How to Impact Poverty One Life at a Time

How to Impact Poverty One Life at a Time


Greg-Kep-smallBy Gregory Kepferle, CEO
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County

When José was released from jail, he was a marked man – literally. With a criminal record and with tattoos on his face, he was at risk of retaliation by gang members and had poor prospects for employment. But when he found Catholic Charities, his life changed for good. Through multiple painful treatments his tattoos gradually disappeared. As they diminished, his confidence increased. Catholic Charities helped him get a job, and now he is stably housed, earning an income, reconnecting with his family, and rebuilding his life.

It’s estimated that California spends $49,000 a year on average to incarcerate a single individual. Imagine the cost savings to the criminal justice system alone, not to mention the transformation of his own life, just by José re-joining society. Now multiply his story by several hundred, and you get a picture of the impact that Catholic Charities is having reducing situational poverty for employable adults with barriers to employment.

What about preventing the cycle of poverty and crime to begin with? At Catholic Charities we start with Early Childhood Education through our First Five Family Resource Centers. It’s estimated that one dollar spent on early childhood education will save seven to eight dollars in public dollars down the road. The evidence already shows that quality early childhood education combined with home visiting has an impact on the likelihood of attaining a higher education and earning more income (and preventing crime and incarceration). Multiply the story of a toddler in our First Five Family Resource Center and you begin to see that Catholic Charities prevents the cycle of generational poverty.

But what about those who are too disabled or too elderly to earn an income and who struggle with the costs of food and housing and access to healthcare? Here, Catholic Charities helps by alleviating the symptoms of chronic poverty, by providing permanent supportive housing, nutritious meals, integrated primary care and behavioral health care, and most of all by providing a sense of dignity and respect.

These are just a few of the examples of how Catholic Charities impacts poverty in the valley.

For a copy of Catholic Charities’ Impact Report, go to