Local Office Country’s First to Offer Services

Baton Rouge, LA—Catholic Charities USA this week launched a new pilot program in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services aimed at helping victims of disaster quickly access critical services and resources and provide the ongoing support and care they need to recover.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge opened its doors on Monday staffed by a team of 10 skilled case managers, earning the distinction of being the first agency in the country to open such a site. Others on the regional response team are stationed at DRCs throughout the affected region with more local partners expected to sign on.

 “This program is designed to help the most vulnerable rebuild their lives suddenly uprooted by disaster,” said Kim Burgo, senior director of disaster response for Catholic Charities USA. “People may have lost their jobs or their homes severely damaged. They may need crisis counseling, medical care, or help navigating the often daunting maze of federal and state aid paperwork. Whatever their need is, our case managers will help them access resources to address it.”

For some families, their needs may only require short-term help from the case managers. For others, whose needs are more complex, case managers will work with individuals and families in creating and implementing personal recovery plans that will move them toward self sufficiency. The program does not include financial assistance.

According to U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt, people need different things to bring their lives back together. “Every life is individual, every life is unique," said Sec. Leavitt in announcing the program.

The federal agency turned to CCUSA to coordinate the effort because of its proven track record in providing case management services to tens of thousands of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors. The programs is an expanded model designed to deploy rapidly anywhere in the United States following a disaster.

CCUSA, in partnership with other nongovernmental organizations, will provide the necessary number of case managers to help thousands of victims of Hurricane Gustav and future disasters.

Case managers from the Regional Disaster Response Team will be stationed at the Disaster Response Centers (DRCs) throughout the affected region.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge and Catholic Charities USA is collecting financial donations to support its Hurricane Gustav recovery efforts.

To contribute to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge efforts, visit www.ccdiobr.org or send checks to Catholic Charities, P. O. Box 1668, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.

To contribute to Catholic Charities USA’s response efforts:

Call (800) 919-9338, visit http://www.CatholicCharitiesUSA.org or send checks to Catholic Charities USA, 2008 Hurricanes, PO Box 17141, Baltimore, MD 21297.

Catholic Charities is unable to accept contributions of food, clothing, blankets and other relief supplies. Its federal ID number is 53-0196620.

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