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Spotlight on Catholic Foundation Grant Recipient

By Sister Mary Tracy, SNJM

Spotlight on Catholic Foundation Grant Recipient

Fran Hailey, a member of the Catholic Foundation Marketing Committee and parishioner at St. Mary Presentation Parish in Deer Park, used her professional skills in journalism to interview one of our CF 2020 grant recipients. The 2021 grant application is now on the foundation’s website.

Recently, I visited Father Victor Blazovich at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Newport, Washington. Also present were Diana Barnard, MSW; Michelle Ello, RN, who is a public health nurse; and Chris Wagar, past president of the St. Anthony Parish Advisory Council. Father Vic’s parish program Persons in Need has received funds from the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Washington, as well as from the Lieb Endowment.

Chris, who was described as a “professional go-getter,” first proposed Persons in Need two or three years ago to aid a few individuals who were “falling through the cracks” of the local medical and social support systems. (One person was more concerned with feeding his dog than using what money he had to purchase medicines for himself.) Through the Newport Hospital, the three women had a mutual connection. Seeing the needs in the community, and after getting approval from the parish council, a small fund was established and Persons in Need began. The fund is managed by members of the council and Father Vic.

Although insurance will cover certain things when someone has a medical expense, there are times when unexpected costs arise, like when doctors want to conduct tests or treatment quickly, emergency dental service is needed, or someone must pay for transporation to a clinic. Clients who have medical, social, or mental needs and who have no other resources are referred to the program by email. The situation is always a “last resort," immediate need, where all other resources have been exhausted. After approval, Chris distributes the funds (which are capped at $100 per person) to Diana or Michelle. If the purchase of medication is the issue, Seeber Drug in Newport will provide it to Diana at cost.

The program serves approximately 8-10 clients each year. It is estimated that 35% of the clients are from Idaho, due to the proximity to the border at Old Town. Newport is a small town with a population of 2,200, with Old Town having a population of 201. However, both towns serve a large rural area, and Newport does have its own hospital. Diana, Michelle, and St. Anthony’s are well known in the area and especially by local support people.

Prior the formation of Persons in Need, and the receipt of funding from the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Washington and the Lieb grant, money to assist the individuals through the program came from parishioners, donations from the Knights of Columbus (especially the Jim Hines train rides project), and other fundraisers. Now, of course, most fundraisers are canceled or severely limited, particularly in Washington state.

In 2020, Persons in Need requested and received a $1,000 grant from the Catholic Foundation and a $1,000 grant from the Lieb endowment. As newly appointed Vicar of Finance, Father Blazovich now sits, by virtue of his position, on the Catholic Foundation Board where he participates with the CF trustees in building endowment funds that strengthen the Church in Eastern Washington.