Catholic Charities Fort Worth shifts tactics for COVID assistance

by Mary Lou Seewoester

North Texas Catholic

December 30, 2020

driver in CCFW vandriver in CCFW van
Paula Lewis waves from a CCFW van. As transportation requests decreased, CCFW switched to delivering food. (courtesy photo)


In March, when phones at Catholic Charities Fort Worth started ringing with triple the normal requests for help, the nonprofit quickly redirected staff and resources to the areas of greatest need. 

Six months later, a CCFW COVID-19 report revealed remarkable outcomes for both its crisis response and for continued support of its existing long-term programs.  Though CCFW’s research shows that long-term client support is most effective, the pandemic required something different — a short-term case management program for emergency clients. The six-month program includes crisis support, information and referrals, emergency financial assistance, budgeting, and transitioning to long-term case management when needed. 

“It’s an emergency stop,” said Katelin Cortney, CCFW strategic communications and creative director. “But we’ve built that out as a pipeline for people to turn to long-term management.” 

In the first six months of the pandemic, short-term case managers served 381 clients with 86 clients transitioning to long-term case management.  

A short-term client, “Celia” [not her real name] said, “CCFW was the only group that returned my phone call when I was trying to find help with my electric bill,” she explained. “This was my first time asking for help … I was so grateful to CCFW.” 

“Leonard,” also a short-term client, said CCFW “helped me to survive another month without getting an eviction or late fees. This gave me time to find another job.”

As communities moved into lockdown, CCFW transportation requests declined. So, CCFW redirected those resources to delivering food. Since March, CCFW partnered with area food banks and other agencies to deliver 37,663 meals and food boxes. 

CCFW also launched the Community Cares Call Center as an intake for potential clients. The center answered 4,451 requests and CCFW distributed over $1 million in emergency funds to more than 1,500 clients. 

Cortney also noted the resilience of clients in CCFW’s signature long-term case management programs.  

“We’ve never been a Band-Aid organization,” she said. “Working with people three to five years is no small feat … but that’s what we’ve found helps people get out of poverty.”

To that end, 74 families moved out of poverty during the past six months, despite pandemic challenges and roadblocks.
“Because of our long-term case management model, many CCFW clients had the savings they needed to navigate financial challenges when COVID-19 arrived,” the report stated.

Additionally, Stay the Course, which helps low-income community college students stay in school, graduated all students who were on track to complete the program. 

“We’ve done well up until this point,” Cortney said. “We’re poised and prepared to continue serving, all the while knowing we need the help of the community, our foundations, and our donors.” 

 

lady in CCFW van

In March, when phones at Catholic Charities Fort Worth started ringing with triple the normal requests for help, the nonprofit quickly redirected staff and resources to the areas of greatest need. 

Published (until 12/30/2031)