As the New Year approaches, it presents us with a time of reflection. One that allows us to appreciate the year we have had and to enjoy the hope and promise that lies within the year before us. At Catholic Charities USA, this time of year is no different.
To know where we are going, we must understand where we’ve been. This means reflecting on what we’ve learned and accomplished in the years past. As 2012 draws to a close, we benefit from the analysis of the findings from our 2011 annual survey and a series of startling statistics. Some of these statistics will empower the more than 300,000 volunteers that contribute to the work of Catholic Charities agencies across the country by demonstrating the impact we have on those struggling every day to make ends meet, while others will challenge us as a network to do more to effectively and efficiently improve those same lives.
In 2011, Catholic Charities agencies across the country provided help and hope to more than 10 million children, adults and seniors.
When reviewing the services most frequently accessed by those living in need, it is impossible to ignore the degree to which nutrition and hunger relief permeates the work of our agencies across the country. Particularly as families across the country sit down to enjoy bountiful holiday meals, we reflect on the millions of our brothers and sisters who are supported by the good work of our agencies, fifty percent of whose services in 2011 were dedicated to food and nutrition. However, this is only a door through which individuals first access the comprehensive strengthening services our agencies provide across the country. It is access to those services, which include health, housing, economic security, education and refugee and immigration services that, paired with emergency interventions like nutrition and disaster response, enable our network of more than 160 local agencies across the country to do more than simply meet an immediate need; they are changing lives every day.
My visits to local Catholic Charities agencies throughout the year underscored for me the reality that CCUSA would be but a shadow of what it is today without our incredible network of staff and volunteers. According to our 2011 annual survey, local agencies reported that 311,580 volunteers contributed 9.5 million hours of volunteer service in 2011 alone. That’s nearly one hour of volunteered time for every individual served by our network.
While the strength of the individuals in our network is integral to the support we are able to provide to the tens of millions in need across the country, our work would not be possible without the in-kind donations, community support and investments that come to our local agencies from local partners. It is a true testament to our organization that people across all sectors and walks of life support the vital services Catholic Charities agencies provide.
As you take a moment to reflect on your own personal year, I invite you to review the work accomplished at Catholic Charities agencies. Across the country, we will find people in need, and it is up to us to take the time to reflect so that we can move forward and better provide the help and hope that our brothers and sisters in communities across the country are made stronger by every day.