Catholic Charities’ CCHD Grants Reach into Diocesan Communities to Fight Poverty
One of the many privileges I have directing Catholic Charities’ Office of Social Concerns and Advocacy is getting to know firsthand many wonderful organizations and grassroots programs, with their incredibly dedicated staff, that are on the frontlines battling poverty in communities across the Diocese of Charlotte. This opportunity arises because the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) Program in the Diocese of Charlotte is coordinated by Catholic Charities’ Office of Social Concerns and Advocacy. This program offers non-profit organizations, including parishes of the diocese, opportunities for grant funding thanks to the generous support of parishioners who donate through the annual CCHD National Collection.
Thanks to last November’s CCHD Collection, our diocese was able to send $108,436 to the national CCHD office at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Washington, D.C., as well as sponsor a grants program with the $36,145 reserved for local use in the Diocese of Charlotte. The CCHD collection raises funds for these grants, with 75% of distributed funds going to support national grants and 25% of distributed funds supporting grants for non-profits in the Diocese of Charlotte. It is at this time of year, mid-way through the fall season, that parishes are gearing up for the CCHD National Collection, which is held in the Diocese of Charlotte on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving Day. The theme of this year’s diocesan CCHD collection, taking place in parishes on Saturday, November 21 and Sunday, November 22, is “Working on the Margins.” It is therefore a fitting time to share some reflections on the impact of CCHD funds here in the Diocese of Charlotte and how these funds help our brothers and sisters in Christ who live at the margins of our society.
This past spring, Local CCHD Grants were awarded to 10 poverty fighting programs in the following 8 cities in the Diocese of Charlotte: Charlotte, Forest City, Greensboro, Hayesville, Hickory, Lexington, Morganton, and West Jefferson. One of the programs was a program of a diocesan parish, and all nine of the others had ties with Catholic parishes through volunteers, fundraisers, and/or staff who were parishioners of Catholic parishes. In addition, all grant recipients received endorsement from Catholic Church leaders (e.g., pastors, deacons, parish ministry coordinators).
So how did these grant recipients fight poverty with the money received from the CCHD program of Catholic Charities? The answer is a mosaic of social action…funded program activities included: repairing homes of elderly citizens living on fixed and low incomes, and offering financial literacy education to first time homeowners in Rutherford County; laying the groundwork for employment opportunities for ex-prisoners seeking a new start in life in Catawba County; fighting rural food insecurity through a mobile food pantry van in Ashe County; fostering youth mentoring partnerships with faith communities in Burke County; and teaching computer skills and English language training to Latino immigrants in Clay County.
This year’s Local CCHD Grant to Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry (GHCCM) in Hickory, a non-profit supported substantially in its ministry by the parishioners of St. Aloysius Catholic Church, used its $3,000 grant to help renovate its thriving thrift store, a source of a good portion of GHCCM’s operating funds. “With this grant we will increase revenues, and thereby provide more crisis assistance, food, and basic health care to those in need,” states a thank you letter to Catholic Charities from GHCCM staff. The thrift store serves as a place for people to gain needed employment skills, as well as serving as a source for low-cost clothing, coats, blankets, furniture and household items for those facing tight budgets and limited incomes. Barbara Rush, GHCCM Executive Director, invites anyone interested in seeing the comprehensive ministries of this non-profit to come by and take a tour, but please call in advance to schedule a visit (828-327-0979).
While the focus of attention in this article is on local CCHD grants rather than national CCHD grants, I do want to highlight the results of a National CCHD grant in our diocese. Articles on CCHD appearing in our diocesan paper in recent years have shared the work of Opportunity Threads, a textile manufacturer and worker-owned cooperative in Morganton, NC, which received three years of National CCHD Economic Development Grant (2012, 2013, 2014). At the start of CCHD grant funding, Opportunity Threads had six employees and a little over $200,000 in annual sales. Today this cut and sew worker-owned textile cooperative, which aspires to be part of a North Carolina “foothills region” resurgence in textile manufacturing, now has 22 employees and is close to approaching its first “million dollar sales” year. Introduced to CCHD and supported by its community neighbor St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Opportunity Threads is a success story, providing a pathway for asset development for its workers and contributing to community economic growth.
PLEASE support the CCHD Collection on the weekend of November 21/22 in our continued efforts to fight poverty! Thank you!
[Readers are encouraged to visit the National CCHD web page www.usccb.org/cchd and its choc-full-of-information resource website on poverty in our nation, www.povertyusa.org. On these two sites you can find out more about the National CCHD Grants (both Economic Development and Community Organizing) Program and how it promotes a bottom-up grassroots approach to fighting poverty, as well as obtain substantial demographic and geographic information on poverty in the USA].
[Are you working with a non-profit in the Diocese of Charlotte that has a program fighting poverty which might benefit from a Local CCHD Grant (with grant funding up to $5,000)? Information on this grant program and the 2016 Local CCHD Grant Application can be found at www.cssnc.org/cchdcrs after December 1, 2015. The postmark deadline for applications being submitted in the 2016 round of grants is Tuesday, February 16, 2016. All grant applicants and projects are reviewed for their conformity to Catholic social doctrine, seek endorsement from local Catholic entity partners (e.g. parish, schools, vicariates), and participate in a grant review site visit. The work of reviewing and determining grant awards is undertaken by a seven-person Diocesan CCHD Advisory Committee who come from the geographic length and breadth of the diocese.]
By Joseph Purello
Director of Social Concerns & Advocacy