In 2001, Jim visits a Miami warehouse where Cross Catholic Outreach’s first shipments to Haiti are being prepared.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” the late Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, famously wrote. It’s good advice. And by that measure, Cross Catholic Outreach has steered a true and steady course for 20 years.

Since its founding in 2001, the “main thing” for Cross Catholic Outreach has involved empowering Catholic missions in developing countries to better serve the poor. Why work through already established Catholic organizations and ministries instead of sending Americans overseas to start new programs? Because it’s proven to be a cost-effective and transformative strategy — something Cross Catholic Outreach’s donors have appreciated because it makes their giving more impactful.  

Empowering the Already Present Church

When we started Cross Catholic Outreach 20 years ago, we’d already seen that wherever poverty was most severe, the Church was already there in the form of priests, sisters and Catholic lay leaders who were committed to bringing God’s love to the poor. 

These faithful men and women had — and continue to have — inexhaustible passion for their work. They also have a deep love for and a commitment to the poor communities they serve. All they lack are material resources. That’s where Cross Catholic Outreach and our donors, large and small, step in and supercharge the good work of these Catholic missions.  

A Bridge to the Developing World

This simple but highly effective model of ministry also creates a wonderful bridge between the struggling church in developing countries and the caring donors in the U.S. In this sense, Cross Catholic Outreach is a unifier and educator, helping bring Catholic brothers and sisters together so they can grow in faith.

We also believe in putting a high priority on accountability. From Cross Catholic Outreach’s beginning, we’ve insisted on providing donors with detailed information regarding how their gifts are used. We want them to clearly see how their generosity changes the lives of children and families living in terrible destitution.

As Cross Catholic Outreach embarks on its 20th Annual Fund Drive this month, those two principles — 1) working through existing church-based partners, and 2) being highly accountable to donors — remain firmly at the core of the organization.  

In the Philippines, the efforts of our ministry partners have always been an inspirational blessing.

Meeting Urgent Needs and Transforming Communities

The annual fundraiser now underway plays a key role in Cross Catholic Outreach’s ability to respond immediately and with vigor to emergency needs.

Most recently on August 14 when a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti — a massive temblor two times more powerful than the earthquake that devastated the poor island country in 2010. Cross Catholic Outreach rushed into action, delivering food, medicine, building materials and other relief to help survivors. That relief effort is still in full swing.

Another example occurred late last year when hurricanes battered Central America. Cross Catholic Outreach reached out to the network of in-country partners across the region. Through the network, disaster relief supplies, including high-protein prepackaged meals, antibiotics, medical supplies and hygiene kits, were supplied to victims in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Without generous donors behind the scenes, neither the Haiti earthquake nor the hurricane relief efforts would have been possible.  

Related: Disaster Relief Impact

Cross Catholic Outreach provides scholarships for children in Kenya.

In addition to emergency relief, the Annual Fund Drive powers long-term projects that will change lives for generations to come. Here are just a few examples of transformational changes — fresh water, safe homes and life-changing education — now underway in poor communities across the globe.

It’s hard to believe 20 years have passed since Cross Catholic Outreach began. Since then, millions have been fed — often for just $0.15 a meal. Poor children educated. Destitute communities blessed with fresh, clean water. And the gospel preached always, either with or without words. Here’s to the next 20 years of compassionate people staying focused on the main thing and working together for the good of the poor!     

Showing your support with a gift to the 2021 Annual Fund Drive is a great way to kick off the next 20 years.

Related: Cross Catholic Outreach 20th Anniversary