Hammond, LA (April 25, 2012) -- In 2011, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge returned wages, goods and services valued at almost $675,000 to the people of Tangipahoa, according to a recent report released by the agency. 
 
“Every dollar dedicated by the agency to Tangipahoa resulted in $3 of benefit to residents of our parish,” said Stephanie Schulte, CCDBR Tangipahoa Advisory Committee Chair. “That’s an amazing return on investment!”   $223,000 spent delivered benefits in areas such as:
$242,000 of wages
$50,000 of savings in mental health services
$276,000 VISTA generated volunteer hours and services.
 
“We conservatively estimate 356 Tangipahoa residents received direct services from our agency plus countless others when you consider the donations and volunteer hours returned to the community in 2011,” said Schulte.
 
David Aguillard, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, added that although the agency’s services in Tangipahoa are changing as recovery from the hurricanes of 2005 and 2008 has been completed, Catholic Charities remains committed to serving Tangipahoa residents.  “We look forward to reshaping our services to meet the evolving needs of the parish,” he said.
 
In 2011, Catholic Charities’ licensed clinical social workers saw 130 people for 729 one-hour counseling sessions in the agency’s Behavioral Health Satellite office at St. Albert’s Catholic Student Activity Center. 
 
Schulte said that $242,000 in wages were earned by seniors participating in on-the-job training and others helped to find jobs.   “Programs like these really do help address the root causes of poverty and are much more than a band-aid approach to helping people recovery from crisis,” Schulte added. 
 
“Because of our sliding fee scale, people can receive the counseling they need at a lower rate than traditional counseling offices,” said Schulte. The agency estimates a costs savings of $50,000 over the course of a year because of the lower fee structure.
 
Since Katrina, CCDBR has provided the general oversight for the VISTA program in Tangipahoa, a federally-funded program which places skilled workers in nonprofits and with the City of Hammond. Last year alone, the VISTA workers in Tangipahoa recruited 708 volunteers who served almost 1,500 hours valued over $30,000. Additionally the workers brought in $14,200 in cash donations and $232,000 in donated goods. 
 
Thanks to the generosity of donors mostly from outside of the parish, 95 children received Christmas gifts and new school shoes, with a value estimated at $6,500. 
 “Christmas and the start of a new school year presents a financial burden on families who struggle every day to keep good on the table.” added Schulte. “Programs like these help them stretch their hard earned dollars even further.”
 
The report also cites the agency’s continued work to help families recover from disaster. After Hurricane Katrina, Catholic Charities became the leading disaster case management agency. In 2011, five Tangipahoa families with homes damaged by Hurricane Gustav were helped to recover.
 
“Even though Hurricane Gustav hit in 2008,” said Schulte, “families are still struggling to become whole. Catholic Charities is there for the tough work of helping them rebuild their lives.”
 
Last year, the agency chose to consolidate its Tangipahoa operations at the St. Albert’s Catholic Student Activity Center on the SLU campus.
 
“We were fortunate to have the funding to ramp up services in Tangipahoa following Hurricane Katrina,” said Andre Coudrain, who sits on both the CCDBR Board and the Tangipahoa Advisory Committee, “but six years later, the money just isn’t there to sustain them. And we knew that going in.”
 
Hardest hit by the budget crunch was the agency’s case management program to prevent homelessness. 
 
Despite the cutbacks, CCDBR still prevented homelessness for 10 families, distributing almost $5,000 in financial assistance for rent, utilities and other basic needs. 
 
“Ten families might not sound like a lot,” Coudrain remarked, “but ask one of those families what a difference those donations made in their lives and you’ll find the impact is priceless.”
 
Coudrain also noted that the financial assistance dollars were all donated by Tangipahoa residents and fundraisers. 
 
“Funds donated by Tangipahoa stay in Tangipahoa to help your neighbors,” he added.
 
On the financial side, the report shows 11% originated within the parish from donations and counseling fees. The remaining 89% of CCDBR’s $223,000 Tangipahoa operations budget are funded by subsidies from the agency’s general fund and senior employment grant. 
 
To find out more about the services available in Tangipahoa, call 985-542-5455 or visit www.CatholicCharitiesBR.org.
 
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Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge services are provided regardless of religion in a 12 parish region. For over 45 years, CCDBR has been providing life-sustaining services like adoptions, senior employment, prison ministry, migration & refugee services, just to name a few.  Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, CCDBR has become the largest social service provider in the area and is the number one referred to agency by the 211-info line.  CCDBR is a member of Capital Area United Way and Catholic Charities USA. To learn more about Catholic Charities visit their website www.CatholicCharitiesBR.org, or call 225-336-8700.

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