Roadblocks removed by Catholic Charities Fort Worth donors
Last fall, a woman participating in a long-term program with Catholic Charities Fort Worth hit a major roadblock. She was working nights, attending school during the day, and was just months away from an associate degree in nursing — an education level that would dramatically improve her financial situation. Then she and her entire family caught COVID-19, which resulted in being unable to pay a $365 utility bill.
That’s when Johanna Brewington, CCFW manager of major gifts, called Gene Lamis, a St. Andrew parishioner and volunteer with CCFW’s Game Changers program. Lamis contacted someone on his team of 20 on-demand donors, and the utility bill was paid.
“That amount literally was a game changer to keep her in school and help the family get back on track,” Brewington said. “It was a situational need that our program didn’t have the resources for, so we reached out to a Game Changer who said, ‘Yes, I can do that.’”
In 2022, Game Changers donated more than $59,200 to 46 clients. Of that amount, about $53,200 came from Lamis’ donor team.
Brewington said Game Changers is for clients already enrolled in one of CCFW’s long-term programs and who are working with a case manager on budgeting, stable employment, and goal setting to move out of poverty, permanently.
“Game Changers provides specific emergency financial assistance to help [clients] remove a barrier and stay on track to financial self-sufficiency,” she said.
The program has paid for items such as beds for a client’s children who were sleeping on the floor, tires so a community college student could get to school and work, a wheelchair, a washer and dryer, refrigerator, and even a used car. Clients also received $10 gas cards when high gasoline prices made it costly to drive to in-person meetings with case managers.
Brewington said these basic needs create stress and are barriers to financial stability for clients already working hard to make ends meet.
“Something that I could easily do financially is a complete roadblock for someone else,” Lamis stressed.
He said that after praying for “direction and clarity” on how he could serve God, an idea came — to build a team of committed donors willing to help with client emergencies. So, when a client encounters an unexpected financial barrier, CCFW doesn’t have to search for funds.
Lamis told the donors, “I’ll call you only once in 2022 and I’d like you to say, ‘yes’ to $1,000-$2,000 to help a Catholic Charities client.”
Each month, Brewington presents several scenarios of unplanned needs to Lamis, who then asks two donors to share the cost of those needs.
He has never heard no from a donor.
“Everyone understands what Catholic Charities is doing and wants to be a part of helping,” Lamis said. “Their generosity is remarkable.”