Charity celebrating 2 gifts
• Photo gallery: Catholic Charities' new home
By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer
Today marks a double celebration for Catholic Charities Hawai'i.
A dedication will hail the acquisition and renovation of the charity's new home, the Clarence T.C. Ching Campus in Makiki. And the announcement of a $1 million matching-contributions grant toward Catholic Charities' "10 in '10" initiative will cap off the charity's $28 million building campaign by year's end.
The campaign so far has raised about $18 million.
The new 40,000-square-foot, 2.2-acre campus at 1822 Ke'eaumoku St. is on the grounds of the former First Presbyterian Church. The renovated facility will allow Catholic Charities to do something it couldn't do before: Take care of the 60,000 people it serves each year from a single location.
Until now, Catholic Charities programs have operated from five separate destinations on O'ahu. Since the various locations handle different programs, clients often ended up traveling from one place to another to get to the right one.
The confusion was compounded for clients who require multiple program services.
"It was just kind of crazy that so many were showing up at the wrong location," said Jerry Rauckhorst, president and CEO of Catholic Charities Hawai'i. "And a lot of our folks come on public transportation. So it's not just a matter of jumping back into the car and going to another location.
"And when you walk through the doors of the Program Center here, you now have access to everything Catholic Charities does."
The new campus offers seven facilities and 30 different programs, including services for immigrants, the homeless, women, children and the elderly.
Plus, Rauckhorst said Catholic Charities is also now capable of functioning as an all-purpose service clearinghouse, connecting people to organizations that offer services his facility doesn't provide.
He said the charity only recently learned of the Ching Foundation's decision to throw in an additional $1 million matching grant. Considering that only two years ago the foundation gave Catholic Charities a $5 million capital improvement gift — it remains the largest bequest in the charity's 63-year history — today's announcement seems beyond generous.
The reason for making a second major donation is simple, says Ray Tam, Ching Foundation trustee.
"We love the program. So, we're at it again."
Tam said the foundation's admiration for Catholic Charities stems from the fact it's nondenominational; that it serves anybody. Catholic Charities has been quietly working the front lines of the needy in Hawai'i for so many decades that folks have tended to take it for granted, he said.
"They help unwed mothers, abused children and spouses," he said. "They help the elderly, those who are infirm, down and out, and disabled. They provide transportation and shelter and hope. They do a fantastic job.
"So, when the opportunity came to offer our support, we were very happy to offer some financial assistance."
Tam said the charity should be more appreciated by the community for all it does. To that end, the foundation decided to inspire others to make a contribution to the capital improvement campaign.
Given Hawai'i's reputation for charity and generosity, Tam believes residents of the Aloha State simply needed a little nudge.
"I know that Hawai'i's people are very responsive," he said.