“It’s said that is always darkest before the dawn.” – Thomas Fuller
It’s been a year of darkness, difficulty, and oftentimes despair. Poverty is something often talked about but lesser known and experienced. For many walking into Catholic Charities, they find us when the night is at its darkest and the hope of dawn seems too good to be true.
I invite you to imagine what this darkness can look like for those we serve – the fear, the worry, the hopelessness.
Imagine losing your job and not being able to pay your rent and utility bills. Now, imagine you have children at home. Imagine having a job interview coming up, you don’t have the normal hygiene supplies to shower, shave and look presentable, but this job could be exactly what you need to get back on your feet. Imagine having a baby at home but you don’t have the money to keep them in clean diapers. Not only are you in need of diapers, but you are also using your last can of formula and are out of supplemental vouchers until the following month. Imagine the cold winter months but you are unable to afford warm coats, gloves, hats, and scarves for your children.
To further paint the picture, even before COVID-19:
- Between 13-19% of Missourians are living at or below the poverty level
- In an average year, we have requests for over $1 million worth of rent and utility assistance. In contrast, we had requests for that same amount between October and December 2020 alone
- 40-50% of the homeless population consists of entire families
- Evictions are one of the leading causes of homelessness, and Kansas City alone sees an average of 27 evictions each day. This is expected to dramatically increase with the upcoming end of moratoriums.
It’s easy to see why poverty can feel like a self-fulfilling prophecy – one that is difficult to escape. In the Welcome Center, we meet people in the midst of their darkness, whatever that may look like.
The Welcome Center serves as the single point of entry for the rest of the agency where people can receive the employment, housing, and family help they need. Here, we serve the immediate need, show them the glimmer in the darkness, and remind them of the promise of dawn.
This is where people from the street come for help, guidance, and an opportunity to improve their life situation; where parents come when they are unable to meet their children’s basic needs, where people come for help with rent and utilities. This is where someone comes for support when they need assistance filling out a food stamp application to feed their family.
The Welcome Center brings everything together for the client in the beginning and helps them begin a new journey. While we serve clients in their immediate needs, we are able to bring clients to our other services where deeper issues are met with hope.
For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (816) 221-4377.
Written by Kisha Thomas, Director of Welcome Center & Employment Services