Josephine, left, a grandma whose lupus left her with disabilities, worked with case worker Ruth Guillen to get the emergency financial assistance she needed.

Every family our Emergency Assistance Program helps is different in their own special way.

Meet Josephine, a Woodbridge resident who has legal custody of her two grandsons, ages eight and 10.  This loving grandmother has a beautiful smile and a strong desire to raise these kids. For years Josephine was healthy and had a good job to support them. She was a project manager for Lockheed Martin Corporation and made about $80,000 annually.  She was able to meet her financial responsibilities and never needed any help. Then she became disabled.

Several years ago, Josephine (we’ve changed her name to protect her privacy) was diagnosed with lupus. She also suffers from diabetes that caused nerve damage in her hands; her hands do not have any strength and are deformed because of her diabetes.  A few years back she went into a diabetic coma that almost killed her.  Nevertheless, she continued working until 2017 when she finally was approved to receive disability benefits.  

But the money is tight. Her only household income is her monthly disability payment of $1800.  Her youngest daughter was receiving a $900 monthly Social Security benefit because of Josephine’s illness, but the benefit stopped when she turned 18. Her grandsons do not receive child support from either of their parents. Because the grandsons’ mom is in the military and unable to assist financially and the father of her grandsons is incarcerated, Josephine is now applying for government benefits for her grandsons.

The family is struggling. Their largest monthly expense is their $2,300 rent.  Other household expenses are basic: electric, gas, water, car insurance, and medication. Josephine turned to Catholic Charities after she received word that her electricity was going to be disconnected because she was behind on the payments.

Because of our generous donors, Catholic Charities was able to pay the electric bill to stop the disconnection. And we provided Josephine enough food from our St. Lucy Food Project pantry to feed her family for a week.

We provided two new backpacks for her grandsons – replacing the old ones they’d been using. After looking at the family finances, we also provided essential guidance, including advising Josephine to seek out a more affordable place for her family to live since her current income doesn’t meet expenses, and advising her daughter, now 19, to look for work to help bring in additional income to ease the family’s hardship.

“Josephine is a great role model for all of us!” said Ruth Guillen, Catholic Charities Emergency Assistance Case Worker. “Her love for life, her daughter and grandsons make her keep going without losing hope. And that’s so inspiring to all of us.”

Throughout the 21 counties and seven cities of our diocese we meet many families headed by people like Josephine, who turn to Catholic Charities for help.  If you wish to donate to our Emergency Assistance Program or volunteer for Catholic Charities, please see