SALT LAKE CITY – When the coronavirus pandemic hit Utah in March 2020, the employees and volunteers of Holy Cross Ministries stepped up their work, taking many of their efforts virtual.
“We never, throughout the entire year, curtailed services,” CEO Emmie Gardner said. “In fact, we grew services because the need became so great. So many more people were facing potential eviction and needed rental assistance. Folks were having issues accessing health care because they were getting sick with COVID or have family members with COVID, so our services actually grew throughout 2020.”
As the effects of COVID-19 began to be felt communitywide, HCM was able to obtain grants through the Paycheck Protection Program and CARES Act that enabled the agency not only to keep functioning but also increase its services. Last year, HCM served 2,904 individuals and provided 4,318 resource referrals in 2020 — a nearly 80 percent increase over the previous year. Its therapists provided trauma-informed care to 250 individuals – an almost 95 percent increase compared to 2019.
Several of those employees and volunteers will be recognized by HCM on May 19 in a special livestreamed fundraiser, Holy Cross Heroes.
“This is our opportunity to shine a light on the amazing work that every single one of our staff has done over the past year,” Gardner said. “We also want to share some of the immigrant stories of our staff who have their own rich history and story and journey to the U.S. We really want people who join us that day to come to know our staff and to know not only the work they do in our community, but to understand a little bit more about them personally and how their own immigrant story drives their desire and passion to help other immigrants.”
Despite the easing of the pandemic, there has been no drop in the need for Holy Cross Ministries’ services, according to Gardner. In fact, the need for those services is greater than ever, she said. Many of the agency’s clients are essential workers, one of the population segments most impacted by the pandemic.
While the agency’s legal department has experienced a slower time due to the many restrictions on immigration imposed by the former federal administration, they are now gearing up for hoped-for changes with the current administration. In the meantime, HCM is seeing a huge need for its community health programs, Gardner said.
“The need persists; I wish I could say it has slowed down, but it’s not,” she said. “We know the need isn’t decreasing; we know we have funds that will take us through the bulk of 2021, but we don’t think the need is going to be over, come Jan.1, 2022. We’re really hoping to build that foundation so that we can sustain the work that we’re doing and potentially grow it even more.”
While HCM is working to obtain additional grants, funding for its programs remains precarious. Gardner said they have seen a drop in the amount corporate sponsors are able to donate. They are hoping that individual donors who are in a position to do so will step up their efforts as they did in the early days of the pandemic.
“The outpouring of love and support from the community was just amazing,” she said. “We would like the Catholic community to please remember our hardworking, dedicated staff who are reaching out statewide to really meet needs virtually for our immigrant community. Any type of support, however large or small, really makes a difference in helping us meet our mission growth as increased demand for our services continues.”
During the fundraiser, which will be livestreamed at https://www.hcmutah.org/heroes, all contributions up to $15,000 will be matched.