Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi and the Mother Teresa Shelter are committed to helping during these difficult times. For the safety of clients, as well as the staff, we have altered our procedures until further notice. Although most of the main buildings are empty, we are still open. "I am extremely proud of our organization," said Executive Director Warren Phipps, Jr. of Catholic Charities and Mother Teresa Shelter. "The staff and volunteers have pulled together to develop innovative ways to continue to serve those in need."
With the COVID-19 stay-at-home order for Nueces and the surrounding counties, the needs of our community are greater than ever before. Our Catholic Charities and Mother Teresa Shelter services are critical and essential, so a "Continuity of Operations Plan" has been in effect since March 30.
To keep serving our clients, a minimum number of essential personnel will report to the office. Others will work remotely from home, where we will be able to maintain our case management functions remotely.
Our dedicated employees continue to care for our community, and we will continue to be open with limited services. "We have been faced with extreme challenges in recent weeks as we navigate unchartered waters with determination to continue serving those in greatest need throughout our community," said Director Sasha Christensen for Disaster Response Services. "Together, we have remained committed and intuitive on doing just that."
Through the Emergency Aid Program, our Food Pantry and Financial Assistance programs are open by appointment only. For the Food Pantry, we have implemented a drive-thru system. Clients are first required to call in to get an appointment date and then come at any time during that day to receive their food bag. They never have to get out of their car. The drive-thru service allows the clients to receive their food bags but also keeps our staff at a safe distance.
With many people in the community losing their jobs, the need for financial assistance is on the rise. We have seen a weekly increase in the need for food. For our Financial Assistance program, a by appointment only system has also been implemented. All financial assistance is now being done over the phone.
At this time, we are only able to make minimal home deliveries to some of our existing senior and disabled clients who are unable to travel. To keep everyone safe, we schedule a time with the client and drop-off deliveries only at their door.
The Emergency Aid Program is not the only program to make adjustments. The Ministry & Life Enrichment for Persons with Disabilities Program has canceled all programming until further notice, and The Father Walsh Summer Camp has been postponed.
Sister Antonietta "Letizia" Le Re continues sewing face masks for Catholic Charities and Mother Teresa Shelter staff and volunteers.
All Immigration Services are also by appointment only and the Catholic Charities-Flour Bluff location was temporarily closed but reopened for food pantry assistance via drive-thru at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, located on 2233 Waldron Rd. on the week of April 27, Tuesdays and Thursdays only, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. until further notice. Please call (361) 929-6077 for assistance.
We are working with the rural food pantries we assist. On April 22, the Mathis food pantry was open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. with 300 food bags being distributed. A food pantry in Gregory is in the works.
Our Parents as Teachers (PAT) staff are now doing virtual home visits with clients. The PAT team has also prepared learning packets for each client to use while they stay at home. Each pack contains three activities, a coloring book, crayons, and a reading book. Please call Catholic Charities at (361) 884-0651 between the hours of 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and ask for your caseworker or an appointment for the service you are seeking. We will do our best to assist you and your family.
The Mother Teresa Shelter has also made some changes in procedures. Until further notice, the courtyard, main day room, showers and laundry facilities are closed due to COVID-19. The shelter still offers breakfast Monday-Friday at 8 a.m. and lunch at 11 a.m. in the form of take-out meals. Each food container provides an uplifting message for the clients, such as "Keep the faith. Hold on. Things will get better." The Mother Teresa Shelter is averaging 120 clients for breakfast and 100 clients for lunch each day. The staff is working very hard to keep everyone safe and healthy.
As of April 15, five temporary portable toilets have been placed at 1221 Caldwell (vacant lot located at N. Staples, Alameda and Caldwell). These toilets will be open from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. for the homeless to use while the "stay at home" order is in place. There is a security guard on-premise as well as hand-washing stations and trash cans. This has been made possible courtesy of private donors and through a partnership with the Ed Rachal Foundation. We are also working with the City of Corpus Christi on getting a shower trailer to be placed at the same location.
During these uncertain times, Catholic Charities and the Mother Teresa Shelter has had an outpouring of love from donors such as Fajitaville Grill North Beach, CC Produce Co., and Nueces County Community Action Agency. Meat, rice, beans, tortillas, fresh produce, and dairy items have all been donated. Our partner, Coastal Bend Food Bank, has also helped us tremendously by providing us a critical resupply of non-perishable food and produce daily. Our clients are so thankful for their generosity. We have also had numerous volunteers come out and help restock the food pantry and fill food bags. "We have been blessed with volunteers!" said Elma Ortiz, Emergency Aid program director. "They have been and continue to be a big help for our small staff."
"I am extremely proud of all the efforts being made at both Catholic Charities and Mother Teresa Shelter to help as many individuals as we can," Christensen said.
"Each day, I am amazed by the resilience of the staff as we face daily challenges to meet the needs of our community members," said Senior Director Angelina (Angie) Garcia, of programs and grants. "We are committed to serving as long as God wills us to be His hands and feet. I am proud because we are the picture of joy in service to Him."
"I am also very grateful to our diocese and our partnered non-profits and faith-based organizations for their collaboration during this difficult time. Indeed, working together, we can better assist the less fortunate," Phipps added. "I am inspired by the Lord’s blessings each day, which free us from fear and give us hope."
Like never before, Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi and Mother Teresa Shelter needs your support. There are many ways to get involved: Give funds; Give your time; Give your talent; Get involved; We need you! Please give today to help ensure we can meet the needs of our community tomorrow. May God Bless you and protect you, your loved ones, and our community.
Donate to Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi or Mother Teresa Shelter at catholiccharities-cc.org/donate-to-catholic-charities.