Human Concerns: CARITAS

CARITAS (Congregations Around Richmond Involved To Assure Shelter) Steering Committee

What is CARITAS? CARITAS (Congregations Around Richmond Involved To Assure Shelter) was organized in the early 1980's to respond to the huge unmet need for emergency shelter for homeless adults in the cold winter months. With its name derived from the Latin word for charity, today CARITAS is the largest emergency shelter program in our community. More than 170 faith communities provide over 37,000 nights of shelter. On average, CARITAS guests spend less than a month in the program.

Who are the homeless served by CARITAS? CARITAS serves people with the greatest needs in our community. Over 95% of CARITAS guests have incomes under 30% of the median income in our area. Despite this poverty, 65% report receiving no government benefits - not even food stamps.  There are many reasons why folks may be homeless.  Many of them work but cannot afford a home.  Lack of affordable housing, health insurance, transportation, domestic violence, and jobs with living wages also contribute to the problem. As long as these problems continue, many of the homeless will continue to need CARITAS and us to help them out.

How can I make a difference?  What would I do as a volunteer?  During our host weeks we will need volunteers to assist with laundering of towels and clothing, kitchens set up and clean up, serving of dinners, making of lunches, donations of food and drinks.  In addition to hosting CARITAS in the summer, we have been assisting other Mechanicsville churches during their host week.  This is a great way to get to know other people of faith in our community and to continue our commitment to reach out to the poor and vulnerable.  Monthly, we need volunteers (individuals or groups) to help in cooking and serving a meal; providing bagged lunches for CARITAS guests to take with them during the day; or helping the host church by assisting with laundry. This year we have assisted 4 other local churches with their CARITAS week.  It is amazing how the Spirit works through us!

Why is this ministry so important to Redeemer parishioners? Each opportunity to volunteer is an opportunity to grow spiritually and re-discover that justice and charity are at the very heart of the Gospel.  The scriptures give us a vision of a new creation. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more … and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Revelations 7:16a-17b).  Whether we are called to cook lasagna, or bake brownies, or spend the night, or just spend time talking with the homeless, we will be changed by the experience.  It is also a lot of fun to connect with others here at Redeemer and from our community.  All of those who have helped with CARITAS thus far have said they would like to do it again!

Leadership Team  Diane Atkins Carol Iacone, Jack Hayek

How do I sign up? That is the easy part. Monthly on the yellow commitment forms, there will be opportunities to sign up for CARITAS. In addition, CARITAS is listed in our stewardship forms so you can sign up for a yearlong commitment at that time. Also, you can always contact Diane Atkins.