"To love and serve our neighbors as ourselves."

Join the Fight Against Poverty in Our Region

Catholic Charities opened the Martha & Mary House last year to provide a safe haven for homeless individuals and families while they work to regain financial stability and find a more permanent residence. Having a place to sleep and access to meals at the shelter gives these families and individuals peace of mind while they search for longer-term solutions, like securing employment and finding a home.

This November 12th through 20th is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness of this national issue that affects many right here in our community.

Poverty and Hunger in Cambria County

The statistics in Cambria County may surprise you—almost 20,000 individuals are living in poverty, including 25% of children under the age of 18. In addition, over 20% of children are living with food insecurity.

Poverty by the Numbers in Cambria County

  • Population in Poverty: 19,846
  • Poverty Rate: 14.9%
  • Children under 18 in Poverty: 6,567
  • Poverty Rate for Children under 18: 24.4%
  • Seniors over 65 in Poverty: 2,151
  • Poverty Rate for Seniors over 65: 8.2%
  • Unemployment Rate (Feb. ‘16): 6.1%

Hunger by the Numbers in Cambria County

  • Food Insecure Population: 19,190
  • Food Insecurity Rate: 13.6%
  • Food Insecure Children: 6,180
  • Child Food Insecurity Rate: 22.6%

Homelessness in Pennsylvania

Though an individual’s or family’s circumstances vary, homelessness is most often a result of people not being able to acquire and maintain affordable housing. Estimates show that 16,200 people in Pennsylvania are homeless. They either live on the streets, with friends and family, or they stay in shelters.

The Martha & Mary House

Since opening in 2015, the Martha & Mary House has been helping Cambria County residents get back on their feet.

Danielle Bowers joined Catholic Charities’ Martha & Mary House in June as the director. She says that in her short time at the shelter, she has seen each houseguest bring his/her own unique set of challenges. Her job is to provide houseguests with basic needs while giving them the tools and resources to eventually become self-sufficient.

“To end the war of poverty, the local community, organizations, and local representatives need to work together to empower people to create the life they want for themselves and their families,” said Bowers.

The circumstances that bring residents to the Martha & Mary House vary greatly. Some have lost their jobs, lost a loved one, been evicted for failure to pay rent, are coming out of the criminal justice system, or have health issues.

“A lot of people we work with have no support system and have never had to do things on their own,” said Bowers. “By empowering and motivating them, we are helping them to be the best that they can be.”

Bowers says that she has seen each houseguest deal with their issues and grow in different ways. Here are just a few of the ways that residents of the Martha & Mary are taking charge of their lives:

  • Residents with substance abuse enroll in drug and alcohol classes.
  • Residents with mental health issues receive relevant services and obtain housing.
  • Residents with criminal backgrounds obtain employment.
  • Residents who had previously given up change their outlook and stand on their own two feet.

“When our residents leave the house,” Bowers explained, “we want them to be able to take care of themselves and know who to turn to if help is needed.”

How can you help?

In honor of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, please join our fight!

You can help support the residents of the Martha & Mary House—and our efforts to fight poverty and homelessness in Cambria County—by making a donation.

You can allocate your monetary donation to the shelter when you GIVE ONLINE, or you can make an item donation. The Martha & Mary House always welcomes donations of laundry pods, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and food.

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