We believe that through our commitment to Christ and His teachings, we continue His ministry of hope and healing to those in need.
At Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri (CCSOMO), we are a people of faith who seek to empower those in need to reach their emotional and economic potential. All of us—staff, Board members, donors, volunteers, and those we serve—are members of the same team. We work together towards a common goal of strengthening families and guiding those in need on their path to self-sufficiency and rebuilt lives.
What is Catholic?
As Catholics, we affirm that all life is sacred because all life was created by God in the image and likeness of God. Our faith also challenges us to be particularly concerned for the weak and most vulnerable. To follow Christ is to reach out in compassion to those in need.
It is very important to note the term 'Catholic' does not place limitations on whom we serve. The parable of the Good Samaritan challenges us to think of everyone as our neighbor. Catholic Charities serve people in need without concern for church membership. Typically, more than 90 percent of our clients are not Catholic and some do not claim any faith at all. We do not proselytize.
And finally, the term ‘Catholic' does not imply that Catholic Charities will only hire Catholics. The values we hold dear as Catholics are also basic Christian values, and in a broader sense, basic human values. Catholic Charities invites men and women who share our values to join us in our mission to serve others.
Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri (CCSOMO) is a faith-based 501(c)(3) agency established on July 24, 2009 and governed by a Board of Directors. We are part of the Catholic Charities USA network, which is comprised of 167 Catholic Charities agencies nationwide as of May 1, 2019.
In 2009, when CCSOMO was established, there were two employees and two offices, one in Springfield within the Catholic Center which housed the Bishop’s offices, and another in Cape Girardeau. The first program was Family and Mental Health Counseling; and agency staff attended local meetings regarding disaster response.
In 2011, with the support of the local Catholic community, the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, and our network of Catholic Charities organizations, CCSOMO faced the unprecedented natural disaster of the E-5 Joplin tornado. CCSOMO suddenly became a vital source of help for those who lost everything. This event also marked a long period of unprecedented growth, creativity, and specialization. Within a year, CCSOMO became the largest provider of Disaster Case Management in the state of Missouri. One decade later, CCSOMO continues to be a leader in this field.
The Joplin disaster also revealed the great need for home repair and rebuilding. Consequently, CCSOMO launched a new program named Rebuilding Homes/Rebuilding Lives. Ultimately, CCSOMO utilized thousands of volunteers in Joplin to repair 250 homes and completely rebuild 15. The agency was also active with other efforts. GoodFinds Thrift Store was opened in Joplin and became a source of direct assistance for clients. Following extensive flooding in southeast Missouri, CCSOMO opened an office in Van Buren in November to bring its disaster response work to that area of the diocese, along with its home repair program.
In 2012, an office opened in Sikeston and we began offering a Pregnancy and Parenting Support Program (named Healthy Moms/Healthy Babies Program). Eventually, the Home Repair program was expanded beyond disaster situations to include needed repairs for seniors in Cape Girardeau County, and for low-income families in multiple regions.
CCSOMO’s Housing Assistance and Homelessness Prevention Program grew out of our work with disaster survivors who were displaced from their homes. Eventually, this program expanded to cover all of southern Missouri and reach all those struggling to find and sustain. In line with our goal of helping clients achieve self-sufficiency, we also added a Housing and Financial Counseling Program.
In 2013, CCSOMO adopted its tagline “Reaching Out, Providing Hope, and Changing Lives.” “Reaching Out” was especially chosen given the nature of our service area: geographically expansive (covering 25,719 square miles), largely rural with little public transportation, and with many areas of intense poverty. CCSOMO quickly recognized that to effectively offer our services to those most in need, CCSOMO must travel to our clients, not require clients to come to us.
When the need arose in two counties for an agency to assume the work of Support Coordination for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities, CCSOMO stepped up, beginning the program in April 2013 in Scott County and later expanding it to Cape Girardeau County.
LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Home was launched in December 2013 when an empty Carmelite Monastery in Springfield became available. It was quickly identified as a perfect answer to the needs of homeless, pregnant women. At that time, our offices in Springfield were still located in the Catholic Center but we were quickly outgrowing the space. CCSOMO’s home office was moved to one area of the monastery and the remainder became the crisis maternity home, LifeHouse.
In late 2014, CCSOMO launched its Support Services for Veteran Families Program targeting homeless veterans and people on the verge of homelessness. This program is offered throughout the diocese and is closely aligned with CCSOMO’s overall emphases on helping individuals and families who face housing crises and moving our clients toward self-sufficiency.
CCSOMO reached out to Joplin again with its Construction On-Job-Training Program launched on February 2017. This program builds on the knowledge and experience we gained from our Home Repair and Rebuilding Program.
Due to program growth and staff expansion, an office opened in Poplar Bluff in 2015, and second offices were required in both Cape Girardeau and Springfield, for a total of nine office locations.
In 2018, CCSOMO acquired Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Ozarks in Springfield (CCCS), as part of CCSOMO’s social enterprise initiative. CCCS is a 501(c)(3) agency that provides debt management and financial wellness programs. CCSOMO’s mission is to lead clients to self-sufficiency whenever possible. CCCS’ services are seen as contributing to that mission and the ongoing endeavor to serve clients’ needs for overall wellness.
The agency continues to grow as it enters its second decade of operation. As of May 2019, CCSOMO is currently undergoing an accreditation process through the Council on Accreditation. Their seal of approval would recognize CCSOMO’s use of best practices for nonprofit charities. COA accreditation is expected to facilitate grant funding and signal to the world CCSOMO’s long-term viability. It is worth noting that the receipt of this accreditation was envisioned since the founding of CCSOMO. The agency’s tenth anniversary marks an ideal time to obtain national accreditation. That anniversary will be celebrated on July 24, 2019, and through 2020. Currently, CCSOMO offers 11 programs, and staff numbers 92. Plans are underway to construct a second LifeHouse in Cape Girardeau.
In providing our many services, we never forget that at our core, we are a faith-based organization committed to answering Christ’s call to serve “the least among us.” CCSOMO along with our staff, volunteers, and generous donors strive to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ, as we work to empower families on their path out of poverty.