Catholic Charities expanding services to rural areas of Michiana
Catholic Charities is looking to fill the gap in many Michiana rural communities. On Monday a new service was rolled out by Catholic Charities of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese.
“Our clientele are the most poor and vulnerable so we focus on children, the elderly, migrants and the extremely poor,” says Liz Flaherty the Development Coordinator of Catholic Services.
For close to three decades Catholic Charities has served 14 counties.
They offer a variety of services like access to food pantries, prenatal care, and immigration help.
On Monday the organization unveiled a new RV to take their work on the road.
“We have offices in Fort Wayne and South Bend but there are people who really don’t even have the transportation,” says Kevin Rhoades, Bishop Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese.
Bishop Rhoades attended the reveal of the new mobile charity. He explains how the South Bend office serves St. Joseph, Elkhart, Marshall, and Kosciusko counties.
“I’ll tell them about our services and they will say bishop I don’t have a way to get there,” says Rhoades.
According to a 2015 Purdue University Study on transportation in rural Indiana almost 400,000 Hoosiers live in areas where proximity to social services is more than a 20 minute drive and public transportation options are low.
“This has been a long standing issue for our agency that we’ve had trouble efficiently working with the rural communities just because it is so spread out,” says Flaherty.
With about 15% of Hoosier living in poverty according to 2013 estimated census data, Bishop Rhoades is hopeful this mobile charity will help an under served population.
“So as they organize and as they get the word out I think we will find a lot of people coming for help,” says Bishop Rhoades.
Anonymous donors covered a majority of the initial start up costs but the organization continues to look for different funding sources and is excepting donations.
Catholic Charities is working with communities to set a schedule of when they will be out on the road.