CCC, CCEVA working with others to address critical needs
Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia (CCEVA) and Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) are maintaining their current programs while preparing for what they expect to be a dramatic increase in requests for assistance.
“Our main message is that we really want to make sure the public knows we are open,” said Christopher Tan, chief executive officer of CCEVA.
Jay Brown, chief executive officer of CCC, said a top goal of his agency is to continue serving its clients with “compassionate care” by “maintaining connections with them and making sure they have what they need.”
CCEVA served 9,400 families last fiscal year; CCC, more than 20,000 individuals. Both CEOs expect those numbers to soar as people reel from the restrictions in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Among the measures in Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam has advised people to limit all non-essential travel outside of the home, mandated the closure of recreational and entertainment businesses, ordered dining establishments to provide delivery and takeout services only and directed those who have been exposed to the virus, have chronic health conditions or are age 65 or older to self-quarantine.
While Catholic churches remain open for private prayer and eucharistic adoration, Bishop Barry C. Knestout has suspended Masses and group activities in parishes.
Both agencies are using their websites and Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram to publicize their programs and keep clients, donors and followers abreast of changes and needs. They are also working with other businesses and organizations in a team effort to address the repercussions.
Tan said the people who will be hit the hardest are hourly workers, many of whom are living paycheck to paycheck, whose income is “already stretched thin” and are now experiencing decreased work hours and lay-offs.
Both agencies provide emergency financial aid to cover rent and utilities. That can free up money for other expenses such as groceries, childcare, medical care and car payments, Tan said.
To protect the health of staff and clients, many of the agencies’ services are being handled over the phone.
For CCEVA, that means case management and pregnancy, financial and mental health counseling are being conducted remotely. Care programs for senior citizens, respite care, guardianship and adoption services, all of which can involve in-person interactions, are “operating as usual,” Tan said.
Life coaches continue to work in hospital emergency rooms to connect the uninsured and underinsured with primary care and access to resources such as food and transportation. In addition, individuals can pick up emergency baby supplies, including diapers, and representative payees may pick up their checks from 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Fridays at CCEVA’s Newport News office (12829 Jefferson Ave., Suite 101), and 10 a.m. to noon on Mondays and 8:30 am. to noon on Fridays at the Virginia Beach office (5361 Virginia Beach Blvd.)
Similarly, CCC’s pregnancy, financial and mental health counseling, care programs for senior citizens and workforce development are being conducted over the phone. Continuing programs that may involve in-person interactions include guardianship, foster care and refugee resettlement.
Also, CCC is keeping the lobby of its Housing Resource Center and Youth Hub (809 Oliver Hill Way, Richmond) open to homeless individuals for access to a restroom, water and a care package that typically consists of toiletries, socks and underwear, said Paige Peak, marketing manager.
The two organizations are developing creative ways to help their communities. For example, CCC’s food banks in Roanoke and Richmond have become drive-through services. CCEVA will loan staff to help man food pantries at area Catholic parishes because the number of volunteers is waning due to fear of contracting the coronavirus.
Anita Wallen, CCC chief officer, said a “remarkable” accomplishment was partnering with Richmond city, local businesses and agencies to move 78 homeless individuals living in a makeshift tent encampment into local hotels in three days. CCC will pay for the hotel rooms for at least two weeks.
While Brown said CCC is analyzing which services will be affected most, Tan said he expects financial aid to be the most impacted program.
CCEVA normally spends $75,000 to $100,000 for financial aid. To accommodate “the dramatic increase” in requests that Tan anticipates, the agency is seeking donations for its new St. Joseph Fund. His goal is to raise $10,000 which is “nowhere near what’s needed,” but is a good start, he said.
Requests for various types of assistance may not come immediately, Tan said. He explained that “people may be in a state of shock right now, but eventually, as the restrictions are lifted, people will come out of that fog and realize what they will need help for.”
Brown said it is difficult to project what the needs will be so “we have to be flexible, nimble and creative.”
Also at a time like this, maintaining social interaction is crucial, said Diane Hargraves, coordinator of the CCC Independence for Seniors Program.
“Isolation and loneliness can take a toll on someone’s health,” she said. “A phone call can make a difference.