The Good Samaritan Asks for Help

Posted on July 10, 2020

by Maggie McGowan

Maggie McGowan is the office assistant for the Catholic Charities Springfield Area Office, serving the residents of Cass, Christian, Menard, Morgan, Sangamon, and Scott Counties.

In late May, the phone on my desk started ringing. "Catholic Charities. How can we help you?" A cracked, male voice met my ears. "Yes, ma'am. I was wondering if you all did anything to help with medical bills? My—my mother's in a coma, and we just can't pay, and—and they won't let me see her." My heart sank. At that late point in the day, all I could do was tell him to call back the next morning. It didn't feel like anything close to enough.

His words have continued to haunt me. Strangely (yet not so strangely), they apply to our office in a particularly personal way. We know exactly how he feels.

"My mother's in a coma." Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, life has seemed to grind to a complete halt, and our office's main priority has been to support our clients through it. We're juggling countless unknowns and grey areas. How are we going to make it through this time? Right now, we can only take each day as it comes. What will our community look like on the other side of this? It certainly won't be the same.

"We just can't pay." Thankfully, we have secured a grant to aid our clients affected by COVID-19, so we know they're taken care of for the time being. But we have also suffered huge losses as major organizations pulled their funding. New questions have arisen — how are we going to keep up with basic functions, like building maintenance? Recently, we've discovered plumbing issues, problems with our HVAC system, and a failing food pantry freezer. Most of our contributions go directly to our clients (we are very proud of this!), so our budget is stretched thinner and thinner as we start making needed repairs.

"They won't let me see her." Due to COVID-19, our office is facing what might happen if we can't pull together the funds we need. Our annual fundraiser, where we get to see our donors face-to-face, has been cancelled entirely. Thus, our donations will drop because we can't show prospective donors the influence that donations have on an individual's life. Community Services Supervisor Robyn More describes this impact in action: "A guest approached me and Shawna [Harris, St. John's Breadline Program Supervisor] outside of the Breadline and was talking about how dignifying it is to be able to count on a clean and comfortable environment for people that are in need. It was so reassuring to hear this because we are all here to help the individuals that need it the most, and his comment solidified that what we do matters."

Just as in Scripture the Good Samaritan rushes to the aid of the wounded traveler (Luke 10:25-37), so Catholic Charities strives to bring our clients the food, shelter, medicine, and resources they need. Just as our clients depend on us, so we rely on the kindness and generosity of our donors. We need your help to give our clients a clean, well-kept pantry to pick up food. We need your help to give them a cool, refreshing place to sit out of the heat and humidity as we process their requests. We need your help to continue to be the hands of Jesus Christ in our community.

The man who called at the end of May hasn't called back yet, but with your help, we'll be here when he does.