Margarita Lugo, ‘Faith-based Advocate’

Margarita Lugo, ‘Faith-based Advocate’

Margarita Lugo of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden, was recently honored at the Seventh Annual State Hispanic Leadership Summit Conference and Awards Gala.

On Oct. 21, Margarita Lugo of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden, was greeted with a round of applause when she was called to the stage at the ballroom of Rowan University during the Seventh Annual State Hispanic Leadership Summit Conference and Awards Gala.

Awarding her was Angel Fuentes, president of the Hispanic Leadership Association of New Jersey, who noted, “Progress comes through community efforts to enact change. The Hispanic Leadership Summit is an opportunity for Hispanics in New Jersey to strengthen our community by developing connections and increasing access to information and resources in order to benefit our communities and quality of life to our family and friends.”

Indeed, Lugo has been improving the lives of members of the greater community through her work for the past 28 years — first at the Diocese of Camden for eight years, followed by 20 years as a case manager at Catholic Charities’ Camden office. Not only is she a faithful servant to those in need in the diocese, but is also an active member of her church, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Camden, where she helps out those in need and organizes various drives.

Appropriately, she was recognized with the “Faith-based Advocate” award.

The awards gala was the conclusion of a full day of networking, cultural celebrations, scholarship awards, workshops and other activities open to the Hispanic community and the general public.

Lugo is often the point-person for helping the poorest and most vulnerable individuals in South Jersey get back on their feet during some of the darkest, most fearful times of their lives. She often does this herself by working directly with these clients, or she directs them to appropriate staff members and programs.

Clients who come through the doors of Catholic Charities seeking assistance often feel a mix of emotions, ranging from fear, desperation, embarrassment and mistrust.

But, as her co-worker and close friend Jose Sanchez noted, “Margarita has a remarkable ability to make every individual she encounters feel at ease, preserving their dignity, while working with them in a non-judgmental manner and guiding them on a path to stability. She recognizes that people have their pride and dignity to maintain. She does not judge anyone based on their indigence or because of mistakes they may have made in the past, rather helps each one to see a brighter future and a path forward toward obtaining it.”

Catholic Charities clients have often pointed to the sense of trust that they feel when confiding in Lugo about the difficulties they face and which bring them to the agency for help. Even staff workers have said that if they ever needed guidance, they would without hesitation seek out Margarita for counsel and assistance.

Also praising her was Kevin Hickey, executive director of Catholic Charities. “[Lugo] goes about her work in a humble, unassuming way. She radiates a sense of warmth, kindness, and compassion that people in need no doubt gravitate toward — whether they be her clients at Catholic Charities, fellow parishioners, or strangers who reach out to her after hearing about the compassionate and dignified way she goes about helping others. She is a role model, and a phenomenal representative of Catholic Charities, and truly deserving of the award.”

About Author