We are fortunate to have extremely generous donors and volunteers who give their time, energy, support, and resources to Catholic Charities. As part of our donor and volunteer appreciation campaign, we are recognizing individuals and organizations who partner with Catholic Charities. Because of them, we can bring vital, lifesaving services to our neighbors in greatest need. Here’s Kaiser Permanente’s story:
Kaiser Permanente works to provide high quality, affordable healthcare and improve the health of its members and the communities it serves. “Our community health work is about improving the health of our communities, and we do that in a lot of different ways,” said Catherine Potter, Manager, Safety Net Partnerships, Community Health, Kaiser Permanente. “One way is by supporting community nonprofits who are doing good work in our communities, such as Catholic Charities of Oregon.”
Catherine continued, “We look at organizations that have a strong track record, can really show impact, and have a social justice focus. And those are all characteristics that Catholic Charities of Oregon has. Being so well established in our community, having strong leadership, and having amazing community voice and connections…those are all things that we consider to be really strong values for our partnerships.”
One of the biggest contributions Kaiser Permanente made to Catholic Charities of Oregon was through Kaiser’s Housing for Health Initiative. This initiative started in 2016 and looked at behavioral health, housing, and traditional health workers. From that came the Road Home grant, which Catholic Charities won in December 2016. “This was one of our first grant initiatives―or really grants of any kind―that focused on housing and making the connection between health and housing as a social determinant of health,” Catherine shared.
Catherine explained that part of Kaiser Permanente’s journey as a healthcare organization has been to spread awareness about the social determinants of health more over the years. “Even with the highest-quality, best clinical care that we can provide, that in itself will never be sufficient to improve health for our members or our community. 99.9% of the time, people don’t exist [live] in the healthcare space; they exist [live] in their communities. Our role as a health system, if we truly want to improve the health of our members and community, means we must shift some of our focus and resources to improving the conditions for health. Housing, education, people’s social connections, and relationships are the conditions. Without those being well and healthy, we’ll never be able to create health for our members and ensure our members stay healthy.”
Kaiser Permanente shifted a lot of its community investments toward those conditions. “We still support healthcare and access to care, because that continues to be core to what we do. We still need to focus on providing the highest quality of care, but we cannot focus exclusively there if we want to fulfill our mission. We have to invest in organizations that contribute to the conditions that create a healthy community…and we know Catholic Charities of Oregon is one of those organizations,” said Catherine.
In 2016 Catholic Charities of Oregon’s Housing Transitions Program (HTP), which assists in removing barriers to permanent housing and provides housing services to self-identified women experiencing homelessness, was looking to create a peer support model. Peer support specialists are individuals with lived experience who can talk with clients, build trust, and bring people into Catholic Charities for services. The Road Home grant from Kaiser Permanente helped HTP do just that
“With this grant, we had to look at the impact of using the Peer Support Program (PSP) model and working with people experiencing homelessness. PSP is a national model. This model grew out of recovery—people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction—but we wanted to look at how a Peer could help people escape the trauma, and move past the trauma, of being homeless. The Road Home grant funded us for two Peers,” shared Rose Bak, Chief Program Officer at Catholic Charities of Oregon in an interview about the importance of peer support specialists. Since the original Road Home grant from Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Charities of Oregon has been blessed to receive interest and support for this model through other grants.
Kaiser Permanente’s housing portfolio has expanded tremendously since the start of its Housing for Health Initiative. The organization has supported permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, and support for home ownership, among many others. Furthermore, Kaiser Permanente has invested millions of dollars into housing since 2016, and Catholic Charities of Oregon is proud to have been part of that.
Catholic Charities of Oregon has critical programs that serve people, regardless of their faith backgrounds, who have a wide range of needs, including housing, financial stability, and immigration legal assistance.
In 2017 Kaiser Permanente donated to Catholic Charities of Oregon specifically for refugee resettlement or immigration legal services in response to the political climate at that time. “We did a rapid response initiative in early 2017 to support organizations that were helping to address the needs of immigrants and refugees,” said Catherine. “We believe everyone needs to have access to quality health care, and everyone should have access to the services they need regardless of immigration or citizenship status. We serve a lot of immigrants through our health system, and we have a long history of supporting immigrant communities and community organizations, because we know they have typically been underserved. And we know immigrants bring talents, perspectives and values that enrich all of our communities.”
Catholic Charities of Oregon is also very fortunate to have had Kaiser Permanente leaders on its board of directors and represented on its various leadership committees, including its Housing Committee, on which Catherine previously served. There is no doubt that Kaiser Permanente has had a significant impact on the mission of Catholic Charities of Oregon to serve the most vulnerable among us. Its leaders have helped our agency respond with innovation, vision, and modern approaches that address the new and growing challenges across our state. Kaiser Permanente is a true partner of those in greatest need in our community.
Thank you, Kaiser Permanente. You #Inspire Us.