Changing Charity from Toxic to Transformative

Celebrate 100 years in Mansfield with Nationally Renowned Author Robert Lupton

This October, Catholic Charities will celebrate 100 years of service by bringing author Robert Lupton to Mansfield to challenge the understanding of charity in the community and surrounding area. Lupton will speak at three Do Something events in Mansfield including a youth rally at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on October 26, a workshop for professionals on October 27 and an evening wine and cheese fundraiser also on October 27.

bobphoto1Lupton is most notable for his latest publication, Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, and How to Reverse It. He has worked for 40 years in inner-city Atlanta rebuilding urban neighborhoods where families can flourish and children can grow into healthy adults. He is the founder of FCS Urban Ministries, a non-profit organization that developed two mixed income subdivisions, organized a multi-racial congregation, started businesses and initiated a wide range of human services.

Catholic Charities staff members Rebecca Owens and Roxanne Sandles heard Lupton speak at an event in Cleveland. Impressed with Lupton’s service philosophy, they started a book club in Mansfield and read Toxic Charity with other service agencies in the community in August 2013. After the group finished reading the book, they reconvened at the beginning of 2014 to take action based on Lupton’s principals.

“Toxic Charity’s motto is about helping people help themselves,” says Rebecca Owens, Mansfield Site Manager.

Lupton challenges charities and individuals to examine whether their assistance is creating dependency on aid. In his book, he shares about a church mission group that built a water well for a remote village in Honduras. When the group returned a year later, women were caring water for miles because the pump had broken and the villagers didn’t know how to fix it. The group fixed the pump for them. Each year the group returned, the scenario was repeated.

Lupton contrasts this with a group who helped a Nicaraguan village build a well through involving villagers in creating a business plan, obtaining an affordable loan, building the well and setting up a water commission to maintain it.

“When relief does not transition to development in a timely manner, compassion becomes toxic,” Lupton writes. He also, “When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves, we disempower them.”

Catholic Charities’ Do Something events are intended to bring communities together for a discussion on how to best help people locally.

“Our ultimate goal is to help the community realize it’s not just the government or the non-profits who are helping people. Everybody has a role whether you are a donor, funder, volunteer or someone seeking assistance,” Rebecca adds.

The title of the events came from a song by Matthew West called Do Something. In the song, Matthew asks God why he doesn’t do more about the poverty and suffering in the world. God responds by saying, “I did, I created you.”

For more information about the events, please visit or call contact Cheryl Dix at 419-524-0733, ext. 224 or

Our Mission

Catholic Charities makes real the love God has for each individual regardless of faith or background, by serving the poor, speaking for and assisting the neglected and forgotten, respecting and promoting life from beginning to end, and nurturing and supporting individuals and families.

Catholic Charities Northwest Ohio