EUGENE — Catholic Community Services of Lane County helped a large group of supporters start their day right Sept. 21 during a breakfast at Venue 252.
For more than 70 years, the Catholic Charities partner agency has been a staple of support for people who are poor and homeless in the county that includes Eugene and Springfield.
“Catholic Charities network member agencies are doing great things,” said Natalie Wood, executive director of Catholic Charities of Oregon.
The event, called the Great Hour of Caring, kicked off with a song called “Neighbor” by J.J. Heller. The lyrics say in part, “I see my neighbor; may my heart be an open door.”
Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith followed with a reflection that explored the theme of “neighbor” in scripture. Franciscan Sister Veronica Schueler, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Portland and a board member, also provided insight into why and how Catholic Community Services provides critical services to neighbors in need.
Lorri Perreault, executive director of Catholic Community Services of Lane County, reviewed staggering outcomes from last fiscal year and unveiled the new Seniors Off the Streets program, which will house 25 seniors and prevent another 40 from becoming homeless by Jan. 10. Perrault also discussed the new OASIS Emergency Family Shelter community that will house five families at the Springfield Community Service Center.
Christine Zeller-Powell, Refugee and Immigrant Services Program director and immigration attorney, shared the news that 50 new refugees will be welcomed into the community.
Guests experienced firsthand how war and events happening a world away are affecting the community with the arrival of new neighbors like 14-year-old Zubair and his father, refugees who fled Afghanistan after the takeover of the Taliban in 2021. Zubair’s personal account of his journey left tearful guests asking how they can help these new arrivals to the country.
Zubair, a 14-year-old refugee who fled the Taliban in Afghanistan, speaks Sept. 21 at a breakfast for Catholic Community Services of Lane County.
Juliette Smith of KVAL television hosted the event. The breakfast included her Sept. 20 KVAL news video about an Afghan refugee named Toran Ibrahaimi, a third grader at Cesar Chavez School in Eugene.
At just eight years old, Toran already speaks five languages, and says his learning might help save Afghanistan someday. He hopes to become an astronaut.