Called Upon to Improve Lives

Called Upon to Improve Lives

For Matt and Susan Byers, Catholic Charities holds a special place in their hearts and for Susan personally, it’s a piece of a family’s legacy. Susan watched her parents, Richard and Karen Spencer, contribute their time and resources to Catholic Charities when she was young; she worked with her grandmother at the Catholic Charities Food Pantry, Loaves and Fishes, in Southern California for several years as a young adult; her brother, Steven Spencer, sits on the board of directors at Catholic Charities; and Susan herself is an active member and past-president of the Ministers of Presence Guild that promotes and supports the mission and work of Catholic Charities year-round through special events and volunteer service.

“First, it starts with a genuine belief in the work—really the mission—of the organization,” she says. “Most of us do not know what it is like to need food for our dinner table, formula for our baby, or a warm place to sleep. God has truly blessed my family in so many ways and I believe that we are called to offer our time and resources as generously as we can and to serve others with dignity and humility.”

As part of the work of the Ministers of Presence Guild, Susan is committed to representing Catholic Charities throughout the community and helping others understand the impact the organization is making on people’s lives. “I’m always surprised by the extent of the work of Catholic Charities—and it continues to expand!” she says. “They are about more than just providing emergency need. They are really trying to help improve lives for the long-term.”

The positive impact that Catholic Charities has on this community is evident in the eyes and hearts of those it serves. But that feat does not come without its challenges. “Like so many non-profit organizations that serve our community, they have to operate just like a business—subject to so many of the same costly regulatory requirements as for-profit organizations—but without the same types of resources,” Susan says. “Its ability to continue to serve the poor, shelter the homeless, offer financial management assistance, provide companionship for seniors, and offer educational opportunities is largely a function of the ongoing generosity of the community’s time and resources.

“Our community has so many charities from which to choose; it is now and will likely continue to be vital for Catholic Charities to make sure that our community understands the importance of its work so that we all continue to support the mission—but there are so many so many different ways to help. While financial resources are always appreciated, there are also a number of ways that each of us—including our young adults—can contribute with our time and energy.”