Allentown Veterans and their families who need help getting back on their feet will be the focus of a new program being offered by Catholic Charities, Diocese of Allentown, filling a significant need in Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Carbon and Schuylkill counties.

People who served our country proudly but now face homelessness or other hardship will receive a variety of services - help with rent and utilities, moving expenses, emergency support, transportation and child care.

"There are thousands of veterans in our communities who are at risk of homelessness, or who just need that little extra help until they find jobs and housing," said Pam Russo, executive director. "We're proud to have been selected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide these services in our area."

Catholic Charities - which helps people of all religions - already assists many veterans and their families through its on-going programs such as soup kitchens, emergency housing, family counseling, parenting support and care for the elderly.

This new, $175,000 grant will enable the agency to vastly expand its focus on veterans and their individual needs.

The new program will be coordinated by Ken Lebron, a U.S. Marine Corp. veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. "Given its long history of working with the homeless and vulnerable in our local communities, I am very excited that Catholic Charities is committed to helping veterans," Lebron said.

Catholic Charities will network with churches and congregations to sponsor veterans and their families. Helping veterans find jobs will be one of the top priorities.

Catholic Charities is a key community safety net, supported by grants and charitable donations from people of all religious faiths.

The agency's main goal is to help the needy, the disadvantaged and the most vulnerable become self-sufficient and productive members of society.

For more information regarding the Veterans Program, contact the Catholic Charities office in Allentown (610-435-1541), Reading (610-376-7144) or Pottsville (570-628-0466) or through its website at www.catholiccharitiesAD.org.