Staff members at Catholic Social Services are personal inspiration

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Each new year, we’re challenged to follow a path to bright and fulfilling days. I, for one, will use the staff at Catholic Social Services as my guide in 2019.

Every day, they work — and stay — with clients so they can reach permanent stability. It can be difficult, but I know the staff is up to the task, and the effort is worth it. Their commitment, perseverance and problem solving inspires me. In fact, they inspire me so much that I must share with you their incredible work and passion, leading us all to a more supportive and stronger Anchorage.

Your continued support of Catholic Social Services over the past 52 years has made our staff some of the most trusted employees in Alaska. We have established a fantastic track record and continue to meet the most basic needs of the poor and vulnerable in our community, providing ladders of hope from extreme poverty to permanency and peace.

We began as a food pantry, St. Francis House Food Pantry, which still enables more than 80 hungry families to come and get food each day we’re open. For many families this assistance makes ends meet every month, allowing utility and medical bills to be paid. This help is possible because of the director and his staff, who treat every client with dignity and respect.

The next program we created was Pregnancy Support & Adoption Services. Over the years, countless forever-families have been made because of staff’s commitment to children. Recently, they began focusing on children in the Office of Children’s Services custody — some of the most vulnerable people in Alaska. The staff members are experts in trauma-informed care and know how to lovingly support children.

Then Family Disabilities Services’ started at Catholic Social Services. Their staff connects people experiencing disabilities, along with their families, to services that help them. Their knowledge and compassion stand out in Anchorage as they tirelessly find how to individualize and balance the right supports and services for clients’ unique needs.

Next, we added Refugee Assistance & Immigration Services whose staff meets every person resettling in Alaska at the airport. They greet these people — new to Anchorage and seeking a better life — with open arms and an open heart, taking their hands and guiding them through the process of joining our community. Our staff provides critical support to refugees to help them succeed in our community.

Then Brother Francis Shelter and Clare House became programs here. They welcome Anchorage’s most vulnerable in from the cold, providing them with shelter and food. But they also give them experiences that dignify their humanity — showers and laundry for cleanliness, telephones and computers for communication, healthcare for ailments, and compassion, the most critical need.

The most recent program added to Catholic Social Services is Homeless Family Services. The staff accompanies people in extreme poverty and homelessness into housing, employment, and social and emotional wellbeing. They give families a chance at success and lasting stability. Over this last year, they worked with more than 900 clients, helping 93 percent remain housed.

Working alongside these direct providers, Catholic Social Services supports staff too — the employees in our administration, human resources, finance, development and communications, and facilities’ departments. Their work on the sidelines makes the players out in the field succeed.

All these folks witness tiny miracles every day and make the lives of thousands of people in Anchorage better. In 2019, the staff at Catholic Social Services has inspired me to let my light shine like they do. I hope they inspire you too.

The writer is executive director of Catholic Social Services in Alaska. For more on CSS, call 222-7300 or visit cssalaska.org.


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