Meet Rick Kaplar:
Rick is a parishioner of Christ the Redeemer in Sterling and has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors for more than four years. An active member of the community, he also sits on Boards of Insight Memory Care Center and the Rotary Club of Tysons Corner. Rick serves as the Vice President of The Media Institute, a nonprofit foundation specializing in communications policy and First Amendment issues.
How did you first get involved with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington?
About 16 years ago, a Rotary friend who was already on the Board asked me if I would consider joining the Catholic Charities Board of Directors. I was interested and was fortunate to be appointed by the Bishop.
I didn’t know much about Catholic Charities before I joined the Board. I knew there was a Catholic Charities in just about every diocese and I knew they offered emergency assistance… rent, prescriptions, food and those types of services.
When I got involved, I was amazed by the breadth and scope of services that Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington offers.
How have you remained involved?
I think the greatest contribution I make is behind the scenes. I can bring my organizational skills and strategic planning skills to the table. As Chairman, I help the overall operation run smoothly and I’m grateful to work with fellow board members, other volunteers and staff members who are so dedicated and committed to helping others. They’re a real inspiration!
What changes have you seen over the years?
So much has changed since 1999! Maybe the best example is our food operation, which we now know as the St. Lucy Project.
For years, the food program meant steel shelves overflowing with cans and boxes – all in the basement of Christ House in Alexandria. It was small and cramped and things were stacked every which way.
Now we have this beautiful hub facility in Manassas so we can properly sort and store food for our pantries. And we have a 16-foot refrigerated truck so we bring perishable food to those in need. It really is a professional food distribution operation now!
How do you think Catholic Charities will continue to grow?
In 2015, the Board finalized and Bishop Loverde approved our strategic plan for the next five years.
“Vision 2020” is bold and far-reaching, but the needs in our diocese are growing rapidly. If we had the resources right now, we could easily double the services we’re offering – because that many people in this diocese need our help. Vision 2020 gives us a challenging yet realistic blueprint for reaching that goal over the next five years. And as we grow, we’ll continue to increase our presence throughout all 21 counties of the diocese.
Catholic Charities is poised for exponential growth, but we will need the support of pastors, parishioners, community partners, and donors.
What would you want people to know about Catholic Charities?
First, it’s important to know that Catholic Charities serves all people regardless of their faith. We don’t serve Catholics only – we don’t even ask a person’s religion. At the same time, however, we are different than other social service providers because of our Catholic values. Being of service to others is what God and Pope Francis call us to do. And, in answering that call, the people of Catholic Charities share God’s love and care for all of His people.
Second, being involved with Catholic Charities can be a real faith-building experience. All of our programs need volunteers, and with such a wide range of programs there’s probably a volunteer activity to interest almost everyone. Certainly our clients benefit from our services – but our volunteers are enriched as well. Checking out our volunteer page would be a good first step for someone who is looking for a way to help others.