Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

The Attorney for the Poor

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

The Attorney for the Poor

Article excerpt

How would you like to get your own Lombardi Trophy signed by New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton? It was one of 30 decorated "shrimp boots" raffled at the New Orleans Home Show held in late September. There was a cowboy boot from the Zac Brown Band, and a pointy-toed boot from the Broadway show "Wicked."

The "boots" raised money for Catholic Charities' Oil Spill Relief Fund. Catholic Charities has been operating five relief centers in four south Louisiana parishes, and while the money coming in dwindles, the needs of the fishers, oystermen and other businesses that rely on our seafood industry grow.

"The really scary thing for us is that the attention has gone away," said Margaret Dubuisson, Catholic Charities director of communications. "And every week families are falling further behind."

Catholic Charities USA, the social service network to which the New Orleans agency belongs, celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, with centennial events that took place in Washington in September. The network, which is committed to reducing poverty in America, last month released the findings of its annual survey, a compilation of firsthand data from its local agencies serving more than 9 million people each year. The data comes on the heels of the U.S. Census Bureau's report on the increased numbers of the poor.

Catholic Charities' data shows a 7.5 percent increase from 2008 in the total number of people it serves. The largest increase in requests was for food services: Since 2008, there was a 15 percent increase in total requests for food services, with over 1 million more people visiting food banks/pantries.

The high national poverty numbers, Catholic Charities USA president Fr. Larry Snyder said, "unfortunately come as little surprise to those who have been working closely with the growing population for whom poverty has become a daily reality. …

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