On Ash Wednesday there will be a collection to support the outreach work of Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. including the Bishop deGoesbriand Grants for Human Advancement.

These grants are awarded to Vermont non-profit organizations that are making a difference in the daily lives of people in their communities.

Vermont Catholic Charities has been awarding Bishop deGoesbriand grants since 2011. To date, more than 200 grants have been given totaling more than $400,000. Agencies receiving funding have included homeless shelters, right-to-life programs and food programs for children and families.

Here are a few examples of how these grants impact the lives of Vermonters:

✦ At the John Graham Shelter in Vergennes, the grant helped fund the case management services to homeless families and children. One family supported was a mother and her four sons. The mother had a full-time job, but the family found it difficult to rebound after domestic violence made them homeless. The John Graham Shelter temporarily housed them in a two-bedroom unit and, with the help of a housing voucher, they moved to permanent housing.

✦ At the Community Emergency Relief Volunteers in Northfield, the grant supported a summer lunch program. One client stated, “I want to say how much I greatly appreciate the summer lunch program. I have five children and my husband and I work full-time, but it is still hard to make ends meet. It takes a little stress off our shoulders knowing my kids can have snacks and lunch throughout the week.”

✦ At the Meals & Wheels of Greater Springfield, the grant helped with needed repairs to the dining room where community meals are served. As a result, participation in the senior community lunch program has increased. One client commented, “My husband passed away a year and a half ago. I was lonely and depressed. I started going to the Senior Community Lunch. I’ve made many friends and don’t feel as alone anymore.”

✦ At the Catholic Center at the University of Vermont, more than 250 students cooked and served free dinners to those in need in Burlington. The grant helped fund the purchase of food for these dinners.

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the 40 days of Lent dedicated to reflection, prayer, fasting and good works in preparation for Easter.

As we begin this journey, we ask you to prayerfully consider participating in the Ash Wednesday collection; any gift, no matter the size, makes a difference. As a Catholic community, let’s continue to do Christ’s work here in Vermont and show Christ’s love to our neighbors in their times of need.

  • Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.
  • Originally published in the March 2–8, 2019, edition of The Inland See.