Colleen Rowan Photo Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, left, and Msgr. Frederick P. Annie, V.G., are pictured with Beth Zarate, the new chief executive officer of Catholic Charities West Virginia.
By Colleen Rowan WHEELING—The new chief executive officer of Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa) wants to continue the great work that has been accomplished, and build on the agency’s foundation of compassion and care for the future.
“I’m coming in to carry on the legacy of Catholic Charities, and then to see where we can take it and what more we can do,” said Beth Zarate, who began as the organization’s new CEO Oct. 19.
Two areas of great concern for CCWVa that Zarate sees are the current opioid crisis in West Virginia and care for the state’s senior citizens. Giving the agency a larger voice in the opioid crisis is something about which Zarate feels strongly. Efforts, she said, would focus on helping those recovering from addiction to transition back into the community. “The depth of what we do is that long-term care,” she said, “building a relationship with a family and walking the journey with them.” Right now, CCWVa is looking at ways it can help with long-term strategies as a response to the crisis. Another area CCWVa is focusing on is West Virginia’s growing elderly population. CCWVa, Zarate said, is looking at its programming for seniors and a possible expansion of that programming in the future.
Prior to coming to West Virginia, Zarate served as executive director of the Mamie George Community Center in Fort Bend County, Texas, for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. From 2010 to 2014, she served as executive director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Lubbock, Texas. She also worked in Catholic Charities in Voluntary Management and Parish Social Ministry.
Charities across the country grow out of the needs of a community, Zarate said. “The similarity is this love of God and caring and compassion for others and our call to serve,” she said. “So, I do feel right at home.”
Since taking on the position of CEO, Zarate has been traveling to visit the CCWVa outreach offices and meet with staff. She recently traveled to Charleston, meeting with Lora Piece, director of CCWVa Disaster Services, which is based at the Western Region Office. She also visited the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center in Wheeling, where she stayed to help serve meals. In the next month, she plans to travel the entire state to visit all of the offices and staff. Zarate said she wanted to take on the position because she felt called to do more.
“Sometimes you just have a feeling God is asking you to go bigger and do more,” Zarate said. “I’ve been doing Catholic Charities work for a long time. I love this work. … Coming to Catholic Charities West Virginia is an extension of my vocation, and my love of this work. I’m hoping I can take what I’ve learned in the past and help us better serve clients and make a difference.” In addition to outreach, the role of Catholic Charities also involves helping people find their “Gospel call to serve,” Zarate said. CCWVa has a great connection with parishes of the diocese, she said, and this helps with getting people involved with outreach efforts.