What would you call a social services agency that last year spent $52 million on youth, or housed 2,800 clients with the most severe needs in its residences, or spent almost $15 million on families and inspaniduals in communities across the five-county Philadelphia region?

You could call it “ours.” Every Catholic in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia shares in the pride that archdiocesan Catholic Social Services gives compassionate help and hope from the members of this local church to society.

Last year, according to its annual report, Catholic Social Services spent more than $114 million to meet the needs of all people living in the Archdiocese. Four major spanisions comprise CSS, including youth services for delinquent and dependent youth plus foster care and adoption; developmental programs caring for mental and physical development issues; community-based services such as support for families, seniors and teens after school; and housing and homeless services. {{more}}

Paying for all this invaluable social service is a gargantuan task. Funding comes in part from the Catholic Charities Appeal now being conducted in archdiocesan parishes.

But the largest source, more than 80 percent, comes from public funding. Since governmental program funding changes over time and as new models of service become preferred, CSS administrators must constantly adapt.

One example is care of dependent, at-risk youth. Years ago the Church ran orphanages for children with difficult home living situations. Today government money does not go toward those large, single-building institutions. The community model that features numerous small, “cottage” style homes is prevalent. So CSS cares for hundreds of young people through such homes in its St. Francis-St. Joseph Homes and St. Vincent’s Home, for example.

That funding source continues to change or diminish. In response, last year some of the St. Francis-St. Joseph community group homes had to close and reorganize into a more centralized configuration, resulting in cost savings and more efficient delivery of service.

Behind the programs and numbers are people: elderly people who enjoy a place to meet friends and a hot meal, perhaps their only one of the day; young people who find renewed confidence in their own abilities and God-given dignity; children who find patient care for their special needs.

This month is the time to call the Catholic Charities Appeal our own and support it as best we can. In so doing we treat the needy people in this community as our own brothers and sisters.