Through Catholic Social Ministries (CSM), Edmundite Missions provides a wide range of social services to those living in poverty. With CSM, we approach each client’s situation with a sense of compassion and empathy. Selma, Alabama, and the surrounding Black Belt region come with a unique set of challenges. The Missions is located in the poorest county in Alabama, and Selma’s unemployment rate is 30% higher than that of the nation. Even today, unemployment rates in the rural areas we serve approach the unemployment rates of the Great Recession. The average income of those served by the Missions is $9,000.
At CSM, we work to confront those challenges and restore our clients’ dignity. CSM responds to social crises: families burned out of their homes, mothers of young children whose heat has been turned off, seniors whose roofs cannot keep out the rain, young men released from prison with nowhere to stay but the streets that led to their downfall, veterans seeking housing and jobs, emergency access to life-saving medications, support to the bereaved, and more. Through our partnership with HealthLink, a healthcare organization who serves those without medical insurance and also those underinsured, we work to ensure that all of our clients’ healthcare needs are meet.
Counseling and financial support are offered in Selma and in the rural areas served by the Missions, with an emphasis, wherever possible, on solving the root problems that led to the crisis to begin with. Counseling sessions are used to promote self-worth and map out the path to self-reliance. Our licensed social workers strategize with our clients, focusing on how to become an advocate for themselves and various ways to overcome the state of chronic crisis many of our clients are living in. CSM counsels more than 100 people per week and provides over 22,000 client services each year. Still, the need exceeds capacity. On average, 72 requests for assistance go unmet each month.
With the local economy in shambles and several nonprofits closing their doors in the past decade, CSM and the Edmundite Missions are often seen as the only glimmer of hope for those in desperate situations. We will continue answering the call and providing the joy and hope of Christ in the midst of life’s storms.