Catholic Charities of Central Colorado is opening its first office outside Colorado Springs in one of the state’s more affluent areas, but there’s enough demand for the nonprofit’s safety-net services in Castle Rock to warrant an expansion, a spokeswoman says.
“The need is there, the population is there, the desire is there,” Rochelle Schlortt said Friday. “We’ve been hearing from a lot of parishes in that area — we have six churches in that area — that we need to have a Catholic Charities presence up there, delivering services to an expanding population.”
The agency changed its name from Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs to Catholic Charities of Central Colorado about a year ago, but that was mostly to reflect its reach into a 10-county area that mirrors the Diocese of Colorado Springs. It was not a hint that Catholic Charities was planning to expand its offices, she said.
“There’s not a master plan to say we’re going to open an office here, here and here,” she said. “That’s not how we operate. We identify needs in our coverage area.”
According to the U.S. Census, 3.5 percent of Douglas County residents were living in poverty from 2007 to 2011, compared with 12.5 percent statewide. But that sliver of the population still needs assistance, Catholic Charities determined through a needs assessment.
“What we found is that, as that Castle Rock area continues to have a population explosion, there was a definite need and desire by folks in that area to have a Catholic Charities presence up there,” Schlortt said.
The operation will start small. St. Francis of Assisi Church in Castle Rock offered office space, and Catholic Charities will build on existing English as a Second Language classes with immigration support services. Catholic Charities will also provide food boxes, clothing, small appliances and other items to needy people.
“It will grow from there,” she said. “As more people realize what’s going on and what services are available, we’ll probably get a better handle on what the needs are.”
The office recently started operations, but a grand opening will be held May 7.