The Pandemic Relief Fund was formed in the summer of 2020 to help support the Sisters of Social Service during this time of great financial uncertainty, in order to help sustain the many ministries and life-giving needs of our Sisters. Below is a letter from Sister Maribeth Larkin, SSS General Director, Sister Albertina Morales, Director of Regis House, and Sister Chris Machado, Director of Holy Spirit Retreat Center. Thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration of the needs of our community!
Dear Friend of the Sisters of Social Service
It goes without saying that it has been an unusually difficult and trying time of pandemic, and we sincerely pray that you and your family are staying healthy and well. We want you all to know that although many of our ministries and services are shut down during this time, our hearts are open! We may not be seeing you in person, but our important work continues and the Holy Spirit is with us!
After five months of being shut down by the pandemic, we are reaching out to you as we are in great need of your financial support. Unfortunately, without the expected income we regularly receive from sources such as retreats at Holy Spirit Retreat Center, special fundraising events put on by our support groups, and other funds received through the camaraderie of our being together, the Sisters of Social Service and our many ministries are forecasting a severe financial loss we have not seen in our almost 100 years of existence.
We’ve completely redesigned the SSS website (www.sssla.org) enabling all visitors to easily learn more about what we are doing to meet the needs of families on the margins around the world, and provide you with important news and opportunities to connect with us
Our newly launched monthly email to our supporters and friends helps us stay connected and allows us to share fun and important news regularly
Aging Sisters at the Villa are thriving as we continue to be vigilant about their health and well-being while living together under one roof
Our caregivers, cooks and staff continue to be employed in order to maintain the highest level of care and cleanliness for the health of all who live and work in Encino, and to provide for their own families
Holy Spirit Retreat Center has met the challenges of the pandemic by taking many of their in-person retreat opportunities online, for you to enjoy. We have a full line-up of beautiful events coming this fall! Go to www.hsrcenter.com to find out more
Our expanded livestreaming capabilities will soon bring Sunday Mass, special messages and other forthcoming spiritual opportunities to your living room!
With important support systems and ties all around the world, the Sisters of Social Service are in a critical position to bring the hope of the Holy Spirit to people who are starving for assurance that they will be OK during this extraordinary time in our world’s history. With our new website, regular email newsletters and livestreaming capabilities, we will be able to touch lives, strengthen faith and offer reassurance to thousands of people. Now more than ever, it is a time to embrace the power of the Holy Spirit and spread it to those who need it most.
Like many non-profit organizations, the economic crisis that has unfolded has presented an incredibly difficult situation for the Sisters of Social Service. Since early 2020, nine sisters have either lost their jobs, or received significant salary reductions due to the pandemic, and expected revenues from the Retreat Center and the normal schedule of important SSS fundraising events have decreased. To keep our elder Sisters safe from the virus we have increased staffing of caregivers, cleaners and cooks by adding six new positions. In addition, the financial challenges faced by many of the people we serve as well as some of our donors, have presented the Sisters with a significant fiscal crisis. Knowing this, we have spent many weeks with our financial staff, development department and other advisors, evaluating our remaining budgetary situation for the 2019-20 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2020) and forecasting out the needs for 2020-21. The financial loss is compelling, and clearly symbolic of the times we are living in, which we suspect will have lasting effects into even the 2021-22 fiscal year. Naturally, we have taken many steps to reduce costs wherever possible, including minimizing energy consumption and unnecessary expenditures, and exploring liquidating other assets. The reality is, that even with carefully planned budgetary efforts, we will not be able to efficiently sustain our operations and important staffing needs beyond the end of this year
We invite you to make a significant contribution to the SSS Pandemic Support Fund.
With your gift, we hope to meet our estimated budgetary shortfall of $95,000 by September 30, 2020, the end of our fiscal year. Additionally, with the pandemic and Department of Public Health requirements expected to be in our lives through next year, we anticipate an additional shortfall of at least $785,000 by the end of fiscal year 2020-21 on September 30, 2021. All gifts are greatly appreciated, and are recognized as an outward example of sacrifice on your behalf. This fund has been established to support the following:
Increasing costs of supplying our ministries around the world, including Regis House, with important food and necessities for the struggling families we serve daily
As the school year gets underway, we want to ensure our many ministries around the world are safe havens for families and children, providing them with important resources, including Wi-Fi and thoughtful supervision, especially to be successful in virtual school
To maintain our higher staffing and caregiver levels, which helps our sisters at the Villa, and provides our staff consistent income in order to provide for their own families
To expand our livestreaming and communications abilities so we can connect with you and bring retreats, celebrations and important holidays and events right to your home
Our newly redesigned and revamped website, which has important resources and information about how to assist us in helping the poor and marginalized during the pandemic
We have confidence that the Holy Spirit is guiding us! And we know that you, our supporters, will answer our call to action in the most generous way possible in order to fill the gap left by the consequences of the pandemic. Should you have any questions, please do reach out to any of us at email@example.com or by calling Mary Hatton, Director of Development, at (818) 285-3358 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and your inquiry will be handled immediately.
Finally, we are all too aware that there is much suffering and hardship, and that you have likely received many requests for your generous support. Thus, we are especially grateful for your thoughtful and careful reflection of how you might be able to support us during this time.
May blessings of the Holy Spirit be with you!
These are truly unprecedented times. The Covid-19 global pandemic is unlike anything we have witnessed in our lifetimes. It is changing the way we live and has put the safety and security of everyone at great risk. This coupled with the current protests around racism and inequality, especially given the brutality and abuse of authority exercised by police and others across our society. We are being challenged to our core to examine the values which undergird the US as a nation. But there is good news…
The Sisters of Social Service have a special gift that permits us to make sense of times like this. We call it our charism, our calling, our special devotion to the Holy Spirit. It is that which assists us in navigating the future. In every new challenge, no matter how surprising or complex, our faith calls us to move forward with confidence and the knowledge that indeed the Holy Spirit of God is with us and there will surely be better days ahead.
The SSS work endures through these crises. At our retirement Villa in Encino, we continue to provide meals, health care, companionship, and spiritual support for our retired sisters. The House of Ruth is now embracing many new single mothers and their children who desperately seek refuge with us in order to be “safe at home”. Regis House in LA, although prevented from offering their normal after school programs, has widened its food distribution for neighborhood families and for the homeless since the beginning of the pandemic. And our sisters around the world are increasing their services to vulnerable people, offering food, education, safe shelter, and reassurance in these most frightening and uncertain times.
Some of the Sisters have joined in the peaceful demonstrations for “Black Lives Matter”. And all are supporting justice and equality in whatever capacity her health and strength allows.
I look forward to the end of the pandemic. I look hopefully to a transformation in civil society in the US as we attempt to reckon with the blatant racism and brutality which undermines the well-being of our diverse populations, and especially our African American brothers and sisters. I welcome the new challenges of Sisters of Social Service in our ministries with the poor and marginalized in this time of great suffering for all, but especially those at the margins of society.
We continue to be inspired by the healthcare workers, first responders, government officials and everyday citizens who work hard every day to contain the virus and keep us safe. Please know that the Sisters of Social Service will continue to pray for you, your families and your loved ones, for the safety and health of all.