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Begin Lent by giving back to those in need

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It is with these urgent needs in mind that I am pleased to announce that on this Ash Wednesday, March 6, a collection will be taken up in every parish across the Archdiocese of Boston in support of Catholic Charities.

Debbie
Rambo

In her recent Democratic response to the State of the Union address, Stacey Abrams told a story about her father's generosity of spirit. She said that once, as he walked home from work on a cold, rainy night, he encountered a homeless man on the highway, and literally gave that man the coat off his back. When his family asked him why he'd given away his only jacket, Abrams' father told them, "I knew when I left that man he would still be alone, but I could give him my coat, because I knew you were coming for me."

Ms. Abrams used this story to illustrate what she referred to as the "uncommon grace of community," explaining that her family understood firsthand that "while success is not guaranteed, we live in a nation where opportunity is possible. But we do not succeed alone -- in these United States, when times are tough, we can persevere because our friends and neighbors will come for us, our first responders will come for us."

At Catholic Charities, we embrace and cherish the "uncommon grace of community" in all that we do.

As part of the social safety net across the Greater Boston region, Catholic Charities aspires to reach out to, welcome, and support the most vulnerable in our communities. Second only to the state in its reach, Catholic Charities provides food and shelter assistance, childcare, youth programming, adult education, job training, and immigration legal services to individuals as well as multi-generational families of all faiths in eastern Massachusetts.

At Catholic Charities, we know all too well the challenges faced by hard-working people in our community. Today, a single parent with two children working a 40-hour week at a minimum wage of $11 earns $22,800 per year. According to a 2017 MIT study, the living wage for that same family in Massachusetts is estimated to be $68,607 or $33 per hour. The gap between those two numbers explains many of the circumstances that cause families to need our assistance to keep them from being homeless, uninsured, hungry, and hopeless.

Each and every day, thousands of people -- the poor, the marginalized, the vulnerable -- count on the staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities to help with basic needs and the support necessary to close the gap between absolute poverty and the ever-rising cost of living.

We take an integrated approach and virtually wrap ourselves around these families. Many come to us initially for urgent assistance in one specific need, like food, housing or childcare assistance. Over time, as we work with our clients and learn more about their circumstances, we can identify and address other areas of urgent need as well. We work together to chart a path to higher paying wages and financial predictability.

It is with these urgent needs in mind that I am pleased to announce that on this Ash Wednesday, March 6, a collection will be taken up in every parish across the Archdiocese of Boston in support of Catholic Charities.

We know that the "hand-up" we are able to provide when times are tough can make all the difference to a family. And it is through the uncommon grace of the community -- through donors and volunteers like you -- that we at Catholic Charities have been able to provide assistance to those in our community living at the margins for more than 115 years.

For more information about the work we do, or to get involved, visit CCAB.org.

- Deborah Kincade Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.



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