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A Message from Catholic Charities' Executive Director

Posted by | Deacon Rick Birkel, Ph.D.

Dear Catholic Charities of Oregon family,

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, Catholic Charities of Oregon remains a steadfast ally for our clients, staff, and volunteers. Since our founding in 1933, our organization has supported those in need through their most trying times to find stability and hope. Even now, we continue to serve our community and are adapting our service model to the changing circumstances.

Our overall priorities at Catholic Charities are to protect our staff, clients, and volunteers, slow the spread of the virus, maintain essential operations—including client services—and monitor and respond to the needs of our most vulnerable community members. In addition to following protocols from county, state, and federal health authorities, we have encouraged as many employees as possible to work remotely. Nevertheless, a core group of staff will maintain essential agency functions at our Clark Family Center.

Catholic Charities staff is rapidly and successfully transitioning to our new online communications, management, operations and service models. At this time, our service priorities are to provide as close to regular support to all our existing clients as possible, monitor our especially vulnerable clients—for example, seniors or immune-affected individuals, as they may be the first to require emergency services—and find new ways to help our clients and the community at-large as needs arise.

Agency departments have taken specific steps to protect the health and safety of our community:

Our Housing Transition Program (HTP) and Resident Services are doing welfare checks for both current and former clients, ensuring they have what they need to feel safe. The Drop-in Center remains open for food and showers but allows a limited number of people in the space at any time. Onsite staff also encourage clients to take food from the center to go.

The HTP Outreach team offers soap, hand sanitizer, and other hygiene products to people living outdoors. We are still in need of many of those items; please help us by clicking the HTP: GIVE TODAY button below to view the Housing Transitions Program Amazon Wish List.

Caritas Housing continues to provide safety and stability for residents in over 800 units statewide. Until further notice, we have extended a moratorium on late fees and evictions related to non-payment of rent for residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Catholic Charities implemented that policy across all of our properties statewide in advance of a similar policy announced by Multnomah County on March 17. Residents concerned about rent payments are encouraged to speak with management so we can make arrangements for their specific situations.

Counseling Services has moved as many appointments as possible over the phone, keeping face-to-face meetings only for those most in need.

Refugee Services is helping clients and their families find rental assistance support, scheduling appointments for medical care, food assistance, and unemployment benefits, ensuring clients’ access to health benefits through Oregon Health Plan, and speaking with employers to keep clients’ work hours as consistent as possible.

Kenton Women’s Village (KWV) support staff maintains one-on-one meetings and has postponed all group meetings until further notice. As much as possible, staff has also increased access to food and hygiene products. We are still in need of many of those items; please help us by clicking the KWV: GIVE TODAY button below to view the Kenton Women’s Village Amazon Wish List.

Save First Financial Wellness has moved all appointments, payment processing, and classes online and over the phone.

Immigration Legal Services has also moved all appointments and client intake sessions online and over the phone.

I want to personally extend my deepest gratitude to our staff who have dedicated their time and energy to help Catholic Charities remain a beacon of hope and calm for others, despite any hardship and vulnerabilities they themselves may experience during this difficult time.

Needs across Oregon are still great, and your help is essential to the welfare of our community. Please consider a gift to Catholic Charities to help us effectively address changing circumstances now and in the coming months.


For questions or concerns regarding closures, client appointments, and program updates, please call (503) 231-4866.

God bless and be well.


Deacon Rick Birkel, Ph.D.
Executive Director

View the Kenton Women’s Village Amazon Wish List

View our Housing Transitions Program Amazon Wish List

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