A History of Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Inc.
In the early days of Los Angeles, Catholic women organized a charitable society to provide care for the homeless and the poor in an area of downtown Los Angeles that was known as Charity Street. Relief was offered through soup kitchens and food pantries. The various Catholic charitable groups that were providing services throughout the city were formally organized by the Church as the Bureau of Catholic Charities in 1919. The agency was founded with the purpose of meeting the immediate needs of families and initiating new service programs as required.
When the organization officially became the Catholic Welfare Bureau in 1926, it served the extensive territory of Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange counties. It was incorporated in the State of California in 1937. In later years, Monterey and Orange counties developed their own Catholic Charities’ organizations.
The agency has had its current name, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Inc., since 1986 and is the social service arm of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. To most effectively manage the delivery of social services, Catholic Charities’ operations are divided into five service areas that coincide with the Pastoral Regions of the Archdiocese. This structure enables the agency to maintain a presence in communities with the greatest needs while sharing common resources and administrative overhead.
Catholic Charities strives to find permanent solutions to crisis situations by offering clients the tools and resources they need to achieve greater self-reliance and stability in their lives. Services are provided to anyone who comes to the agency in need, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age or religious belief.
Today, Catholic Charities operates 22 community centers and seven homeless shelters, as well as over 50 programs serving the poor including: food pantries; thrift stores; in-home services for homebound seniors; refugee resettlement; youth employment services; counseling; affordable before-and-after-school child care; immigration assistance; pre-school for children of low income families; and temporary worker centers. In addition, the agency oversees Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), which coordinates interscholastic athletics for elementary schools of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
During the past fiscal year, Catholic Charities delivered over 1.25 million services to almost 300,000 individuals, most of whom were women and children. Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Inc. is accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services.