On the front lines with Catholic Charities of Cenla

By Father John Brocato, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Cenla

Catholic Charities of Central Louisiana (CCCL) has been very busy the last few months providing wrap around services for individuals in the Diocese of Alexandria. Last month we delivered 5 pallets of hurricane relief supplies to affected areas in Florida and collected over $10,000 to be paid directly to the Diocese of Venice. CCCL has provided over $100,000 in Hurricane Laura aid through the Central Louisiana Long Term Recovery group. We have also helped over 50 individuals and families with utility and rent assistance. We have exceeded expectations for a newly established non-profit. The above accomplishments would not have been possible without our two interns from Louisiana Christian University, Paula Johnson and Brooks Southall.
Catholic Charities of Central Louisiana’s social work interns are at the center of our program. Paula and Brooks are close to completing their first semester with CCCL. Their impact has not been felt more than in our Basic Needs initiative. Paula and Brooks work as Case Managers and provide assistance directly to individuals in need. With donations from the community they are able to assist people with funds that alleviate financial burdens with utilities, rent, or food. Catholic Charities of Central Louisiana has a grant with Catholic Charities USA to enroll Louisiana residents for SNAP benefits. Both Paula and Brooks are trained to help clients register for the supplemental nutrition assistance program.

Improving quality of life
The goal of CCCL is to provide “wrap-around” services that improve the quality of life for patrons seeking a better life. Two weeks ago a single mother of three made an appointment to meet with one of our case managers. Brooks met with the lady and listened to the myriad of deficiencies in her quality of life. After an assessment of what was lacking, Brooks was able to give her assistance with her utilities and learned that she was not registered with SNAP. After feeling comfortable with Brooks, the mother shared that she was illiterate and did not have anyone to help her apply for food assistance. Brooks was able to navigate the application with the client to get sufficient food to feed her household.

Meet the interns
Brooks is 24 years old, from Baton Rouge and who is a Graduate student at LCU, Pineville, studying Social Work. He played baseball at LCU for three years and is currently a Graduate Assistant for the baseball team. In May he will be graduating with his MSW degree and plans to find a job in the greater Alexandria area. After working in the field for a few years he plans to apply to the FBI to be a Special Agent. Brooks has said working with Catholic Charities has changed his life for the better. He is so grateful for the opportunity to be serving the community daily and looks forward to helping several more people in the upcoming months.

Paula is a non-traditional student, returning to school for her master’s in social work later in life. Currently she works for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs as a vocational rehabilitation specialist, where she assists veterans to develop a comprehensive treatment plan to acquire job training and placement in the community. A veteran herself, she has tremendous understanding and empathy with those she serves. She has been very active in National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Central LA chapter and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Paula is a mother of two and grandmother of four. When reflecting on her time at Catholic Charities, she found the work of the Long Term Recovery Group, where community partners help Hurricane Laura victims return to a safe and livable home, very impressive. Paula will graduate with her MSW in August of 2023 and looks forward to continuing to serve our veterans.


At the time of Thanksgiving, our Catholic Charities staff is humbly grateful for the gift of our interns.