executive Director. “The people of South Louisiana are traditionally known for being some of the most generous in the country. Since the outpouring of support for the state after Hurricane Katrina, that tradition grew even stronger.”
To help sponsored refugee children seeking protection in the United States, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (CCDBR) has established the Louisiana Esperanza Project and received initial pledges of $310,000 over the next four years.
“The children at our border are some of the most vulnerable children on our continent,” said Winifred Reilly, who with her husband Kevin Reilly, Jr. helped kickoff the project with a challenge grant. “Their parents have the same hopes and dreams as we all have for our own.”
The project follows a statement by the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops issued earlier this month in which the Bishops urged protection of these vulnerable children and respect for their families.
Catholic Charities encourages #End45 photo upload to bring attention to 45 million currently living in poverty in the U.S.
Baton Rouge, LA (September 11, 2015) – Forty-five million people – or 1 in 7 – are living in poverty in the Unites States today. In the Greater Baton Rouge Metropolitan area, it’s 1 in 5. For too many just one misfortune or one missed paycheck changes an individual or family’s life, causing them to fall below the poverty line. Today, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) are launching #End45 – Raise a Hand to End Poverty in America, a national initiative to help shine a spotlight on the issue and the millions of others in need or struggling to make ends meet.
Timed to coincide with Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in late September and to align with his commitment to helping the poor, #End45 – Raise a Hand to End Poverty in America encourages individuals to show support for the cause by taking a picture of their hand with “#End45” written on the palm and posting it to their social media channels using the hashtag #End45. Uploads showcasing hands across America in support of those in need can be viewed at CatholicCharitiesUSA.org/End45.
Baton Rouge, La—On July 28, 2015, Bishop Robert W. Muench officially launched the expansion of a transitional housing program that helps homeless men successfully re-enter their communities after being released from prison. Bishop Robert Muench blessed 8 new apartments at Catholic Charities Joseph Homes, doubling the capacity of the program to now house 15 men. Bishop Muench was joined by Mayor Kip Holden, Councilperson Tara Wicker, and others who contributed to the expansion in a blessing/ribbon cutting ceremony.
The new apartments were funded by the City of Baton Rouge Office of Community Development and The Huey & Angelina Wilson Foundation. Some of the furniture was donated by the LSU Phi Mu Sorority.