By Tony C. Diaz
Umatuna Si Yu’os
Archbishop Michael Byrnes and officials from Catholic Social Service (CSS) this week made a joint plea to the community to support the non-profit organization which assists many of our needy brothers and sisters in Guam.
Archbishop Byrnes presented CSS Director Diana Calvo and Ramona Jones, Vice-chair of the CSS board as he held his second “Updating the Faithful” briefing Tuesday, May 2 in the St. John Paul the Great Center for Evangelization at the Chancery.
The briefing also promoted May as Senior Citizens Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, two areas intrinsic to the work CSS does.
Calling Catholic Social Service “one of the best-kept secrets on the island,” the archbishop asked Calvo and Jones to explain the scope and range of services CSS provides to individuals and families on Guam.
The organization is in its 38th year serving the community of Guam. It was incorporated in April of 1979 as Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Agana, dba Catholic Social Service.
CSS operates 17 programs at 23 sites that serve the elderly, individuals with disabilities, the homeless, victims of abuse/neglect and domestic violence, and individual victims of disaster. CSS provides direct services to an average of 400 individuals daily through day programs and 24-hour services.
Calvo told the group of journalists gathered at the presentation that the work that CSS does is very much in line with our Catholic identity and call to help the least of our brothers and sisters.
“When we talk about what makes Catholic Social Service Catholic, it’s not only that we are a faith-based organization,” said Calvo. “But it’s because the individuals that we focus on providing help to are those similar to who Jesus hung out with when he was alive; the prostitutes, the outcasts of society, what society deems has being part of the hidden population.”
“In our mission as a Catholic Charities agency, we serve the total person and we try to provide to them what is the positive aspects of life despite their barriers and to focus on developing their spirituality, their physical and emotional growth and to allow them to heal from any kind of abuse and neglect,” said Calvo.
Their mission includes helping their clients find the road to recovery and to gain self-confidence and self-reliance she added.
“The work that we do is sometimes intensive only because of individuals who have major barriers or multiple barriers,” acknowledged Calvo. “And in that, we have been very grateful for community support of both individuals, family groups as well as corporate groups and we’d like to thank pretty much the community of our island territory of Guam for supporting CSS over the past 38 years.”
One way people can help CSS is to donate to their program known as “One Love” campaign which helps fund the programs and services of the non-profit group.
Jones implored people to help CSS as it helps the most needy of Guam.
“This is a service that exists on this island to fill in the gaps that exist because either one, the government doesn’t have the funding or two, the federal programs don’t apply to Guam,” said Jones.
“This is the only safety net on Guam where, if you make a donation to the ‘One Love,’ program, you can have your donation affect the poor, the lonely, the homeless, the sick, the elderly. All of these different groups can be helped by your signal donation to this organization.
CSS currently has 226 employees and is sustained from service contracts, federal and foundation grants, donations and fundraising. Like many others in the community however, Catholic Social Service is struggling to adequately fund their services.
“We have to be real. This is not a sunshine period right now,” said Jones. “We are going through an economic strain and we really could use the community’s help.
“And our community – we are serving you. So we are asking you directly, if you are hearing this message it’s because you’re meant to. Somebody needs for you to hear this message and to go and please consider supporting your brothers and sisters in need,” added Jones.
“I guarantee you if you get involved with this organization you’ll find it to be one the most fulfilling things you can do in your life here on Guam,” said Jones.
“So when you are driving and you see homeless people or you hear about children in need, in your mind you can be able to say, ‘I’m doing something to help those people’,” continued Jones. “Even though I’m not giving a dollar at the stoplight today, I am giving my dollar to the ‘One Love’ campaign, or I’m giving $10 or I’m doing something.”
“So I’m asking you very humbly and I hope that you will hear this message and take it to heart and reach out,” said Jones.
Persons who wish to donate to the “One Love” program may call CSS at 635-1441.