The Napa Valley is often regarded as an affluent area, but beyond the vineyards and tasting rooms are working class and poor families who are hurt by the economic downturn.
Many of the breadwinners for the Catholic school families in Napa work in the service industry- and in many cases, both parents have found themselves out of work, Hickey said.
In addition, some of the Catholic school families are ineligible for unemployment benefits because of their immigration status, she said.
Hickey and Muth hope to provide tuition assistance to needy families through the Agape initiative, so that families in need don't find themselves forced to pull their children out of the Catholic school.
"Our Catholic schools are in trouble, and we really need to start seeing them as a mission," Hickey said.
"Catholic education in our world today is a critical necessity. It's not something that we should consider a luxury...if we want to change society, if we want to make sure that we have future pro-lifers, then we'd better make darn sure that we keep Catholic education going."
Another phase of the initiate will involve high school students reaching out to the elderly and lonely in the community.
"If we don't help others first, there's no way we can ever ask for help again," she said.
"Our moral obligation is to extend help, even in the fear of us closing down- extend help first, and then ask for help."
That approach has ultimately paid off- the school has received many donations since starting the food pantry, they said, even from non-Catholic members of the community who recognize the good work the school is doing.
"God will take care of us if we have some trust and faith in Him," Muth said.
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