Anticipating its revenue will fall precipitously, Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington has laid off dozens of employees.
The layoffs, which affected 41 employees, were made as the nonprofit’s services are as much in demand as ever. But like many other nonprofits and private businesses, the economic fallout due to the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to gut Catholic Charities’ finances.
The cuts were made on Thursday and Friday.
In a statement to The Spokesman-Review on Friday, Catholic Charities CEO Rob McCann called the layoffs a “heartbreaking process.”
“This is a time of great need, great prayer for all those affected by this virus,” McCann said.
The 41 employees laid off by Catholic Charities represent about 11% of its workforce, and the reduction matches the cuts made following the 2008 recession. McCann said he hoped the nonprofit would eventually be able to rehire the employees.
Catholic Charities has 365 employees across its 13-county service area in Eastern Washington. Spokane County was the only to experience layoffs.
A donor provided funding so that laid-off employees would receive $3,000 if they worked full time and $1,500 if they were employed part time. The same donor established a $50,000 fund that impacted employees can access for help with necessities like paying rent or purchasing food.
McCann did not identify the donor.
Catholic Charities estimates that its revenue between now and the end of 2020 will fall short of projections by $2.1 million.
Much of that decline is due to the fact that fewer families are using St. Anne’s Children & Family Center for child care. The facility has seen enrollment drop from 225 kids to about 35, and Catholic Charities expects those numbers won’t pick up again until the fall. In the meantime, the center has offered free child care to the families of police officers and firefighters.
Of the 41 staff members laid off, 18 were full-time employees of St. Anne’s and 11 were part time. There are now only 12 full-time staff members remaining at the child care center.
About half of the cuts were made to administrative positions to ensure the nonprofit’s essential services are maintained, according to McCann.
Catholic Charities offers a number of social services and operates several shelters for people experiencing homelessness, permanent supportive housing complexes, and access to food for low-income Eastern Washington residents.
The nonprofit has set up a special page on its website to explain its response to the COVID-19 and ask for help. In addition to direct financial contributions, Catholic Charities is asking area residents to be “shopping angels” by filling a shopping bag with canned and dry goods and dropping it off at the agency’s headquarters at 12 E. 5th Avenue. It also has a list of emergency supplies, like diapers and hand sanitizer, it needs for its emergency shelters and housing units for seniors.
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