Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Parish emergency assistance providers collaborate to serve the poor

the Inland Register

(From the April 8, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)

Representatives of Spokane-area parishes providing emergency assistance to the poor gathered at Catholic Charities’ Spokane center to discuss collaboration and coordination of efforts. In the front row, from left, are Don Jaworski (St. John Vianney, Spokane Valley), Erik Lehto (Jesuit Volunteer with Catholic Charities), and Bill Fishburn and Mike Anselmo (Mary Queen, Spokane). In the back row, from left, are Dave Rausch (St. John Vianney), Mike Cain (St. Anthony, Spokane), Jan Machtolf (St. Thomas More, Spokane), Bernie Korth (St. Augustine), Frank Taylor (St. Francis of Assisi, Spokane), and Don Ragan (St. Mary, Spokane Valley). (IR photo courtesy of Catholic Charities)

Representatives of several Spokane-area parishes met with Catholic Charities staff on March 24 at the Catholic Charities Family Services Center in Spokane to discuss the emergency financial assistance they provide to the poor, and how they can best collaborate.

Following the closure of the St. Vincent de Paul Spokane offices on East Trent in 2008, Catholic Charities hired a Jesuit Volunteer, Erik Lehto, to oversee emergency financial assistance in Spokane County, using outreach funds from six Spokane parishes.

These parishes, by and large, did not have well-established systems to respond to calls for help.

Starting in August 2009, Lehto answers 10-20 calls for assistance daily, many of which are eligible for contributions for utilities, rent, transportation, or prescription medications. The six parishes represented at the meeting each have well-run systems in place, four of them in the form of a St. Vincent de Paul conference.

In order to be good stewards of parishioners’ donations, attendees discussed how best to refer callers to one another, how to collaborate to respond to exceptionally compelling cases, and how to report back to parishes about the expenditures made in the parish’s name. Between the six parishes present and Catholic Charities, several thousand dollars are spent each month to assist Spokane’s poor households and those in temporary crisis.

The group agreed to develop a report combining all of their efforts to demonstrate to the larger Catholic community the scope of assistance provided by Catholic organizations.

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