By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published January 25, 2019 | En Español
ATLANTA—More than an estimated 450 military veterans were homeless in Atlanta and four other counties in 2018 in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, according to advocates for veterans.
Catholic Charities Atlanta is one of the resources that helps women and men who served in uniform to stabilize their lives with housing and employment assistance.
The goal is to provide “wrap-around services” to veterans and their families to move toward their self-made goals, said Monifa Holman, the senior program director for family stabilization.
“Everything we do we try to do it with respect and honor people where they are,” said Holman, a longtime social worker.
This work of Catholic Charities Atlanta is one of the beneficiaries of the 2019 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal.
Last year, some 77 veterans were helped, with a third of the clients being women who served in the military.
The needs of the veterans vary, from keeping a roof over their head to mental health issues, Holman said.
“These are real people with real experiences that have come home to families that operated without them for months,” she said.
Holman said her agency works with veterans to make sure they know what government benefits they are eligible to receive and can help them navigate the paperwork to receive them. Some people get so frustrated by the red tape, they walk away to focus on daily living, which can lead to problems, she said. Her colleagues are trained to be supportive to make sure people achieve their goals, she said.
An AmeriCorps Peer Navigator, someone who either served in the military or a family member of a veteran, helps clients navigate bureaucratic hurdles. And for the past 11 months, the navigator has been Lisa Robinson, the daughter of an Air Force veteran. She said the work has been rewarding, helping people with a crisis move to a better situation.
One success was a father, with five children, staying in a hotel. She was able to help fix up his car, connect him with a housing program and link him with a job fair, which led to a paid position. The family was able to move from the hotel into a home where the children had stability and can get set with schooling, Robinson said.
Or there was the veteran who was losing his sight, so Robinson connected him with a transit service that could help him with getting around, she said.
“We try to get them back to self-sufficiency. It is really about keeping in touch with the community,” she said.
According to the Veteran Affairs National Center on Homelessness, five years ago more than an estimated 1,100 homeless veterans were in Atlanta and the counties of Fulton, Athens-Clarke County, Cobb and DeKalb. Approximately 18 out of every 10,000 veterans in the United States experienced homelessness on a single night in 2018, according to a report.
The work by Catholic Charities to serve this group of men and women couldn’t be done without the financial support from the appeal and people who help meet its goals, Holman said.
“We are in the business of helping people,” she said.
Go and make disciples
Donations made to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal provide funding for the programs, ministries and services of the Catholic Church in north and central Georgia. The goal for the 2019 appeal is $8.5 million.
The theme of the 2019 Archbishop’s Annual Appeal is “Go, Therefore, and Make Disciples.”
In a letter, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said the mandate of Jesus is lived out by the faithful.
“We see it in action every day through the care shown by our brothers and sisters for the needs of the less fortunate, for the education of our young in the faith and for the support of our seminarians,” he wrote.
More than 1 million Catholics live in the 69 counties of the archdiocese and are served by 189 diocesan priests, 88 religious order priests, 86 men and women religious. There are 279 permanent deacons and 52 seminarians studying for the priesthood. Catholic schools, both diocesan and independent, serve more than 11,500 students with close to 41,000 young people participating in parish religious education programs and 15 college campus ministries.
Where’s the money go?
The annual appeal provides most of the money for the ministerial, outreach, education, formation and discipleship in the Atlanta Archdiocese.
The ministerial area, which receives $3.25 million, includes seminarian education ($2.1 million), permanent diaconate ($350,000), priest support and retirement care ($650,000) and priest continuing formation ($150,000).
Pastoral outreach, which receives $1.95 million, encompasses the ministries of Life, Dignity and Justice, including the Respect Life ministry ($150,000), Justice and Peace ministries ($150,000), Prison and Jail ministry ($150,000) and Disabilities ministry ($150,000). The area also includes the office of Intercultural and Ethnic Diversity ($350,000), Child and Youth Protection ($150,000), hospital ministry ($50,000), Metropolitan Tribunal ($450,000), Parish and Mission Support ($300,000) and cemeteries ($50,000).
The area of education, formation and discipleship, which receives $2.3 million, includes under-resourced school support ($500,000), parish preschool programs ($50,000), campus ministry ($550,000), religious education ($300,000), youth and young adult ministry ($200,000), marriage and family ministry ($250,000), pastoral care ministry ($250,000) and Eucharistic Congress ($200,000).
Catholic Charities receives $500,000 from the appeal, which goes to three self-sufficiency programs, skill development services ($150,000), education/employment services ($150,000) and security and well-being services ($200,00), including veterans case management, housing counseling, foreclosure intervention, English language instruction and counseling.
Goals set for every parish
Every parish has a monetary goal for the appeal, which is 8 percent of the offertory from the fiscal year ending one and a half years prior to the appeal start.
Ninety percent of monies collected above the parish goal are returned to the parish and 10 percent is allocated to that parish’s endowment fund at the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia.
Parishes not reaching their goal make up the shortfall from operating funds.
Donors can make a pledge and pay in up to 10 monthly installments, through Dec. 31. Payment methods include cash, check (payable to “Archbishop’s Annual Appeal), credit card and stocks and securities.