A Compound Crisis for Those Living on the Margins

Changing needs for a growing community

While the relentless spread of the COVID-19 virus has reached every corner of the world, the poor and those living on the margins of society are disproportionately affected by it. Daily struggles to feed their families, fill their prescriptions, and secure transportation to doctor visits have been compounded by the challenges the virus has bestowed on our daily existence.

For so many of the poor communities that Catholic Extension serves, daily life is now riddled with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. However, people are answering God’s call to serve, and walking alongside and delivering hope to those most in need. 

Ministry on the Margins

As founder and director of Ministry on the Margins, Sr. Kathleen Atkinson of the Annunciation Monastery is one of them. This ecumenical ministry is committed to serving those who have fallen through the cracks during transitions from incarceration to society in North Dakota. Sr. Kathleen and her team have seen firsthand the uphill battles they face to get through each day.

Before the coronavirus, the organization described its ministry as “the kind of hospitality that is communal, revolutionary, and transforming.” They provided housing assistance, a food bank, resume writing assistance and other support services for these individuals in transition.

Now, Ministry on the Margins is struggling to do more for a growing community in need. They are not only providing access to essentials but sourcing free masks and cleaning supplies and securing access and transportation to free COVID testing sites. They have seen their numbers increase and are now serving more newcomers and families.

“Everyday life is challenging for the poor, but these days, an emergency need is just too much to handle. The immediacy of the need and the ability to support that need is crucial.”

Sr. Kathleen Atkinson, OSB

Emergency needs and little miracles

While hundreds of people come to the Ministry on the Margins food pantry each week, it is the emergency needs that have stretched the resources of the whole community to a breaking point.

Gas for a visit to a hospital, cleaning supplies for families who are living with a member who has COVID-19, and money for car repairs needed to get to doctor visits and pick up prescriptions are just a few of the escalating needs that Sr. Kathleen and her team are struggling to meet.

With donations and grants, such as the $1,000 grant Sr. Kathleen received from the Sisters on the Frontlines program, Ministry on the Margins is able to meet those needs and make a profound impact on the lives they are charged to serve. She calls these contributions “little miracles” and a game-changer in terms of getting their community through this extraordinary time.

“Sister Kathleen is a true servant leader … her work with Ministry on the Margins and their many projects and programs shows a great deal of innovation and creativity”

Dick Weber, Health Care Professional

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