by Penni Cannova
It has been said that we are the hands and feet of Christ, here on earth to carry out His work. If we witness this in acts of service, it is clear in the work of the Helping Hands Ministry. This ministry assists those in financial need with rent, or utility bills such as natural gas, electric and water, and considers additional needs on occasion. It also provides education to clients, seeking assistance, about resources within the community which might be able to provide further help. They provide spiritual encouragement as well.
The Harvester spoke with Kathy Calero recently about Helping Hands Ministry. The Ministry group meets on the first Tuesday of each month to discuss requests and outcomes, and assign cases to volunteers in the ministry. The group has an Administrator, a St. Isidore designated staff member, and a Meeting Facilitator who sets the agenda and leads the meetings. It also has an Intake Person, who retrieves initial assistance requests and assigns cases. An Interviewer will meet with clients and establish an assistance recommendation. The Treasurer maintains the financial records and reconciles monthly with the parish finance coordinator.
Kathy currently serves as the Intake person. As such, she checks the message line of the Ministry a few times a day and tries to call back right away, saying, “It’s very important to check and to not leave people waiting”. She conducts a brief phone interview to get a feel for the person’s needs.
She then passes the information on to the Interviewer, who meets with the client, usually at the parish office. If that is not possible, they meet in a public space. The Interviewer will meet at the home of a client only if the client is homebound, but in such situations, the Interviewer must bring a second person. The meeting commences with a prayer, after which the Interviewer will ask about the client’s gathering necessary documents.
Once the Interviewer has met with a client, an email is sent to the Ministry members stating the need for assistance and his/her opinion of how much should be given and the reason. When the Interviewer receives a majority of ‘yes’ votes from the members then the case proceeds to payment. The Ministry tries to accomplish this as soon as possible without waiting to meet
to discuss in person. During the monthly meeting, the group asks any follow-up questions of the Interviewer and each other and documentation. Landlord or the utility company is paid directly, and the Ministry will occasionally collaborate with another parish to provide assistance when our funds alone cannot meet the need, a practice called ‘twinning’.
Kathy added that they show compassion toward people in all considerations. The ministry helps parishioners but also will assist non-parishioners who live within the boundaries of St. Isidore Parish, understanding that helping our neighbors is our responsibility, as funds allow. They may only be able to help once a year, but to the person who needs it, it may feel just like the work of Christ Himself.