The Council of Catholic Women’s Partnership with Catholic Relief Services

In 1943, when Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was established, the main thrust was to help war-torn Europe and its refugees recover after World War II, their work focused on the resettlement of refugees. This doesn’t sound too unfamiliar today!

The Council of Catholic Women (CCW) began our long-standing partnership with CRS in 1946, which still continues today. The women of the council throughout the United States collected clothing for the “Pope’s Storeroom;” the clothes were sent to New Jersey and New York, where they were shipped to Europe to help the refugees. This program went on for several years until it was deemed not cost effective. After the store room was closed, CCW moved on to other programs

In the 1950s and 1960s, Europe had regained its balance, and CRS began to look to other parts of the world, seeking out those who could benefit from the assistance of Catholics in the U.S. CRS expanded into Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America.

During this expansion CRS built on its tradition of providing relief in emergency situations and also began to seek ways to help people in the developing world break the cycle of poverty through community-based sustainable development initiatives.

During this time, CCW programs also expanded beyond the collection of clothes.

Madonna Plan

In 1958, the Madonna Plan was established. This program’s aim was to improve the well-being of mothers and their babies through the education of the importance of breastfeeding, nutrition, immunizations, and proper care of both mother and child.

Today, the funds we raise for the Madonna Plan are used by CRS in the Child Survival Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Help -A-Child

The Help-A-Child program assists many children through family- and community-based programs with an emphasis on providing food and medicine, schools and training for teachers, healthcare and immunization, youth centers for teens, and help for disabled and vulnerable children . This program also addresses the issues of human trafficking and forced labor in India. It also addresses the needs of students who drop out of school and those who never attended school.

Water for Life

The National Council of Catholic Women established this program with CRS in 1978 after the NCCW International chair traveled to Africa and saw that women and girls walked miles to obtain clean water; they then had to carry it back to their villages.

According to the United Nations, almost 1 billion people lack access to water, while over 2.4 billion lack access to basic sanitation. Today, Water for Life funds are used in integrated water systems. They combine irrigation, sanitation systems and basic hygiene education and contribute to the development of stronger communities.

One particular example of our funds at work is the CRS Ethiopia’s innovative watershed implementations’ focus on providing community access to clean water and conserving natural resources.

Refugee Women Emergency Fund – 1996

Works of Peace Works of Reconciliation

The purpose of this program is to support projects that provide food, water, medicine, shelter and opportunities to secure future livelihood and income for women and children who are refugees, internally displaced or victims of natural disasters.

Today, our program is on the ground in Syria, where over 10 million people are displaced. We are helping to assist over 700,000 refugees with shelter assistance, education, food, medical care, hygiene supplies and trauma counseling.

The bottom line for all the programs is to help people move towards self-development and self-sufficiency.

How Can We Help? What Can We Do?




Give – 93% of what you give goes to services. Give to the NCCW programs. They are your programs! They are our programs!


 Catholic Relief Services is the official international Catholic relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It draws upon a rich tradition of Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching, which serve as the foundation for CRS’s guiding principles. CRS is on the ground in over 100 countries, touching over 100 million lives, regardless of religion or culture. Its aim is to promote and work toward true justice and lasting peace. They carry out the commitment of the bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas.

As part of the universal mission of the Catholic Church, CRS works collaboratively with local, national and international Catholic institutions and structures, as well as other organizations, to assist people on the basis of need, not creed, race or nationality.

The goal is to put our faith into action to help the world’s poorest create lasting change.