Catholic Charities involved in COVID-19 response, help available

By Dan Russo
Witness Editor

DUBUQUE — Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque is involved in the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) in northeastern Iowa. The agency’s disaster relief ministry has been activated, and personnel are cooperating with other organizations to give aid to low-income families, seniors on fixed incomes and others. In addition to this, the agency’s other ministries are continuing with modifications.

“Catholic Charities, although our offices are closed to the public, continues to serve people in need, but in a different way,” explained Tracy Morrison, Catholic Charities’ executive director.

Counselors are using video and phone counseling to keep clients who need frequent support stabilized. Immigration legal services attorneys are continuing with their work on applications for their clients. Special measures are being taken to assist people in the agency’s housing programs.

“While some of our ministries have had to scale back due to this pandemic, our affordable housing provided to seniors and adults with disabilities have expanded,” said Morrison. “Ecumenical Tower is an 88-apartment complex in downtown Dubuque where nearly 100 seniors and adults with disabilities call home.  Many of these individuals also have serious medical conditions, putting them in a high-risk category. We are taking extraordinary measures to both prepare for and mitigate community transmission of COVID-19 and other viruses.  This can also be a very lonely time for seniors who are isolated from normal social activities that they look forward to.”

On March 17, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD) announced the creation of a COVID-19 Response Fund, with Catholic Charities being among its partners. The foundation’s board of directors and Women’s Giving Circle have already committed $50,000.

“We anticipate that low-income families and seniors on fixed incomes who struggle to make ends meet will be the hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Nancy Van Milligen, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “More individuals will experience food insecurity, and more will struggle to pay their housing, child care and transportation costs.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that the state would be providing financial assistance for workers and employers affected by layoffs due to COVID-19. For more information on CFGD’s coronavirus response fund, visit dubuquefoundation.org/CRF. For information on the State of Iowa’s assistance through the unemployment insurance program, workers can call the unemployment insurance customer service line at 1-866-239-0843 and staff can file claims over the phone or visit www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov.