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Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Program helps families avoid homelessness.

COVID19 has been something unthinkable this year.  It took all of us by surprise and it filled our lives with so much uncertainty.

Losing a job during normal times is scary, but what about losing a job due to a deadly pandemic and having a stroke in the midst of the pandemic? 

It happened to the Browns, a family of five who came to Catholic Charities for help not too long ago. Before the coronavirus pandemic came to Virginia, this hard-working family had never requested financial assistance from anybody. 

Mr. Brown*, 46, worked as an Uber driver bringing home about $3,000 per month.  Mrs. Brown, 47, ran her home-child care business, and she was netting $2,000 per month.  They have three children: a six-year-old, a 13,-year-old and a 20-year-old son who worked part-time as a restaurant server and is a student at NOVA. 

Then COVID hit and the economic response to the health crisis affected especially service workers, including Uber drivers, restaurant servers, and child-care providers. All three working members of the family lost their incomes. The family tapped into its savings until they were depleted.

Moreover, as the Browns coped with the stress of trying to figure out how to make ends meet, Mr. Brown suffered a stroke.  He spent 10 days in the hospital during a time when hospitals were having their own crisis treating COVID19 patients. 

Fortunately, a hospital social worker provided Catholic Charities information to Mrs. Brown.  The family was late in their rent payments for their Alexandria apartment. Catholic Charities was able to provide $1,500 in assistance to go toward their May and September rent. These payments allowed the family to avoid their biggest fear: homelessness.

These days, Mr. Brown is recovering from his stroke, and going to physical therapy. He hopes to begin working again soon. Mrs. Brown has three little children in her home childcare, and she is in the road of recovering her income.

Before this year, the Browns say they didn’t know Catholic Charities existed for those who really need support and a helping hand.  In a time of great stress, they appreciated Catholic Charities staff for treating them without judgment and with compassion.

Many families like the Browns are suffering and in despair during this time when the whole world is also suffering.  Our mission is to bring hope and help to alleviate the suffering of our community. 

You can help Catholic Charities bring this hope and encouragement to more families within our community, by including our clients and staff in your prayers. You may also help by volunteering or through your financial gifts. Through God’s grace, all of these make our work possible.

Learn more about our Emergency Assistance Program.

Ruth Guillen is a Catholic Charities emergency assistance case manager.

*Names have been changed to protect clients’ privacy.