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The Spring Celebration is coming May 20

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This year's Spring Celebration is an evening dedicated to the fight against food insecurity.

The COVID-19 public health emergency continues to cause enormous strain in our communities, particularly on our most vulnerable individuals and families. One of the most devastating effects of the pandemic is food insecurity, where one in eight individuals in the United States struggles with food access, and Massachusetts is experiencing the most significant increase in food insecurity in the nation since the start of the pandemic. According to the organization Feeding America, across the state, over 617,000 people live with hunger, and of them, more than 138,000 are children.

Weekly demand at Catholic Charities of Boston (CCAB)'s food pantries in Boston, Brockton, Lowell, and Somerville has grown 100 to 200 percent from pre-pandemic levels, and during high-demand times, need can surge up to 500 percent. To put that into perspective, before the pandemic hit, approximately 200 clients visited CCAB's Yawkey Center food pantry in Dorchester each week. During the pandemic, over 250 clients visit daily. Over the last year, the pantries' monthly food distribution increased to approximately 200,000 pounds, equating to about 167,000 individual meals.

Donor support helps stock our food pantries. CCAB is financially independent from the Archdiocese of Boston and relies on partner organizations and many compassionate individual donors to continue serving those in need. For over 115 years, the agency has provided a holistic approach to supporting tens of thousands of clients with life's basic necessities -- food, shelter, living assistance, family and youth services, workforce development and education, refugee and immigrant services. The wraparound services move clients from crisis to stability and, ultimately, self-sufficiency.

On Thursday, May 20, we will gather virtually for Catholic Charities' annual Spring Celebration fundraising event. This annual tradition celebrates CCAB's core values of justice and compassion and raises the significant funds necessary to continue the agency's crucial work across Eastern Massachusetts. Eighty-five cents of every dollar donated directly supports the agency's programs and services and enables CCAB to continue expanding and enhancing programs that address inequities in our communities.

This year's Spring Celebration is an evening dedicated to the fight against food insecurity. The 30-minute virtual program will feature an in-depth conversation with thought leaders moderated by CCAB's chief operating officer and former WCVB-TV reporter and anchor Kelley Tuthill. Panelists will discuss the pandemic's effects on food access and how their organizations work to combat growing food insecurity.

Those scheduled to participate on the panel are:

-- Beth Chambers, director of Catholic Charities Greater Boston and South Divisions

-- Catherine D'Amato, chief executive officer and president of the Greater Boston Food Bank

-- Catalina Lopez-Ospina, director of the Mayor's Office of Food Access, City of Boston

-- Nate Mook, chief executive officer of World Central Kitchen

The program will honor Catholic Charities Champions, volunteers who continue to work tirelessly to support the agency's critical programs for our neighbors in need throughout these unprecedented times. And you'll meet Donnette, a grateful client and dedicated volunteer whose life changed because of the support she received from CCAB.

Now, more than ever, we need donor support to continue to inspire hope and provide a pathway to self-sufficiency to the people we serve. Even with vaccines available, our communities will feel the impact of the pandemic for years to come. We hope that you will consider joining CCAB online on Thursday, May 20. Registration for the program is free, but those who are able are encouraged to consider making a financial contribution to help support the programs and services that are critical to so many of our neighbors in need across the archdiocese. Together, we can make a difference.

For more information, to register and donate, please visit CCABcelebration.givesmart.com.

JACQUELINE CUNNIFF IS MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER FOR CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF BOSTON.



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