Catholic Charities relief effort for victims of Gulf oil spill running out of funds

Catholic Charities workers prepare to help oil spill victims. Credit:
Catholic Charities workers prepare to help oil spill victims. Credit:


Efforts to help those affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill are running out of funds, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans has said in an urgent appeal. So far the charity’s action has helped almost 20,000 people for 90 days, but financial resources are almost “exhausted.”

Relief services have been provided along the coast at nine sites at a cost of over $100,000 per week.

“We are now spending our meager reserves to assist fishermen and fishing communities affected by the spill. We will not waver in our commitment to the people,” Catholic Charities co-president Gordon Wadge stated on August 3. “We believe supporters locally and nationally will come through for us and enable us to continue to provide the quality services that have allowed so many to cope and keep their lives together.”

Catholic Charities reported that the oil company BP provided $1.1 million in funding on May 18 for 30 days of service. The oil company approached the charitable agency because it was already delivering services and because BP believed its emergency response model was effective.

The charity said it worked closely with BP outreach staff and “leveraged” the corporation’s initial contribution to provide 60 days of service. However, its $1.8 million in funding, which included contributions from individuals and foundations, is now “exhausted.”

Catholic Charities co-president Jim Kelly reported that in late June the agency submitted a request to BP for $12 million in additional funding to serve seven civil parishes in coastal Louisiana. BP has discussed funding of necessary services in meetings with officials from affected states.

“The real danger is that our ability to put food on people’s tables, to counsel those in need, and to pay outstanding bills for fishing families with no income could come to an end,” Kelly added. “We have a covenant with these brave and hard working people, but our work is not sustainable without new funding.”

The charity reports it has provided emergency assistance to 19,577 people, including 7,960 families. It has distributed almost $600,000 in food vouchers and almost $79,000 in emergency food boxes from its affiliated ministry Second Harvest Food Bank. The food bank itself has distributed over 300,000 meals.

Other aid includes more than 1,000 packages of diapers and nearly $194,000 in other direct assistance and baby supplies to families. Mental health crisis counselors have also counseled over 6,000 people.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans is accepting donations at its website,

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