Catholic Charities-Diocese of St. Petersburg

Daily Point of Light # 3149 Mar 1, 2006

Catholic Charities USA is the membership association of one of the nation's largest social service networks. Catholic Charities agencies and institutions nationwide provide vital social services to people in need, regardless of their religious, social, or economic backgrounds. Catholic Charities USA supports and enhances the work of its membership by providing networking opportunities, national advocacy and media efforts, program development, training and technical assistance, and financial support.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of St. Petersburg serves with charity and compassion to promote the sanctity and dignity of all people with God. They offer hope by helping those in need and uniting with others in service. They were created as a nonprofit corporation in June 1968, when the Diocese of St. Petersburg was established.

From 1945 to 1968, services were provided in the area under the direction of the Diocese of St. Augustine as the Tampa Office for Charity. The agency serves all residents of Citrus, Hernando Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties regardless of race, creed, gender, national origin, handicapping condition or socio-economic status. Over the past 60 years, Catholic Charities as provided a broad array of social services designed to support and preserve families, and promote self-sufficiency and social justice. Today this array of services includes: refugee resettlement and immigration services; clinical counseling; adoption services, foster care; pregnancy and parenting support, HIV/AIDS housing and support, farm worker housing, housing counseling and elderly services.

The agency supports these services through a variety of revenue sources including local, state and federal governmental funds, United Way, Diocese of St. Petersburg contributions and program fees. The annual budget is approximately $8,000,000 with 116 employees. During fiscal year ending 2005, Catholic Charities provided services to 10,564 clients.

They have also established a humanitarian project that provides medications and assistance to children with cancer in Cuba at Sacred Heart Parish in Verdado. It has also initiated a program that brings children and youths in need of prosthetic replacement to Tampa. The service is a volunteer effort that involves Mr. Waldo Esparza, a prosthecian; St. Joseph’s Hospital Rehabilitation Department; Fr. Ramon Hernandez, a Pastor; a volunteer, Mr. Ed Foster; Catholic Charities’ director, Arnold Andrews; Mr. Bill Horan, President, Operation Blessing.

The organization was able to provide a 19-year-old young woman with a prosthetic leg who had been on crutches since the age of 15. There is another young woman, 18 years old, who is in transit for a prosthetic for her amputated shoulder. They have also provided much needed medications for children undergoing chemotherapy in need of anti-vomiting, anti-diarrhea, and anti-inflammatory medications.