New name, new location, same commitment to mission
Hammond--On August 12, 2009, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge held an open house to celebrate the grand opening of Catholic Charities Serving Tangipahoa. The name change reflects the array of services Catholic Charities expanded into Tangipahoa Parish following Hurricane Katrina. Tangipahoa Cares was an emergency assistance program of Catholic Charities and the agency’s most widely-known service in the parish.
“Today, emergency assistance is only one service offered by Catholic Charities Serving Tangipahoa,” explained Lynn Gaudet, CCDBR Social & Community Responsibility Director.
Rather than focusing on band-aid assistance with short-term benefits, Catholic Charities Serving Tangipahoa works to break the cycle of poverty for families by offering a comprehensive roster of programs, like employment assistance, personal finance classes, mental health counseling and more.
“We help families help themselves and become more self-reliant,” said Gaudet.
Click here to see more photos from the Open House.
“One of the blessings of the storm has been the lessons we’ve learned to pull families out of poverty,” said Gaudet. “Now we’re applying these lessons to long-time area residents to help them rescue their families from the disaster of poverty.”
“Other than a new location and a name change for one program, our programs will continue to meet the needs of Tangipahoa Parish’s poor and vulnerable,” said Gaudet.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Catholic Charities Tangipahoa-based programs included senior employment services, mental health counseling and Tangipahoa Cares. Since Katrina, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge has spent $3.2 million serving Tangipahoa parish residents.
“After the storm, the need for our services exploded in Tangipahoa,” said Gaudet. “Our Disaster Case managers have helped thousands of families get back on their feet. The influx of immigrants has strained the community. Housing costs have skyrocketed.”
“We’re very excited about our new location,” Lisa Bourgoyne, the newly-named Tangipahoa Programs Coordinator. “Our new larger location in The Established Plaza allows us to bring most of our Tangipahoa-based services under one roof and add instructional space for small groups.”
The new office will house Tangipahoa-based case managers, immigration outreach, and employment counselors and host courses for first time homebuyers, budgeting classes, and family strengthening programs.
The agency’s AmeriCorps/VISTA outreach coordinator and staff are also stationed in the new space. This federally-funded program places workers in area nonprofits and community centers.
Catholic Charities mental health counselors will continue to see most clients at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church on the Southeastern Campus. Our Disaster Mental Health counselors will set their appointments at the new site.
Last week, the agency met with a number of community leaders to form Tangipahoa Parish Ministry Committee. The Committee is tasked with developing the strategy and direction of the area’s services.
Most of the $3.2M the agency spent on Tangipahoa programs originated from Katrina-related funding sources.
“Those funding streams are dwindling everyday,” said Gaudet. “That’s why we’re focusing on sustaining our most successful disaster relief programs.”
Gaudet explained community-support is crucial at this time. The agency is accepting financial donations and encourages area residents to pitch in to help their neighbors in need.
“Rest assured,” said Gaudet, “donations received from Tangipahoa residents and organizations will stay in Tangipahoa.
For more information, call 985-542-9896. The new office is located in The Established Plaza at 707 W. Coleman, Suite B, Hammond, LA.