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 share God’s love and spread Christ’s light by partnering with Catholic Charities. Because of our donors and volunteers, we are able to bring vital, lifesaving services to our neighbors in greatest need. Here’s Kathy Swift’s story:
Kathy Swift is not only the Board Chair of Catholic Charities of Oregon, but she is also a long-time donor and volunteer.
Kathy was introduced to Catholic Charities at a young age. She grew up in poverty that was caused by her father having a series of strokes when she was six years old. The strokes left him totally debilitated and her mother needing to take care of Kathy and her four other siblings, all under the age of seven, by herself. This was a big undertaking for her mother, and she wasn’t ready.
Catholic Charities was there for Kathy and her family, as was their parish. Catholic Charities gave financial assistance to her family and mental health assistance to her mom. Kathy says Catholic Charities kept her and her siblings out of foster care through the safety net it provided. “We kept housed because at particular points someone was there to help us over that crisis. I know how important, first-hand, the services are that Catholic Charities provides. It makes such a huge difference in a family’s life.”
Kathy and her four siblings grew up to be successful adults, all attending college and all having careers, but Kathy says it could have been such a different story. Part of why Kathy got involved with Catholic Charities is because she felt like she owed something back. In her words: “To give back to someone else that which my family and I were given.” But that’s not the only reason. Good works have always been an important aspect in her life and part of her faith, so she was drawn to Catholic Charities because of that. Additionally, she views her involvement with Catholic Charities as an outward demonstration of her faith.
Kathy grew up in a Catholic parish that really took care of its fellow members and that really emphasized that no matter how little you have, you have something to give. Kathy feels that her volunteerism with Catholic Charities is a good use of her skills and she says, “that it is part of the way I serve God is by using the skills I have to bring help to His people and to serve Him that way.”
Kathy has been volunteering with Catholic Charities since she was seven years old. She’s participated in everything from singing for meals on wheels and helping deliver the food to working with the nuns. She began her involvement with Catholic Charities of Oregon, specifically, more than 12 years ago starting as a member of our Finance Committee, a natural fit for Kathy who is a lender specializing in nonprofit finance. She eventually became a member of our Board of Directors and now is our Board Chair.
Kathy believes in the work of Catholic Charities. She says, “I just feel so much that Catholic Charities is doing great things for immigrant communities, communities of color, and for the Latinx communities that is important for our society to do. And we are doing it in a way that is respectful and honors those individuals. We offer the help communities need in the way they need it, not with a judgmental lens and not just to make ourselves feel okay with the status quo of the inequity we see in our world.”
Kathy has a message for other donors like herself: “Other donors should feel very comfortable giving to Catholic Charities because it’s effective and because they really are reflecting our faith. This is a worthwhile organization to be supporting and that’s why I support it to the level I do.”
Thank you, Kathy. At Catholic Charities of Oregon we wouldn’t be able to deliver lifesaving services to those in greatest need without people like you. You #Inspire Us.