By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — Each year the Catholic Campaign for Human Development awards grants to local agencies across the country that work to help the poor to reach toward bettering their lives. Five agencies in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph received grants this year to further their work with the less fortunate. A reception was held July 23 in the Cardinal Baum Room of The Catholic Center to honor the agencies.
Local CCHD grant award winners:
Healing House was founded in 2003 by Bobbi Jo Reed to provide women separated from their families due to addiction problems with a safe, faith-based, loving and stable home. Reed knew their feelings of helplessness and hopelessness first hand; she herself was a recovering alcoholic. At the time there were only about 30 beds available at shelters for the women, which was far too few. As a result, Reed described the recidivism rate as “phenomenal.”
In 2009, Healing House opened its first men’s home and a second in 2010.
“God has breathed life into our community,” she said. “Many of the folks who live at Healing House have never had a stable, healthy home. Most come from alcoholic families; abuse — emotional, physical and sexual — is part of their history. So the problems began long ago, and drugs and alcohol became their escape from the realities of their lives.
Today Healing House has six women’s homes, two men’s homes and two apartment complexes sheltering 80 women with 28 children, and 22 men. “Our homes are spiritually centered safe environments,” Reed said, “in which people who come to live can let down their guard from the harshness of the world. By providing a comfortable home setting, we see success in helping women and men rebuild their lives through sustaining spirituality, long-term sobriety and becoming financially self-sufficient.”
Healing House’s plans for the CCHD grant include job training and funding to help residents start up small businesses.
For more information on Healing House, visit www.healinghouse.org.
Dave Armstrong, director of Campus Ministries and Mission Effectiveness at Avila University, had led university students on mission trips and retreats to Nazareth Farm in West Virginia for more than a decade, so when, about a year ago, the opportunity arose to bring that work and prayer experience to Kansas City’s urban core, he jumped on it. Jerusalem Farm, a Catholic, Intentional Community, modeled on Nazareth Farm in Appalachia, opened this past May under the leadership of Jordan and Jessie Schiele, and their almost two-year-old son, Nathaniel. Jordan and Jessie were formerly project coordinators at Nazareth Farm.
Sponsored by Avila University and endorsed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Jerusalem Farm’s four cornerstones are — prayer, which begins and ends each day, prayer before meals and during work, as well as a professionally led spiritual retreat; simplicity: no cell phones, laptops or television, everything is recycled or reused; community: Jerusalem Farm is open to organized high school and college groups, as well as individuals and work or family groups for retreat, manual work experiences and bonding without the outside distractions of phones and TV; and service: simple home repair services throughout the neighborhood, asking homeowners to pay only for purchased materials on an affordable monthly payment plan. The Schieles plan to use the CCHD grant to start the home-repair fund “so that we may provide no-interest material loans up front to the homeowners who need assistance.”
Jerusalem Farm has only been open a few months, but they are already showing their neighbors that they are in fact, neighbors.
To learn more about Jerusalem Farm, visit www.jerusalemfarm.org or email Community@jerusalemfarm.org.
Migrant Farmworkers Project
A project of Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Migrant Farmworkers Project, directed by immigration attorney Suzanne Gladney, has been serving migrant workers who harvest the orchards in Lafayette County and the southeast “Bootheel” region of Missouri since 1984. MFP’s staff meets with the workers and their families as they arrive at the orchards in late summer to determine their eligibility for public benefits, medical and dental services. They also help them complete school enrollment forms.
From then until the migrants move on, MFP works to assist them with health and other issues and meet critical needs including food. “The migrants pick the orchards, sometimes 14 hours a day, all year long, but still they are hungry,” Gladney said. Migrant Farmworkers Project distributes food every Monday during the harvest and monthly throughout the winter and spring when paying farm work is scarce. Some migrant families settle in the area, and MFP provides ongoing assistance. Rural communities have trouble dealing with migrants who may not speak English, she said. Migrant Farmworkers Project offers English as a Second Language classes and tutoring.
Migrant Farmworkers Project plans to use the CCHD grant to help support their food distribution and educational (tutoring and Youth Group) programs, and other work with migrant farmworkers.
For more information on Migrant Farmworkers Project, visit www.migrantfarmworkersproject.org/.
St. Therese Little Flower Parish
St. Therese Parish has long been known for its work with the elderly and the poor of the Blue Hills neighborhood. Cristen Huntz, parish business manager, said “The basic human needs, food, clothing and shelter are evident. We want to help people better their situation.”
With the help of the CCHD grant and partnering with Holy Rosary Credit Union, the parish plans to offer financial education to the neighborhood. “We’re using a three-pronged approach to reach the residents,” Huntz said. “Those who come to the senior center, the students at Hogan Prep Middle School (which is housed on St. Therese property in our old grade school building), and students who attend Holy Cross School, they are the ones we want to reach now.”
The older folks who come to the senior center include neighborhood residents and some from other parish neighborhoods. Financial education would help them avoid the pitfalls that could endanger their security, even their homes, as they age. Holy Rosary Credit Union’s Don Good said the credit union has opened many new accounts with St. Therese parishioners. “We are partnering with older parishioners to help them receive benefits they may not know about,” he said.
“St. Therese is also partnering with Hogan Prep Middle School to promote good money management. We want to give them the know-how and provide opportunities and avenues for future success,” Huntz said.
The third prong, a program for students at Holy Cross School, will begin in September. Modeled on the BizKids program created by the Federal Reserve, the 6-week program, in partnership with Holy Rosary Credit Union, will teach elementary students about banks, saving money and other basic types of banking in age appropriate lessons. Holy Rosary has offered a similar program to older Holy Cross students over the past few years, with students serving as tellers for the Holy Cross branch of the “bank.” Huntz said St. Therese plans to eventually open a school branch of the credit union at Hogan Prep Middle School.
To learn more, visit www.sttheresekc.org.
One well-deserving local agency also received a grant from the CCHD national office:
Holy Rosary, a united Catholic Credit Union
Carole Wight, president of Holy Rosary, a united Catholic Credit Union, said the driving mission of the credit union is to help its member-owners with personal financial services.
The credit union, which merged earlier this year with United Catholic Credit Union of Raytown, offers all the services of a bank, “but, it is a Catholic credit union, working to bring justice to the poor and hope to the broken hearted,” she said. Many times the credit union has provided loans which kept utilities on or made a car to drive to work a reality. Wight cited two examples of bringing justice to the poor: the credit union refinanced a payday loan where the man was paying far more in interest and fees than the loan was worth, and they were able to save the house of a young woman who, because of a language barrier, was about to lose it. Members with larger financial resources can help others with less.
Holy Rosary Credit Union received a national CCHD grant, and Wight said that part of the grant will be used to start a Holy Rosary, united Catholic Credit Union branch in St. Joseph, probably near St. Patrick Church.
For more information on Holy Rosary Credit Union, visit www.holyrosarycu.org/.