By Katie Hinerman Klug, CCWVa Marketing Communications Specialist In addition to providing direct assistance to those in need, Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa) also engages the youth in West Virginia through learning about poverty, its root causes, and efforts to effect change. Through this year’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) “Rebuilding Together at the Margins” art contest, CCWVa engaged students in grades 7-12 to reflect on the vast disparities in our world, and how many of those disparities were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Joseph Central Catholic High School (Huntington) student Elexis Spurlock authored a poem addressing the struggles of homelessness. In Spurlock’s piece, the person experiencing homelessness only finds escape by going to sleep and dreaming. “Faith isn’t just complete trust in God; it can be complete trust within yourself and others,” said Spurlock. “I think when going about this [effecting change] in a communal way, we need to have faith in one another.” With faith in both God and in one another, CCWVa works with people in poverty to find long-term, sustainable solutions. “At Catholic Charities, we meet each person or family where they are, and we build relationships and provide guidance to empower them to reach their goals,” said Beth Zarate, CCWVa president and chief executive officer. One of these families is that of Katherine Elliott, who found herself without a home for her family, including her 1-year old daughter and her boyfriend, JR, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because Katherine had a child, she did not qualify to stay at local homeless shelters without being separated from her child. However, the Catholic Charities Hospitality House in Wheeling provided transitional housing for her and her family for several months. The Hospitality House enabled the family to stay intact under one roof, while receiving intensive case management services and learning about budgeting and saving money. “The house was a life saver,” said Elliott. “In the midst of COVID, with a child, it made everything so much better. I don’t know where I would’ve been without it.” CCWVa Case Manager Joe Sparksman met with Elliott weekly during her time at the Hospitality House. “Joe was our mentor. He helped walk us through everything, set us up with the programs we needed to get our life straight,” said Elliott. “We were able to save and pay our first month’s rent at a [new] house they [CCWVa] connected us with through the Homeless Coalition.” Elliott and her family are thriving in their new home and continuing to work toward their goals. Read more about their journey and read Spurlock’s full poem at www.Catholic The Mission of Catholic Charities West Virginia: Guided by God’s love, Catholic Charities collaborates with community partners, parishes and families to provide caring and compassionate services to people in need and work toward lasting and meaningful change.

Courtesy Photo Katherine Elliott (left), CCWVa client/neighbor, and her daughter, Skyla Sea, celebrate with Joe Sparksman (right), CCWVa case manager, as Katherine obtains the keys to her new home after transitioning out of the Catholic Charities Hospitality House.