“We do not get dignity from power, or money or culture. We get dignity from work,” Pope Francis said in a homily for the feast of St. Joseph the Worker; “Work ‘anoints us’ with dignity.” Pope Francis has been quite consistent with his message of the importance of work. Work is much more than just a way to make a living. Work gives us a connection to our co-workers, where we create common bonds and work together in the community we share, we work together for common needs within our community. Financial stability, is of course, a large part of the importance of work. This stability allows you to give back to society, creates long-term foundational success for families, creates a community of co-workers, gives you a chance to learn new skills, and gives you nobleness and esteem, something to be proud of.
One of the four pillars of our organization is devoted entirely to work is our Employment Services Program. We recognize the need for those in our community to be gainfully employed and earn, not minimum wage, but a living wage which supports the family to live in decent conditions and assure all basic needs are met. Providing a living wage job, is currently the third most pressing issue facing our local communities, in our local study. The living wage for a two-adult (both working) and two-children family in the KCMO metro area is $23.08/hr for each worker. That is two-times our minimum wage. A single mother getting the same pay ($23.08/hr) is below the poverty line.
Employment Services understands the needs of these vulnerable families. As they go through our program, our staff comes to know them very well. They come from difficult circumstances and include, ex-offenders, seniors, discouraged workers, and those experiencing generational poverty. Services such as: Employment Preparation, Resume development, Job search strategies, Interview coaching, Networking opportunities/job leads, and Bus passes (as needed) prepare these men and women to find a living wage.. Many “soft-skills” are also practiced and improved upon including: Self-esteem, Self-advocacy, Conflict resolution, Time management and Job retention strategies.
Often, staff learn families need to also attend our Financial Literacy Classes, which is another example of our wrap-around services caring for the complete person. In Financial Literacy, topics include: Debt Management, Budgeting, Credit repair and building, and how to respond to debt collectors.
Catholic Charities of Kansas City- St. Joseph has been helping the vulnerable in our area find work for almost 80 years, and we have proven success. We are proud to share that on average, families that complete our Employment Services Program nearly double their income. From January to May 2022, average monthly incomes raised from $948.67 to $1,739.66! If you would like more information on Employment Services or Financial Literacy, please email: email@example.com or call 816.398.6894
Society celebrates individualism, but as Catholics, we are called to care for one another – especially the most vulnerable among us. Catholic Social Teachings are here to guide us, thanks to the Church’s rich history of addressing social issues in light of scriptural teachings.
Dignity is a common theme within Catholic Social Teachings and our daily work. We see the dignity of each person that comes to us. We first work to stabilize them with emergency assistance and food. Next, we provide wrap-around programs and services to give families hope for their future. This pathway out of poverty helps them regain the dignity of self-reliance. We are dedicating this issue of Hope Matters to Dignity and how our programs are built around this theme.
By Ashley Everett, Director of Marketing and Communications