Chief Development Officer, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
Q. With Catholic Charities’ Annual Appeal coming up on May 19–20, what can parishioners expect on Appeal weekend?
A. As we have for 20 years, more than 100 enthusiastic volunteers will be in parishes throughout the Diocese that weekend to share the good news of our work and share ways for parishioners to support our efforts to change lives for good in Santa Clara County.
Q. What about the theme of this year’s Appeal, “Food, Housing, Healing and Hope?”
A. The theme relates to both the tangible services that we provide to people in need – food, housing, education, employment – and the intangible support we provide – healing and hope. Both are important since we can meet immediate needs but without helping people have hope for a brighter future and heal from the events that brought them to us, they cannot successfully move out of their current circumstances.
Q. What has the last year been like for Catholic Charities since the 2017 Appeal?
A. In April, we received some wonderful news that Catholic Charities was named Nonprofit of the Year by the Silicon Valley Organization for our outstanding work. Last year, we served 40,000 individuals through 38 programs and services. In responding to current events and needs that came up in the community, we continued our work with flood survivors from the Spring of 2017 Coyote Creek floods, as well as quickly providing support for “Dreamers” and others impacted by the changing immigration laws. And of course, the lack of affordable housing in Silicon Valley continues to impact all of our programs as our clients struggle to meet this basic need that is a key factor in stability.
Q. Why is parish support so important to the work of Catholic Charities in Silicon Valley?
A. Catholic Charities is the social service arm of the Church and Pope Francis calls us to care for the poor. Our loyal parish donors provide the basis for support of our work – and gifts of all sizes make a difference. By putting their “faith into action”, donations from our parishioners allow us to not only provide existing services but also quickly respond when there is a crisis or a need due to the high cost of housing.
Q. Who is the typical Catholic Charities client?
A. Actually there is no “typical” Catholic Charities client since we serve everyone from vulnerable elderly through our Ombudsman program to elementary school children through our CORAL afterschool programs at schools throughout the county. But one of the things that many of our clients have in common is that they rely on our services to keep them from slipping into a crisis situation – either immediately or in the future. For example, children in our CORAL afterschool program are getting the extra support they need, especially with the vital Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum, so that they can have greater academic success and pursue opportunities for college and career.
Q. Where does the money go that is raised from the parishes?
A. We’ve created six new community impact funds to address the critical needs of food, health, housing, education, and economic security; and a Good Samaritan fund to respond to needs that arise in the community.
Q. What’s different about this year’s Appeal?
A. We have a challenge match to bring in additional Caritas donors. The Joseph Harold LaScola Foundation, to honor their son’s memory, will donate $1,000 for every new Caritas Society Member. Caritas Society Members, through prayer and financial support, demonstrate an unwavering commitment to their neighbors in need by giving annually.
To learn more about the Annual Appeal and the LaScola Challenge, visit catholiccharitiesscc.org/appeal2018 or call (408) 468-0100.
Susan Lucas Taylor became the Chief Development Officer for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County in November 2016. She is one of the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s 2018 Women of Influence.