Church Donations

Stimulus check donations would be welcome by Maryland charities dealing with pandemic-related claims

As the latest federal stimulus checks hit bank accounts, charities hope beneficiaries whose incomes have remained unscathed during the pandemic will donate funds to support those affected by unemployment, declining wages and crises. medical.

St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore and various programs in the Archdiocese of Baltimore have seen a dramatic increase in the need for assistance since the COVID-19 pandemic crippled many parts of the economy.

Even though the job market does recover somewhat, agencies continue to have strong demand, which they expect to continue for some time, and even worsen as eviction protections eventually come to an end. . So, they provide easy ways for people to donate their stimulus payments – to parishes, schools, pantries, or social service providers.

For example, Terry Brashears, senior director of development for the archdiocese, said that while some parishes have been financially stable during the pandemic, others are struggling financially as parishioners have lost their jobs and their ability to contribute.

“The larger and economically stable parishes have gone well,” she said. “Some in small towns, in rural areas or in parishes with large immigrant and minority populations where people lost their jobs had no way of making up for the losses.”

Nationally, millions of people have lost their jobs and millions more have faced reduced hours and other cuts to their incomes in the past year. Maryland’s unemployment rate fell from 3.3% in January 2020 to 10.1% in April. By February 2021, the the state rate stood at 6.2 percent. Maryland’s highest unemployment rates are found in Worcester County (11%), Baltimore City (8%), Somerset County (7.9%) and Prince George County (7.5 %).

Volunteers prepare lunches at the Our Daily Bread Employment Center in Baltimore during the first weeks of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Catholic Charities)

As jobs evaporated, Catholic Charities in Baltimore and St. Vincent de Paul in Baltimore saw demand rise with calls for help providing food, paying bills, obtaining health care and various types of social services.

Jennifer Lavella, director of marketing and communications for St. Vincent de Paul in Baltimore, said the organization had provided continued assistance throughout the past year, despite complications from restrictions related to the pandemic.

This included providing more than 150,000 “room nights” at its four shelters in Baltimore City and County, distributing more than 1.5 million meals to hundreds of community sites, and providing 1 000 households, Lavella said. The company has also provided support for families to participate in distance learning for young children and a range of other types of help to find employment and deal with emergency financial needs, a- she declared.

Lillian Burke, senior director of development operations for Catholic Charities of Baltimore, told the Journal that demand for all kinds of services has increased over the past year. This included adapting to an increase in the use of the telehealth system for counseling.

“We know telehealth has literally saved their lives over the past year and have invested in the tools that allow us to see more patients virtually,” Burke told Review. “We have seen a higher rate of individuals and families meeting their appointments due to this access, which means better health outcomes overall. “

Catholic Charities had to reconfigure the Head Start program for distance learning and use its network as a means of distributing food. The limits of the pandemic have also meant reinventing the way meals are provided at Our Daily Bread, which traditionally provides hot meals in a dining room, relying on a system of parishes providing heated casseroles for serving.

“They had to pivot,” said Burke, due to restrictions on how food is prepared and served. “They had to leave packing meals. “

Donations to Catholic charities can be made in line. The form makes it possible to establish a recurring donation and to make the donation a tribute to someone.

Neither Burke nor Lavella have provided details on how their agencies’ finances have evolved in the first year of the pandemic, but both said they had benefited from some increases in donations.

“In April 2020, we definitely saw an increase in support,” said Burke. While there is no way to track the source of the donated funds, “that was around the time the first stimulus payments were made. We had both financial and in-kind donations. Examples of the latter included face masks, hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment, she said.

“It shows the compassion of the people,” she said. Catholic Charities launched a special appeal to potential new donors last year, which received a good response rate, she said. “We were able to cover our budget.

Jill M. Pioter, national director of marketing and communications for the National Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, said donations to the society nationwide have increased significantly. Online donations have increased by 25 to 30 percent, allowing the national organization to significantly increase grants to local food banks, she said.

“Some local conferences have said the need is greater than ever,” Pioter said. Donations to St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore can be made in line. The form allows donors to nominate their contributions to a particular program or where needed the most.

Brashears said the pandemic’s forced passage to parishes accepting online donations has helped keep finances on track for many parishes. But for others, donations of stimulus funds could be crucial in helping them survive.

Those who wish to make a donation to support their own church or other parish can nominate it through the Archdiocese of Baltimore. online donation page, said Brashears. The page allows donations to be earmarked for a specific parish as well as other archdiocesan fundraising initiatives, such as the Catholic Community Foundation, which provides grants to parishes, schools and ministries.

A report, “Impact of COVID-19 on parish collections” by the Villanova Center for Church Management at the University of Villanova, surveyed 169 parishes nationwide to assess the progress of their finances over the past year. Overall, he saw a 7 percent decrease in parish collections, although 32 parishes reported increases or no change. Fifty-seven of the parishes reported declines of at least 10 percent.

The report indicates that 80% of the parishes surveyed received loans from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which helped keep people employed and support parish operations. He predicted that over the next year, if the rate of decline in contributions continues, church collections will decline by 24 percent nationally.

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