Essex County and Lawrence Catholic Charities assistance programs.

Self-sufficiency, basic needs, and emergency financial aid is offered by Catholic Charities. The Essex County Massachusetts organization assists thousands of struggling, unemployed, and poor residents every year. They also work closely with churches, other non-profits, and government agencies.

Not only can those so called basic needs such as food and shelter be addressed, but they will also embrace each family who seeks help. They will be provided a short to mid term plan to achieve self-sufficiency, giving back to them some of the choices that they lost along the way. Some of the more common requests of the Merrimack Valley Catholic Charities are for food, housing (rent and mortgage help), energy bills, clothing, and money to pay a heating bill. Other requests are for assistance in providing furniture, baby supplies, diapers, and holiday assistance. Many families who cannot afford a warm meal or food at Thanksgiving or gifts for their children at Christmas turn to their local church or Catholic Charities.

All across northern Massachusetts, Lawrence and Essex County there are food banks and soup kitchens. These are a staple of most Catholic Charities affiliated agencies and churches. While the specifics will vary by location, many sites offer free meals, food services, groceries, and holiday support. Some churches may coordinate special programs for seniors such as meals on wheel or congregate feeding sites. Find other free emergency food pantries in Essex County.

Help the hungry, children, and the working poor in the community is always a goal of the pantries. In general, provided the location is open and has resources/donations available, anyone who needs a free hot meal can come and be served. Prepared holiday meals, for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, are usually available and delivered to those in need. Always remember that many local centers rely on volunteers and donations, so please do contribute if/when you can. They provide people a way to give back to the less fortunate and struggling.

Catholic Charities specializes in Refugee & Immigration assistance as well. This is offered both nationwide and in Massachusetts. The mission to help those newcomers to the country that may otherwise be lost without guidance and support. Programs will welcome newcomers to the county.





Hundreds of immigrants, refugees, and migrants move to the Essex County region every year. Many are just looking for looking for a better life for themselves and their family. By offering a number of multicultural and also multilingual services, Catholic Charities of Merrimack can help newcomers adjust to their new surroundings and becoming active participants in their local communities. This can include help in applying for public benefits, finding a job, locating housing, and much more.

For all qualified residents, whether an immigrant or not, employment services are offered. A Catholic Charity case worker or specialist can provide clients with information on local employers, free access to a computer, and maybe services such as resume review and similar advice. Other similar education/job programs include Adult Education ESOL, federal government resources and related assistance.

The charity, or local churches in Lawrence, may have small amount of funds to help families in danger of eviction or utility disconnection. Or if you are out of fuel or oil during the winter, some money may be offered to pay heating bills. Regardless of the need, only a partial payment would be made and funding is very limited. Those Essex County residents at risk of having their utilities cut off or being evicted should call to inquire about resources and the application process.

Several other assistance programs may be available. They range from Refugee Resettlement, low cost Immigration Legal Services, Community Interpreter Services, and Refugee Employment Services. Of course referrals and information is always disbursed to anyone who needs it.

The Merrimack Valley Catholic Charities supports the entire region, including Lawrence and Essex County. Call (978) 685-5930.

By Jon McNamara

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