Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri (CCSOMO) is a faith-based 501(c)(3) agency established in 2009 and governed by a Board of Directors. We are part of the Catholic Charities USA network, which is comprised of 171 Catholic Charities agencies nationwide.
In 2009, when CCSOMO was established, there were two employees and two offices, one in Springfield within the Catholic Center which housed the Bishop’s offices, and another in Cape Girardeau. The first program was Family and Mental Health Counseling; and agency staff attended local meetings regarding disaster response.
In 2011, with the support of the local Catholic community, the diocese and our network of Catholic Charities organizations, CCSOMO faced the unprecedented natural disaster of the Joplin tornado and became a vital source of help for those who lost everything. This event catapulted us into action and growth. Within a year, CCSOMO became the largest provider of Disaster Case Management in the state of Missouri.
The Joplin disaster also revealed the great need for home repair and rebuilding and CCSOMO launched a new program named Rebuilding Homes/Rebuilding Lives. Ultimately, CCSOMO utilized thousands of volunteers in Joplin to repair 250 homes and completely rebuild 15. GoodFinds Thrift Store was also opened in Joplin and became a source of direct assistance for clients.
Following extensive flooding in southeast Missouri, CCSOMO opened an office in Van Buren in November 2011 to bring its disaster response work to that area of the diocese, along with its home repair program. In 2012, an office opened in Sikeston and we began offering a Pregnancy and Parenting Support program, Healthy Moms/Healthy Babies. Eventually, the Home Repair program was expanded beyond disaster situations to include needed repairs for seniors in Cape County, and for low-income families in multiple regions.
CCSOMO’s Housing Assistance and Homelessness Prevention program grew out of our work with disaster survivors who were displaced from their homes. Eventually, this program expanded to reach all those struggling to find and sustain housing and to cover all of southern Missouri. In line with our goal of helping clients achieve self-sufficiency, we also added Housing and Financial Counseling.
In 2013, CCSOMO adopted its tagline “Reaching Out, Providing Hope, and Changing Lives.” “Reaching Out” was especially chosen given the nature of our service area: geographically expansive (covering 25,719 square miles), largely rural with little public transportation, and with many areas of intense poverty. CCSOMO quickly recognized that to effectively offer our services to those most in need, CCSOMO must travel to our clients, not require clients to come to us.
When the need arose in two counties for an agency to assume the work of support coordination for individuals with developmental disabilities, CCSOMO stepped up, beginning the program in April 2013 in Scott County and later expanding to Cape Girardeau County.
LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home was launched in December 2013 when an empty Carmelite Monastery in Springfield became available. It was quickly identified as a perfect answer to the needs of homeless, pregnant women. At that time, our offices in Springfield were still located in the Catholic Center but we were quickly outgrowing the space. CCSOMO’s home office was moved to one area of the monastery and the remainder became the Maternity Home.
In late 2014, CCSOMO launched its Support Services for Veteran Families Program targeting homeless veterans and those on the verge of homelessness. This program is also offered throughout the diocese, and is closely aligned with CCSOMO’s overall emphasis on helping those who face housing crises and moving our clients toward self-sufficiency.
Our newest program, Construction Job Training, began in February 2017 in Joplin, building on the knowledge and experience we gained from our Home Repair and Rebuilding program.
Due to program growth and staff expansion, an office opened in Poplar Bluff in 2015, and second offices were required in both Cape Girardeau and Springfield, for a total of nine locations. In 2017, the number of programs had grown to 11 and the number of staff had reached 85.
In providing our many services, we never forget that at our core, we are a faith-based organization committed to answering Christ’s call to serve “the least among us.” CCSOMO along with our staff, volunteers and generous donors strive to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ, as we work to empower families on their path out of poverty.