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Spotlight Report

$500,000 Yawkey gift to Catholic Charities

By David Abel, Globe Staff, 4/27/2002

Helping Catholic Charities overcome a cash crunch, the Yawkey Foundation yesterday announced it is giving one of the state's largest private social services providers $500,000 in immediate aid to keep five youth-oriented programs from closing.

Over the past few months, the taint of the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has prompted several major corporate donors to keep their distance from the already financially strapped charity.

The lack of contributions and the state budget crisis mean that for the first time in decades, Catholic Charities, an arm of the archdiocese that provides services annually to some 170,000 people in Massachusetts, is considering cutting dozens of programs throughout the state.

''In the midst of these dark days, Yawkey's support to Catholic Charities is a shower of sunlight,'' said Joseph Doolin, president of Catholic Charities.

Last year, Doolin's century-old agency ran a deficit for the first time since the early 1990s, spending $720,000 more than it took in. This year, with spending exceeding revenues by more than $1 million, agency officials finally decided they had to cut back.

Last month, officials announced they intended to cut their $40 million budget by 15 percent and lay off up to 200 of their 1,400 employees. Over the past few weeks, they created a committee to decide which of the agency's 154 programs to cut. The committee's list of potential cuts includes Sante Manman Se Sante Pitit, a 13-year-old program for immigrant mothers run by the Haitian Multi-Service Center in Dorchester. The program, which received $100,000 from the Yawkey Foundation to keep it running until at least July, serves hundreds of recently arrived Haitian women, providing breast cancer prevention services, parenting advice, and care for newborns and pregnant women.

Also saved - for now - by the Yawkey Foundation, are El Centro del Cardenal, a youth education program for Latinos in the South End, the Edwina Martin House, a substance abuse treatment program for girls in Brockton, and Roxbury's Nazareth Residence for Mothers and Children. The decade-old Nazareth program provides housing, medical care, and other services for poor families affected by AIDS. Without it, officials there said, many of the families probably would have to find beds in homeless shelters.

The Yawkey Foundation is headed by John Harrington, who is one of several prominent Catholics who have helped advise Cardinal Bernard Law on his handling of the sexual abuse crisis.

Catholic Charities receives more than half its revenue from the state. The balance, officials say, comes from private contributions, United Way grants, and client copayments. Less than 2 percent of the agency's money comes from the archdiocese, officials say.

Despite its distance from the church, agency officials say the current scandal has led many contributors to withhold checks. The agency canceled its annual Garden Party at the cardinal's residence in Brighton; last year, that event raised $1.4 million.

And recently, donors to Catholic Charities' new Laboure Center in South Boston decided to back off on $800,000 that agency officials were counting on to help cover construction costs. Some money from the Yawkey Foundation will support the Laboure Center, which provides social services to 6,500 people in the area.

David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 4/27/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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