April 2, 2020 // Diocese

Local Catholic Charities office reaching out to provide aid during COVID-19 crisis

FORT WAYNE — Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is participating in the community response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency’s personnel are working with allied organizations to provide aid to low-income families, seniors on fixed incomes, those laid off as a result of business closures and to other vulnerable populations.

“We are experiencing a great surge in requests for food, clothing, housing, transportation and other basic needs,” said Gloria Whitcraft, CEO of Catholic Charities. “Already we are receiving many, many calls from those laid off because of the shutdown.”

Photos by Molly Gettinger
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is keeping the doors of its South Bend and Auburn food pantries open to help the homeless and those who are out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff have even taken to commercially purchasing food, when necessary, to meet the need.

Whitcraft added that the most important task at present is to quickly and accurately assess the needs of parishes in our diocese as well as the broader public in our area. The organization is surveying parishes to gather an accurate picture of those in need of assistance. They are also coordinating with other relief agencies to compare data and avoid duplication of efforts.

“There are many organizations responding generously to the crisis,” said Whitcraft. “We want to make certain in the midst of this chaos that we aren’t duplicating efforts or letting some people fall through the cracks.”

Catholic Charities food pantries will remain open during this crisis. The South Bend Food Pantry operates Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon, and from 5-7 p.m.; the Auburn Community Center of Caring operates Tuesdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and Wednesdays from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Regarding the emergency relief package passed by Congress on Friday, March 27, Whitcraft said it’s too early to know when financial aid might arrive for individuals and businesses. In the meantime, there are many people living paycheck to paycheck who need immediate assistance with food, utilities and housing costs.

South Bend staff pack food bags and boxes for clients.

On Monday, March 23, Gov. Eric Holcomb told Hoosiers to remain at home until at least April 7. He said the measure is crucial to combating Indiana’s rising number of coronavirus infections. The order, which took effect Tuesday, March 24, at 11:59 p.m., told all Indiana residents to stay at home and confine their movement to essential travel. Catholic Charities and other social service organizations were deemed by the governor to be “essential businesses” so they continue to operate at full capacity.

Whitcraft said counselors continue to meet with clients but do so virtually online. For those who are not proficient in English, case managers still accompany clients in person to medical appointments to provide translation assistance. When available, they provide translation virtually to avoid personal contact. Whitcraft added that the staff is taking extraordinary measures to both prepare for and mitigate community transmission of COVID-19 and other viruses. 

To meet the urgent demands in the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, Catholic Charities is requesting the following:

First, pray for Our Lady’s protection and intercession in this time of crisis.

Second, using recommended safety protocols, assist your neighbors, especially the elderly and the most vulnerable.

Third, if possible, make a financial contribution to the local Catholic Charities office. All donations will remain in the diocese and go to serve those in need.

To donate, go to: www.CCFWSB.org/donate or send a check to: Catholic Charities, PO Box 10630, Fort Wayne, IN 46853.

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