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Catholic Charities goal: One stop for help

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 4/9/22

The goal of Catholic Charities of Bedford County is to be the one-stop for financial assistance, according to program coordinator Aricindy Castillo-Guzman.  

Located at 210 South Main St. in …

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Catholic Charities goal: One stop for help


The goal of Catholic Charities of Bedford County is to be the one-stop for financial assistance, according to program coordinator Aricindy Castillo-Guzman.  

Located at 210 South Main St. in Shelbyville, Catholic Charities provides financial assistance, food assistance, diapers, household items, personal care items, counseling, and linkage to other resources to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF clients) through the State of Tennessee’s Families First program.  

TANF clients are defined as families with children under the age of 18. For NON-TANF clients, Catholic Charities also offers financial assistance, food assistance, household items, personal care items, and linkage to other resources.  

“The overall goal of our program is for our clients to be self-sufficient,” said Guzman. “We want them to gain independence and not rely on us all the time. Sometimes, it’s not even about promoting financial assistance, it’s maybe about helping them with a goal that they may have in mind and how can we help them achieve that goal.”  

Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce will have a ribbon cutting for Catholic Charities of Bedford County on May 3 from 10-11 a.m. They will also be participating in the Juneteenth event on the square as well, according to Guzman, who has served as programs coordinator since January after moving from the Nashville location.  

“You can really tell when you’re making an impact on someone’s life, even if just something small, like providing a resource for them, or helping them with something big, like a payment,” she said.  

Guzman was offered the job after interning with the program last year. A Shelbyville native, Guzman is attending graduate school for social work at Middle Tennessee State University.  

Catholic Charities focuses on short term and emergency assistance, according to Guzman. Though they do get a lot of clients who call saying that their services are about to be disconnected that same day, Guzman said they cannot offer help that same day.  

“A lot of people do need financial assistance. They ask for financial assistance maybe towards medical bills or maybe paying loans, and unfortunately we don’t do that. We provide financial assistance for rental or utilities and even deposits if they’re eligible.”  

“However, we do want to get them in our office and get the paperwork in, that way we can help them out in the future,” she said. Guzman said they are trying to work towards a system that would enable them to offer same-day help.  

The program is primarily funded by the Tennessee Serves Neighbors grant from the State of Tennessee Department of Human Services. They use funds from other sources to serve their NON-TANF clients, clients who do not have children in the home or do not have legal custody.  

“We will be working on implementing the financial literacy classes again. Also, we have a partnership with Family and Children’s Services, and they assist our clients with health insurance access,” Guzman said.  

They hope to have a full-stock food pantry by the end of April. For now, they are providing clients with gift cards to grocery stores.  

Donations can be made online at https://cctenn. org/. Guzman said they are also looking for volunteers to help answer phones and maintain their office space. 

Catholic Charities of Bedford also does community outreach, through handing out flyers and visiting with other local organizations such as the Shelbyville Housing Authority as well as making connections with school social workers and Tyson Foods.  

“The overall goal for all of our family resource centers is to be like a one-stop shop for our clients. So, we want to bring in more partners, have partners come to our agency—maybe once a week—and then our clients can find all the resources they need,” Guzman said.