Caritas was established in 1967 by the Department of Catholic Charities of the Austin Diocese of the Catholic Church. Mr. Tony Rocha, a Catholic layman, was the first Executive Director of Caritas. He resigned in 1970.
During the time of Urban Renewal and the Model Cities Programs of the City of Waco 1970 - 1977, Caritas served as the emergency aid for families who were temporarily displaced. The offices moved from 17th & Washington to the basement of the First Presbyterian Church at 1100 Austin Avenue. Rev. Kenneth Solberg, former pastor of the First Lutheran Church, Waco, was the Executive Director from 1973 - 1976. Father Murphy, a Catholic priest, served as Executive Director from 1976 - 1978. After operating without city grants for a year, Caritas almost had to close it's doors. Bishop Harris of the Austin Diocese requested that steps be taken to make Caritas ecumenical. Caritas received its charter from the Texas State Department in 1978. Eugene Jud was named temporary Executive Director in October 1978.
In 1979 Caritas became an independent organization governed by a sixteen member board of local community leaders. Caritas became ecumenical and also interfaith, since it included members of Protestants, Catholics, and Jewish faiths. Dr. Jud served as Executive Director until early 2000 when he retired from a position in which he had volunteered for 22 years. Ms. Marge Kultgen was named to succeed Dr. Jud and served for about two years until the end of 2001. Dr. Kenneth Moerbe was then selected to assume the leadership of Caritas of Waco as Executive Director, and began his service in January of 2002. Buddy Edwards became Executive Director in December, 2008 upon the retirement of Kenneth Moerbe.
In 1980 Caritas took over its first thrift store managed by Esther Jud, and by 1981 Caritas had initiated the Food for People Program, occupying the basement and first floor of the old South Junior High School. At the same time, Caritas contracted with the Texas Department of Human Services to distribute surplus commodities.
In 1985, Caritas purchased the building at 318 South 5th Street with a matched grant from the Mabee Foundation, at a cost of $125,000. In 1985 Caritas moved its total operation from the First Presbyterian Church and the basement of the old South Junior High School to its new headquarters at 318 S. 5th Street. The thrift store, operated by the Ladies of Charity, was operated at this location. The Ladies of Charity Thrift Store was the primary referral source for clothing, furniture, and other items. In the following year, Caritas purchased the building at 3016 Bellmead Drive, which now houses the Bellmead Thrift Store. Finally, in November, 2003, Caritas moved its administrative offices, food warehouse, and Ladies of Charity Thrift Store to 300 S. 15th Street, enlarging its total space to 35,000 sq. ft. The Ladies of Charity Thrift Store has since moved to a new location at 3116-3118 Franklin Avenue to allow for a future renovation project at 300 S. 15th St.
Caritas assists approximately 100-125 families per day. It employs 30 full time and part time staff, and usually utilizes 250-300 volunteers a month. The operational cost of Caritas exceeds $93,000 per month, most of which comes from the contributions of individuals. Over 86%of funds given to Caritas of Waco are used in direct assistance for people in need. In 2011, Caritas gave away food, clothes, household goods and emergency assistance valued at over $11,000,000.