SAN FRANCISCO, April 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- During his 2015 U.S. visit, Pope Francis met with and acknowledged Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, for the ongoing humanitarian aid she provides to refugees and immigrants on the Texas-Mexico border. This April, Catholic Charities will welcome Sister Norma to San Francisco and present her with the 2016 Loaves & Fishes Award for Faith in Action at the 19th Annual Loaves & Fishes Dinner & Gala on Saturday, April 16, from 6:00 – 9:30pm, at the St. Regis Hotel. To date, Sister Norma's Crisis Relief Center has assisted over 32,000 refugees and immigrants.
"I am touched to be honored by Catholic Charities," said Sister Norma. "Many individuals we serve are fleeing horrific violence. Catholic Charities is working to restore human dignity."
According to DHS U.S. Customs and Border Protection, from October 2015 – February 2016, 23,553 unaccompanied minors crossed the U.S. border in search for a better life. Most are fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
At the Loaves & Fishes Dinner & Gala, Thuy Vu of KQED, a Vietnamese refugee, will be the Master of Ceremonies and will interview Sister Norma. This year's event will recognize supporters for their vital role in providing funds to benefit Catholic Charities services to refugees and immigrants throughout San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo Counties.
"We are thrilled to have Sister Norma in San Francisco and to honor her for the important work she provides to refugees," said Jeff Bialik, Catholic Charities Executive Director. "This year we hope to shed light on this vulnerable population."
One individual who received services from Catholic Charities is Rafael Lopez, a young man who traveled alone from El Salvador to the United States at the age of 17.
"I feared for my life every day because of gang violence," said Lopez. "My only option was to flee. Once in California, I feared being deported. If I returned to El Salvador, I would be killed. Catholic Charities restored my hope and helped me gain legal status. I'm safe now and I have a shot at life."
Last year, Catholic Charities provided aid and services to more than 8,000 refugees and immigrants through weekly immigration workshops, legal support, counseling support, shelter assistance, housing, childcare, and youth development. The Bay Area is home to thousands of refugees and immigrants who desperately depend on these vital services.
Catholic Charities' mission is to strengthen families and reduce poverty. Founded in 1907 and rooted in their faith traditions of charity and justice, Catholic Charities supports families, aging and disabled adults, and youth through social services and opportunities for healthy growth and development regardless of age, race, color, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status or socioeconomic status. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our website.
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SOURCE Catholic Charities