Organizations promoting life, human dignity awarded grants

Representatives of the nine organizations awarded Life and Justice grants gathered for a photo after the grants were presented by the diocesan Respect Life and Human Rights offices May 8. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — The Life and Justice Campaign, a program co-sponsored by the Diocese of Kanas City-St. Joseph and the Human Rights and Respect Life offices, gives Catholics throughout the diocese an opportunity to support local organizations dedicated to defending the dignity of the person and the sanctity of human life.  The campaign awards grants to help support those organizations meeting the grant criteria. Along with individual donations, annually in August, a second collection is taken in parishes to provide the grant funds; 100 percent of all donations received by the campaign through the calendar year are distributed in the diocese.

The Catholic Center was the setting for the 2017 Life and Justice Reception held May 8, attended by grant recipients, organization staff members, friends and family. Nine grants were awarded, several to first-time applicants. The recipient organizations met all the criteria, especially that of meeting people where they are, defending the dignity of the person and the sanctity of life.
Grant recipients include:

A Simple House, founded by Clark Massey, is a ministry of missionary volunteers who visit families in project neighborhoods and the homeless in their camps, meeting people where they are, offering friendship, prayer, encouragement, and assistance with life skills and related needs where appropriate. They call their work Friendship Evangelization. While volunteers serve at A Simple House, they live a simple, religious life, attending daily Mass, saying morning and evening prayer together, and making time for personal prayer and scripture study. The grant will help the members of A Simple House purchase a minivan to assist with transportation needs. Clark Massey accepted the grant.

Amethyst Place has been caring for some of Kansas City’s most vulnerable women and their children since 2000. The women may be recovering from alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness, even human trafficking. The grant will help Amethyst Place with its Family Self-Sufficiency project that includes supported employment, mentoring, educational assistance and assistance with income supports. Kimberley Davis, Executive Director and Co-Founder, accepted the grant.

Community Services League, founded in 1916 by an Independence bible study group, has for a century been working to provide financial security for the poor. With 10 offices in Jackson County, CSL serves 15,000 individuals annually. Partnering with Holy Rosary Credit Union, CSL helps financially struggling people in eastern Jackson County obtain loans at fair rates, with credit counseling and education, to free them from the payday loan debt trap. CSL provides help in four main areas: Income Supports, Employment Services, Financial Coaching, and Housing Counseling. The grant will allow Community Services League to strengthen their relationship with Holy Rosary Credit Union and other partner small dollar lending organizations. Cathi Cackler-Veazey, Board Chair, accepted the grant.

FIRE Foundation, an independent non-profit organization has, since 1996, worked to provide children with special needs the opportunity to attend their parish schools with siblings and friends, by helping the schools afford the salaries of special education teachers and paraprofessionals, as well as equipment. It’s not only children with special needs who benefit. Through advocacy and programs to help children with diagnosed special needs and many more with learning challenges — in fact the entire student body benefits in one way or another. The grant will allow FIRE to further assist 11 local Catholic grade schools and two high schools provide the personalized attention students need. John Joyce, President-Elect of the FIRE Foundation, accepted the grant.

Jerusalem Farm, founded by Jordan and Jessie Schiele in 2012, is a community bringing hope to its neighbors, especially through its ministry of addressing home repair needs and coordinating volunteers from Kansas City and around the country. Jerusalem Farm strives to transform the lives of its members and the lives of those around them through the four cornerstones of Prayer, Community, Service and Simplicity; accomplished through service retreat experiences, sustainable living and home repair. Last year, they hosted more than 240 volunteers for week-long stays; had local parishioners and students join them for days of service, and nine Sojourners join them for a month or more. They are in the process of building a new community home around the corner from their original home, which will become a retreat house and home for Sojourners. The grant will help Jerusalem Farm share their message and to reach more people in need through their Home Repair Project. Jessie, Executive Director, accepted the grant.

Mother’s Refuge was founded by a group of Independence residents concerned over the number of pregnant, homeless teenagers in the area. It provides a safe home, a place of love and care for young moms and babies. More than 1,550 pregnant teenagers and young women have found refuge at Mother’s Refuge since 1987. Homeless, pregnant and parenting young women between the ages of 12 and 21 are sheltered, educated and provided with comprehensive services empowering them to make good decisions for themselves and their babies. Licensed by the State of Missouri, they can provide housing for up to 14 mothers and babies. Moms can enter the program at any point in their pregnancy and remain up to one year post-partum. The grant will help build their Direct Care and Mentorship Program. Robert Zornes, Executive director and Cassie Lara, Education Director, accepted the grant.

North Central Missouri Business Facilitation, founded in 2015, offers free, confidential business coaching in several rural counties. A group of volunteers who champion the sustainable success of small business and work to keep or bring back businesses in rural Harrison, Grundy, DeKalb, Davies, Caldwell and Clinton counties. This helps not only the community, but also individuals and families. With work comes the dignity of providing for oneself and one’s family. Through facilitated coaching and the assistance of a local community-wide think tank, NCMBF’s overall goal is to contribute to the stabilization and economic growth in the communities. The grant will allow North Central Missouri Business Facilitation to assist more businesses by providing on-going training and funding for the position of Business Facilitator. NCMBF Business Facilitator Stephanie Williams accepted the grant.

One Heart Project, a national mentoring program that gives youthful offenders a second chance, is new to Kansas City. Many of the young offenders come from fatherless homes; face poverty daily, have incarcerated family members, are victims of abuse and 40 percent are under the age of 16. One Heart Project is an activation campaign to mobilize individuals and organizations across America to participate in a movement to positively impact incarcerated and at-risk youth ages 13-19, in public schools, after school outlets and juvenile justice facilities, through two initiatives: 1) a standardized redirection initiative 2) a standardized reentry initiative. The grant, accepted by Sandy Moll, will assist One Heart Project in growing its Kansas City Mentoring Initiative.

The Tamale Kitchen generates both revenue and opportunities for a group of women of Our Lady of Peace Parish. They work with a team of entrepreneurial partners across Kansas City who are committed to making a difference for the good in society. The Tamale Kitchen, a not-for-profit concern, addresses the root causes of injustice towards the dignity of the person, particularly women of the Northeast Kansas City Hispanic community. Limited education, unemployment, and lack of community leadership roles are some of the challenges they face. The Tamale Kitchen provides a path to self-sufficiency by drawing upon their talents, paying livable wages and empowering them to develop leadership skills and engage in the broader community. Becky Gripp, The Tamale Kitchen’s founder, accepted the grant, which will allow The Tamale Kitchen to purchase both new and used commercial grade appliances including a steamer, mixer and blender as well as pots, pans and utensils. The Tamale Kitchen was to officially open May 23.

The 2017 Life and Justice Campaign second collection will be the weekend of Aug. 20 and 21.

To learn more about the diocesan Life and Justice campaign, visit


  1. June 24, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

    Glad to see these organizations getting grants

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December 02, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph