Catholic Charities Report
Impact of CCNH
Deacon David Romano says that when he sits in his office at Catholic Charities and listens to clients describe the difficulties they are facing, the prayer he most often prays is a very simple: “Help!”
This May David will have been ordained a deacon in the diocese for three years and is also marking his first anniversary as a parish and community outreach worker for Catholic Charities New Hampshire (CCNH). His work in these ministries is a stretch from his day job as an accountant and corporate comptroller. Having first been called to be a deacon, he says he was feeling called again to extend the work of his ministry. “I felt like any ordination or ministry is a calling. Sometimes we use that word without thinking about it,” he reflects, “but I really feel called to do, to roll up my sleeves and work.”
This determination to try to put the teachings of the Gospel into action led David to CCNH. “I had been working for a small company and wanted to free up time to do more ministry. So I switched jobs and joined a small manufacturing company that only needed someone three days a week.” David spends the other two days working at Catholic Charities’ Lebanon District Office where he fields phone calls and assists those individuals seeking services. Most of the requests are for emergency assistance. “With the person who comes in needing financial assistance, you’ve got to imagine, it might be very embarrassing for them. They want to make the conversation as short as possible. It’s more like ‘I just need $300 for this car repair’ or ‘to get my lights back on.”
David finds that behind this particular immediate need there are typically an array of difficulties that have had led the person to have to reach out for help. “For someone who is struggling,” David says, “quite often their monthly budget is something that doesn’t work in any month. They live with this stress day in and day out. Their background is often one of trauma or chaos. Difficulties include parents being imprisoned, drug addiction or health issues.
“When I’m working with these individuals directly,” he admits, “I can get a pit in my stomach as I come to understand their plight. It’s often hard to know what to say.” This is when, David says, he finds himself praying “Help!”
And after seeking help from God, he offers it to the people in front of him. “I tell them I can help them if it is a matter of managing dollars and cents. It’s what I do for a living, after all. With some gentle arm twisting I am sometimes able to engage people in a conversation that takes us deeper than just their immediate predicament.”
Moving the conversation to something more than a simple transaction, he says, only happens if some connection can be made. “I’m coming to find that to help people you have to establish some commonality or else there is no basis for trust.” Outreach workers such as David and his peers, located in 10 district offices throughout the state, can work with clients on financial fitness, establishing life plan goals, mentoring and guidance.
When trust is built, Catholic Charities can then get to the reasons behind the emergency assistance request and can wrap its other services around clients, such as counseling, immigration services or a referral to OUR PLACE for parenting and pregnancy education which truly move their lives forward.
For David, being available two days a week to take whatever calls for help arise “is a privilege,” because not only is he doing the work to which he was called, but he gets to work alongside “people who have also answered that call, who desire to help people. To a person, the people I work with at Cathloic Charities are so caring and compassionate.”
The problems that people bring to David and his fellow workers at CCNH are never simple or easy to address, but the very willingness to do what they can, he says, “is itself important work.” He tries, he says, “to listen with empathy and heed the proverb that a gentle tongue is like the tree of life.”