Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri Inc. has accepted the challenge of helping meet the needs of people in 39 counties throughout southern Missouri.
Since its inception in 2009, the organization has worked as a faith-based, 501(c)(3) agency, governed by a board of directors, who are providing hope to meet ever-changing needs.
Its programs are designed to help those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and specifically, pregnant women, veterans in need and individuals recovering from major natural disasters.
“We work as a team to find funding, as well as innovative approaches to how to help people move forward with their lives,” says Executive Director Maura Taylor.
At Catholic Charities’ Springfield office, the organization runs the LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home, opened on Dec. 27, 2013. LifeHouse is a residential program for homeless pregnant women, ages 18 and above and their infants, and children under age 5. Since opening, it’s housed 96 pregnant homeless women, 17 toddlers and 56 infants.
“This is a unique program because the women can stay with us up to a year after they deliver, as we provide services that help them get jobs, help them with education, prenatal and post-delivery care, and parent support,” says Taylor. “We are really looking at the whole person and providing that individualized service that really gives the mom and her baby a brighter future, that they otherwise wouldn’t have had, if they hadn’t come here to live at LifeHouse.”
Taylor says Catholic Charities tries to make programs as comprehensive as possible whether it be LifeHouse, assistance for the homeless or disaster response/home repair and rebuilding.
“We’re walking alongside them and providing that support network and the services that they can choose to make different choices that lead to opportunity and a brighter future,” Taylor says. “I say a brighter future, because I truly believe that.”
Economically, Catholic Charities has given the community over $5 million through services offered by LifeHouse to 56 healthy infants. The maternity home has helped decrease admissions and length of stays in neonatal intensive care units for infants born to mothers with substance abuse histories. The average NICU stay is 30 days, and costs over $100,000.
Job creation also has been key in its economic impact. Catholic Charities grew from a staff of two in 2009 to now 92, including 53 local employees.
Another goal of Catholic Charities has been to help those in financial difficulty find jobs and get themselves to financial stability. Consumer Credit Counseling Services is now a wholly owned subsidiary.
“That fits another critical need here,” Taylor says. “As you work with people toward self-sufficiency, in order to be sufficient, they also have to have financial success. That’s employment and budgeting. We really saw this opportunity to bring more services to the clients we serve.”
Going up at Missouri State University’s 125-acre William H. Darr Agricultural Center on Kansas Expressway is the Small Animal Education Center.