ShareLife helps agency through COVID crunch

By 
  • September 11, 2020

Elizabeth Pierce will celebrate her 25th year with Catholic Family Services of Durham in May 2021. The therapeutic work she and her colleagues do, particularly on behalf of women and children in abusive living situations, remains profoundly affecting.

“I love the work that our organization does all of these years later,” said Pierce, the Catholic agency’s executive director since 2010. “We have our mission statement painted on our wall that we provide ‘hope, health and healing.’ And truly that is what we do for people — and that never gets old.”

Despite COVID-19 ultimately causing complete upheaval to their daily living since mid-March (the reality for all Canadians), the team has remained resolute in its commitment to helping clients navigate an extraordinarily uncertain time. 

Pierce told The Catholic Register “that 526 unique people were served from March 17 to Sept. 2.” These are individuals who receive “bi-weekly therapy sessions and/or group therapy sessions.”

Catholic Family Services of Durham is one of the more than 40 agencies supported by Catholics in the Toronto archdiocese through the annual ShareLife campaign. Just as COVID-19 affected everyone, so too did it cut into ShareLife’s fundraising. It has recently re-started its 2020 parish campaign with parishes across the archdiocese holding the first of three ShareLife Sundays Sept. 12-13.

The funding Catholic Family Services receives from ShareLife has helped the agency weather the pandemic storm. In the early days with employees working from home, they relied on personal cell phones and computers to continue working.

Financial support from ShareLife and emergency funding from the Government of Canada allowed for the purchase of business phones and laptops for the home offices, helping to keep the client-centred counselling operations going, said clinical manager Joscelyn Henderson.

“They were all very focused on checking in on every client to ensure they had every support that they needed,” said Henderson. “All our (counsellors) had to solve different things such as finding a confidential space for work when living with a partner in a bachelor apartment, or coping with kids and working in the evening. Our staff has such a heart for our clientele.”

One of the most significant hurdles Catholic Family Services has confronted during the pandemic is connecting with their women and children clients who experience family violence (50 per cent of clientele) due to an abusive partner.

“We have had to be creative in getting in contact with them.”

Therapists have also stepped up to provide compassionate counselling to those on the pandemic’s front lines. Henderson has received feedback that these workers feel safe and appreciate having a forum to be vulnerable and openly speak about their trials.This gives them the strength to go back to work again to confront COVID-19.

It is evident to Pierce that ShareLife is committed as ever in aiding Catholic Family Services to achieve its mission. The Toronto archdiocese’s fundraising arm is supporting its agencies financially at close to normal levels. As well, ShareLife has worked to build awareness for the agency through videos, stories and other marketing.

“The level of commitment they have shown in raising funds so we can continue to do our work has never been more apparent than it has been during this time,” said Pierce. “We received a powerful message from them that theye’re going do everything in their power so we can be whole or as whole as possible.

“Bottom line the dollars we get from the ShareLife campaign through Catholic Charities is spread across everything we do in our organization from administrative costs to front-line service delivery. There isn’t one line item where the funding from ShareLife doesn’t touch.”

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible, which has become acutely important amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.