The Bishop's Charitable Assistance Fund

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The Bishop's Charitable Assistance Fund

The Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund: Life-Changing Hope

Story and Photo by Kathryn Marchocki

Henry often forgot what he ate for breakfast, where he left his phone or a friend’s name as his world clouded over from memory-robbing Alzheimer’s disease. But one thought never dimmed: his weekly visits with his buddies at the Day Away Program in Bristol.

He looked so forward to spending Thursdays at the social day program that he began dressing for it on Sundays.

“His wife would say, ‘It’s too early.’ But every week, he would lay out his clothes on Sunday,” the program’s executive director Sandra Coleman says. “Day Away meant so much to him that sometimes he would even double dress.”

Day Away opened in the fall of 2013 in space donated by Holy Trinity Parish to provide safe, supervised activities to upper Lakes Region residents in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia and respite services to loved ones who care for them – a 24/7 responsibility.

Like hundreds of non-profit organizations that are making a difference in communities throughout New Hampshire, Day Away got the help it needed from the Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund (BCAF).

“The grant from the BCAF enabled us to get off the ground,” says Coleman, a registered nurse. The result has been life changing for many participants and their caregivers, she says.

At the other end of the care-giving spectrum is Merrimack Valley Day Care Services in Concord. Formed as a non-profit child care center 50 years ago, the organization now serves more than 250 children, 90 percent of whom come from low-income families. Because of its sliding-scale fees, it can offer licensed child and infant care that low-income families can afford.

“Our philosophy is that everyone should be able to afford safe, high-quality child care for their children regardless of their economic resources,” agency director Marianne Barter says. So when staff couldn’t keep up with the laundry in the infant room, they turned to the BCAF, which last year covered the $1,700 needed to buy a second washer and dryer.

“It really made a difference to the teachers who were bringing the laundry home with them to wash,” Barter says. “Every bit of money that we have goes toward our sliding-scale fees. If I had to spend $1,700 on a washer and dryer, that is $1,700 that I cannot spent on subsidized tuition.”

Food pantries, youth groups, soup kitchens, health facilities, homeless shelters and substance use treatment programs are among the hundreds of non-profit organizations and agencies that received grants since the BCAF formed in 1985. To date, more than $6 million has been raised and distributed to people who turn to the Church for help during their most desperate moments of need.

“The grants truly make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need in communities throughout the state – people of all ages, of all nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, and of all religions,” says Martha E. O’Neill, an attorney who has served on the BCAF board of directors for the last 10 years and is the current chair.

(Editor’s Note: Henry is not the real name of the Day Away Program client. The name was changed to protect his privacy.)


The BCAF 2018 campaign is underway and will culminate with The Summer Reception on Sept. 6 at St. Pius X Parish in Manchester. Gifts may be made online at catholicnh.org/BCAF or by check payable to: Bishop’s Charitable Assistance Fund, 153 Ash St., Manchester, NH 03104. For more information, contact Melanie English at 603-663-0166 or menglish@rcbm.org