St. Teresa inspires work today Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Sep. 15, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

When we think of the work of St. Teresa (or Mother Teresa as we’ll always know her), we remember her helping the poor, sick, and homeless people in the slums of Calcutta.

But do we realize that there are poor and homeless people right in our own communities? It was shocking for me to read about poverty in our own state in a report issued by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of  Wisconsin-Madison.

People living in poverty

According to statistics, 13.2 percent of Wisconsin residents, on average, are poor. However, 18.3 percent of Wisconsin children under age 18 live in poverty. Digging deeper, I found that the poverty rate for African Americans in our state is 36.3 percent, which is 10.5 percentage points higher than the national rate!

Dane County itself has 12.8 percent of its people living in poverty. That’s in a county that has a low unemployment rate. Poverty leads to people being hungry, homeless, unemployed, and not having access to medical care.

Helping those in need

So what can we do to help those living in poverty? One way is through our support of Catholic Charities Madison, which has entered into a new partnership with Dane County to operate a homeless day resource center. The new center will open in the summer of 2017.

In the meantime, Catholic Charities is partnering with Bethel Lutheran Church in downtown Madison to operate a Winter Day Resource Center at the church.

The resource centers will connect people with jobs, housing, and other services that are available to help the most vulnerable in our community.

Sometimes we may feel it’s impossible to change our society. Mother Teresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

Inspired by St. Teresa, Catholic Charities will be providing many “drops” in the ocean, and we can be part of that effort by partnering with them in this exciting new endeavor.