Strengthening Families. Building Communities. Reducing Poverty.

Catholic Charities in Far Western NC – An Ecumenical Endeavor

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Catholic Charities’ presence in far western North Carolina has been known as the Office of Economic Opportunity, OEO for short, for most of its 15-year history.  The program, housed in the Bishop Begley Center for Economic Development in Murphy and offering services in Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Swain Counties, succeeds through a network of partnerships with other agencies and through a collaborative ecumenical approach.  Shining a spotlight on this ecumenical approach will bring into focus just how Catholic Charities successfully assists in the far western NC region to strengthen families, reduce poverty and build communities.

Whb2ap3_thumbnail_OEO-With-NEW-Extension5.JPGen a tornado struck Cherokee County in March 2012, Catholic Charities and its partner St. William Catholic Church were designated to distribute CCUSA disaster relief funds to victims.  An elderly woman got a new ramp for her mobile home, a young family relocated to a donated mobile home, households received needed appliances, and other households had windows replaced.  Catholic Charities staff worked in tandem with two other Christian disaster assistance groups – Nehemiah’s Neighbors of the Methodist Church and NC Baptist Men to offer assistance.

Church partnerships are the foundation of Catholic Charities’ success in far western NC.  At the recent “Stompin’ Out Poverty” event, held on June 13 and sponsored by St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bryson City, table sponsors included two Episcopalian churches, two Catholic churches, and a Methodist church.  The program’s advisory board includes two Catholic priests, a Catholic sister, a Lutheran Pastor, an Episcopalian Priest, and a Methodist Pastor (who currently serves as the chair), who along with other dedicated community members provide collective wisdom and generous energy to help those in need in far western NC. 

Thanks to a network of community and church partners and volunteers, Catholic Charities in far western NC links those in need with valuable resources, including: food pantries, thrift stores, warm clothing, counseling assistance, church outreach programs, community development grants, federal foreclosure prevention funds, etc.  Catholic Charities invites your support to help it accomplish these good works and reach even more people in need of such services. 

By Joseph Purello, Director of the Office of Social Concerns and Advocacy

Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte © 2014