This Wednesday, March 17, marked 110 years of Catholic Charities Fort Worth’s service to our community. As an over-100 year old organization, Catholic Charities Fort Worth has helped North Texans in times of natural disasters, economic hardship, and now disease.
In Fort Worth, 18% of people live in poverty and one in four children lack consistent access to good, healthy food. Catholic Charities Fort Worth is on a mission to end poverty in our community and ensure that everyone in our district not just survives, but thrives… even during this time of uncertainty.
Catholic Charities Fort Worth is part of the national network of Catholic Charities USA, offering poverty solutions from providing affordable housing to access to employment and health services, regardless of anyone’s religious background. For years, I’ve been proud to work closely with Catholic Charities Fort Worth to support their mission, including when I brought then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to Fort Worth in 2018 to see firsthand how the organization lifts people out of poverty and into the workforce.
As a former teacher, one of Catholic Charities Fort Worth’s innovative programs supports a cause very special to me: helping low-income, non-traditional college students (who are at especially high risk of dropping out) stay in school and graduate. Stay the Course is a great example of a private solution addressing a public problem, and uses both financial assistance and case management of each student’s needs, pairing each student with a “Navigator.” Students in the program increase their chances of graduating twofold, and female students increase their chances fourfold!
Stay the Course’s way of caring like a nonprofit but thinking like an entrepreneur pays off. 182 students in our district have already completed the program by graduating or transferring to a four-year university. Stay the Course is currently helping almost 800 students on Tarrant Community College’s five campuses.
In 2019, Catholic Charities Fort Worth provided 32,500 rides across our district, helping members of our community maintain employment, stay in school, or attend medical appointments, making them the largest transportation provider in all of Tarrant County, outside of Trinity Metro!
Catholic Charities Fort Worth’s long history in our community shows that it’s not always easy, but it is possible to pull people out of poverty, even in times of crisis. The organization is continuing to serve those in need, safely, including by taking extra precautions in running its Dental Clinic and Transportation office, and some staff are providing support to people virtually. Especially at a time when which the less-fortunate in our community must also face coronavirus’ ever-changing threat, we should remember the heart of Catholic Charities Fort Worth’s mission: helping others, and that “ending poverty is possible”. After all, if it can’t be done in Texas, where can it be done?