Catholic Charities USA Remembers Hurricane Katrina

August 27, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (MetroCatholic)  — Rev. Larry Snyder, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, this week visits the Gulf Coast Region on the eve of the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, reaffirming the 100-year-old social service network’s commitment to  respond to the needs of the poor and vulnerable and support local communities, especially in the wake of disaster.

Fr. Snyder’s tour includes visits to Catholic Charities agencies in New Orleans, Lake Charles, Biloxi, and Baton Rouge. In 2005, Catholic Charities USA raised over $163 million for hurricane disaster relief; approximately $153 million went directly to agencies in these immediately-impacted areas, with over $116 million going to agencies in Louisiana. The remaining funds were distributed to agencies across the country providing support to evacuees.

On Tuesday, August 24, Fr. Snyder, joined by local Catholic Charities agency representatives, called for a greater commitment of volunteer and financial resources at the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Gulf Coast Convening in New Orleans, LA. The meeting brought together national, state, and local leaders from nonprofit, government and private sectors to coordinate a national service response to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill and to raise public attention on the human service needs of gulf residents affected by the disaster.

On Friday, August 27, Fr. Snyder will attend the Second Harvest Fifth Anniversary Commemoration. The Second Harvest Food Bank will host a press briefing with Archbishop Gregory Aymond, Archdiocese of New Orleans, and Vicki Escarra, President/CEO of Feeding America, to discuss emergency response to disasters such has Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Oil Spill, and the everyday disaster of hunger.  Catholic Charities USA will be recognized at the event.

On Saturday, Fr. Snyder and Kim Burgo, Vice President of Disaster Operations for Catholic Charities USA, will tour Katrina/Rita devastated areas as well as those impacted by the oil spill.

The tour will conclude on Sunday, August 29, with an interfaith prayer service at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans’ French Quarter with local faith leaders in the community.

Last week Catholic Charities USA released “Katrina & Rita: Five Years Later,” a report outlining the work of the Catholic Charities network as it responded to the life-sustaining needs of over 1.2 million people following the largest natural disaster in U.S. history.  The report, which can be downloaded at http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/, describes Catholic Charities’ sudden 2005 role as an early responder, providing survivors with emergency cash and rental assistance, food, medical supplies, crisis counseling, case management, transportation, temporary housing and employment services, as well as assistance in applying for government aid.

“For as long as the need remains, Catholic Charities is committed to rebuilding better communities, helping families become self sufficient, and ultimately, creating a better tomorrow,” said Rev. Larry Snyder, who began his tenure as president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA just months before the disaster. “While we are very proud of our accomplishments, there remains much work to be done and the Gulf oil spill earlier this summer has only exacerbated things in much of the very same area.”

Catholic Charities USA was founded in 1910 “to bring about a sense of solidarity” among those in charitable ministries. Since 1910, Catholic Charities USA has encouraged professional social work practice, provided opportunities for training and networking, and served as a national voice and expert on poverty issues. The Centennial is a time to reflect on past accomplishments and renew the commitment to serve those in need.

Catholic Charities USA’s members provide help and create hope for more than 9 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. For almost 300 years, Catholic Charities agencies have worked to reduce poverty by providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from health care and job training to food and housing. In 2010, Catholic Charities USA celebrates its centennial anniversary.

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