Supporters of Catholic Charities Saturday night raised more than $800,000 to finance the organization's work in resettling refugees and its other major programs.
The money raised by 1,000 backers gathered for dinner in the second-floor Portland Ballroom at the Oregon Covnvention Center is being matched by Leslie and Mark Ganz, of Cambria Health Solutions, longtime Catholic Charities backers. A Ganz brother is an Oregon Jesuit.
The idea for the annual fundraising dinner originated in 1998 with the late Theresa Willett. Her husband Ken, attended Saturday night's dinner.
The final “ask," as it is called in fundraising circles came from Archbishop Alexander Sample, who attended the dinner with his mother, Joyce.
"This is the easiest ask I ever made," the archbishop told the well-dressed audience, many guests of their corporate bosses who “bought" 28 tables for the fundraising dinner. Ninety percent of the money raised by Charities supports direct services to the poor; only 10 percent is held back to pay administrative costs like salaries, utility bills and the like.
The archbishop described the multiple assistance programs offered by Catholic Charities as an integral part of the New Evangelization initiative, which he squarely supports.
“Catholic Charities is the charitable arm of the Church," the archbishop told the group who earlier watched a video of a refugee family of Karen tribesmen from the mountainous hill country in Burma, near the border with China. Ta Bo Eay, his wife, Kler Paw, and their six children fled after numerous attacks by government soldiers in their village in the drug-producing Golden Triangle of Southwest Asia.
The family was greeted at their arriving plane in Portland and resettled with assistance from Catholic Charities, a legacy begun 55 years ago by the late Cecilia Baricevic who partnered with Father Morton Park to build a remarkable program to assist refugees from trouble spots around the globe.
The archbishop asked backers “to see the face of Jesus in the people who come to us for help."
He said the organization cannot solve all the world's problems, but it can change one life at a time.