An epic battle of ill will between House Democrats and the Trump administration extended into late January as the longest partial shutdown of the federal government in history continued. Around the country rents came due and cupboards grew bare as the squabble went on in Washington. But in Catholic Charities offices around the nation, staff mobilized and resources were reallocated to support this latest vulnerable U.S. community, that of furloughed workers.
Catholic Charities San Antonio was offering help to all comers. “We have several cases coming, [and] yesterday we [had] many people calling in,” Antonio Fernandez, the Catholic Charities San Antonio director, told KSAT news. “The two biggest issues were food and rent. People did not get a paycheck on Friday [Jan. 11], so now they are struggling to make ends meet.”
In Washington, furloughed workers not used to seeking assistance were lining up outside of Catholic Charities offices to pick up $500 checks to help with food, housing and utilities, according to the Catholic News Agency. With no clear end to the shutdown in sight, Catholic Charities said it would help anyone who applies for help, no matter their backgrounds, race or religion.
Laura Bandini, a federal worker, has been through unwelcome furloughs before. She made the best of her time off, she told The Arlington Catholic Herald, by volunteering.
This time Ms. Bandini and other members of her parish, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Arlington, have invited furloughed workers to volunteer at the parish thrift store and food pantry. Ms. Bandini finds herself especially worried about nongovernmental employees.
“Contract workers most likely won’t get any back pay—cafeteria workers and janitors,” she said. “We hope anybody [in need] will reach out to their parish community for help.”