Imagine the challenge Catholic Charities was facing. With three homeless facilities filled to capacity in the cities of Wausau, Eau Claire and La Crosse, they suddenly had to comply with social distancing requirements. This was an essential safeguard against COVID-19, but what were they to do – reduce the number of guests to create spacing, leaving many on the streets in the middle of March? Anyone who knows Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse knows that was not an option.
Thanks to their proven record of leadership, compassion and skill, Catholic Charities was able to quickly partner with key civic, religious, medical and business leaders, as well as organizations like the Coulee Collaborative to End Homelessness, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. With this team effort, Executive Director Roberto Partarrieu and his staff were able to secure and outfit new, larger locations in all three cities, in a matter of days. Now they can weather the pandemic without leaving homeless people out in the cold.
But there’s more. In La Crosse, one of Catholic Charities partners began working with local restaurants that were struggling to survive with their dining rooms closed because of the pandemic. These restaurants were asked to prepare low-cost meals to feed the La Crosse Warming Center guests. Next, Catholic Charities started a GoFundMe campaign to compensate the restaurants, a campaign which Stansfield Vending of La Crosse generously assisted with a matching grant of $10,000.
Catholic Charities exists to show the love of Christ to suffering humanity. They rejoice to partner with the generosity so apparent in the communities of which they are apart. To learn how you can support this tireless work through your prayers, donations or volunteer efforts – or if you or someone you know needs help – visit Catholic Charities’ website at cclse.org.
By Chris Ruff
Director of the Office for Ministries and Social Concerns