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Calm in the Storm


By Gregory Kepferle
CEO, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and President, Charities Housing Development Corporation

“…If you pass through raging waters…you shall not drown… Be not afraid, I go before you always. Come follow Me and I shall give you rest.” Ever since the San Jose flood, I have been singing these lyrics of Be Not Afraid by Bob Dufford, SJ. In the midst of the tragedy of the losses of personal property and possessions experienced by so many of our neighbors, I am so grateful no one was hurt or killed. As we work at Catholic Charities to help families recover from the flood, I am also grateful for the generous outpouring of support from the community and amazing dedication of our compassionate and skilled staff and volunteers.

While some families will recover fairly quickly after cleaning up and replacing damaged furniture, clothing and supplies, quite a few still struggle because the flood just added to their ongoing financial struggles to make ends meet. Our role at Catholic Charities is to provide calm in the storm, to walk with them on the long journey to recovery and connect them to housing, mental health services, and help them navigate other benefits and resources so they can become self-sufficient.

We are blessed to have the support of Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, the Diocese of San Jose, all the generous pastors and parishioners, individual donors, foundations and corporations. It helps that we are part of the national ministry of Catholic Charities USA and benefit from technical expertise and additional support from the national office and peers around the country. We also have great partnerships with the City of San Jose and as a member of the local network of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) called CADRE.

Catholic Charities USA, which is the network of Catholic Charities agencies across the country, is the Catholic Church’s domestic disaster relief agency designated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. So when a disaster strikes, we move into action.

Catholic Charities’ usual role is to provide long-term accompaniment, advocacy and resources to support the recovery of disaster survivors. However, since Hurricane Katrina, Catholic Charities agencies often have stepped up earlier with relief efforts alongside the American Red Cross and Salvation Army.

While the Coyote Creek Flood may appear to be old news and dropped from the top of the media cycle, our neighbors are quietly struggling to rebuild their lives, and still need our help.

Visit www.catholiccharitiesscc.org for additional information.