EDITOR’S NOTE: The last names of some people in this story were withheld in order to protect their privacy.
Last winter, Kim was facing eviction for back rent. She was employed, but she left her job after her hours were cut and she was not getting paid as promised. Kim had been living in her apartment for seven years and did not want to leave her home, but with no job, she and her two daughters were in danger of becoming homeless.
Kim turned to Catholic Family Center in Rochester for help. The agency paid half of the back rent Kim owed with money it had received from the annual Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal, said Claudia Gill, CFC’s associate director of volunteer services. The agency also worked with Kim to create a payment plan so she could pay her landlord the rest of what she owed. Gill said the landlord and eviction court agreed to this proposal, and Kim was able to remain in her home with her children. Kim also was able to find a job that would pay enough to support herself and her daughters.
Kim’s is one of the many stories of people who have been helped by the money that CFC has received from the Catholic Courier/Catholic Charities Christmas Appeal. The annual campaign raises money for the emergency funds of various Catholic Charities offices and affiliated agencies throughout the diocese. Last year, the $12,350 in Christmas Appeal funds that CFC received helped 179 families (419 people), said Lisa Lewis, vice president of residential services.
In addition to helping people like Kim secure and maintain housing, CFC also used appeal funds to help people with their utility bills during the winter months. With the brutal cold weather this past winter, Lewis said the need was so great that Bishop Salvatore R. Matano requested second collections to aid those struggling with heating costs.
"We’re seeing people with larger bills because they have less income or are on fixed incomes," she added. "Even a small crisis during the year can make people fall behind."
Roger and Jean fell behind in their heat and electricity payments. Their family of four came to CFC’s Community Resource Services after receiving a final termination notice from Rochester Gas and Electric. Hours before the electricity was scheduled to go off, the pair received money from the Christmas Appeal to keep the lights on, Gill said.
The funds from this year’s Christmas Appeal will continue to provide people with such basic needs as food, shelter and electricity, she noted.
"Every dollar is important to the work we do," John Paul Perez, CFC’s director of housing services, added in reference to the importance of the Christmas Appeal. "Sometimes people just need a little help to get back on track, and the appeal makes that possible."