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08/28/2009
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CCHD awards grants to agencies helping others
By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter

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KANSAS CITY — On July 19, a reception was held in the Catholic Chancery’s Gillham Plaza meeting rooms to celebrate the awarding of grants by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Diocesan Human Rights Office to eight groups that work to bring about permanent change in their communities.

In his presentation, Bishop Robert Finn highlighted two principles from Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical letter entitled: “Caritas in Veritate,” that “guide the work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.”

“The first is the inviolable dignity and worth of the human person. In the book of Genesis we learn that God created us in his image and likeness and from that fact we know that each and every person deserves to be loved, respected and treated with justice.

“The second principle I want to mention is the idea that development is an authentic form of evangelization. When we work toward integral development of peoples — that is, from every aspect of the human person: material, ethical, and spiritual — we make the world more human and bring people closer to God.”

The money awarded to CCHD grant recipients comes from the annual CCHD collection taken up in November. According to Jude Huntz, Director of the Office of Human Rights, last year the diocese raised $77,000. The diocese keeps 25 percent of the funds collected, which goes toward locally funded groups, while the remaining 75 percent goes toward groups funded by the National CCHD Office. Recent local grant awards totaled $28,000, while $65,000 was awarded through the national office.

This year, an additional $10,000 was made available to CCHD through the Susi Sinton Endowment Fund. Susi Sinton was a nurse, a long-time member of Christ the King Parish in Kansas City, where she provided volunteer services for seniors. When she died, she left money to Catholic Charities and the diocesan Human Rights Office, establishing a fund to help local charities through CCHD.

These locally funded groups are:

Interfaith Community Services (InterServ) was established in the late 19th century to help immigrant families get resettled when they arrived in St. Joseph to work in the new meatpacking companies, the stockyards or the railroads. InterServ still helps families and individuals achieve and maintain legal status in the United States. The Immigration Services program will receive $7,000 to work with the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Services to ensure that their clients meet all legal requirements and eventually achieve naturalized status.

Kansas City Urban League Youth Center provides homework help, reading enrichment, health and fitness activities, and positive Christian role models. The Re Thinking Healthy Lifestyles program meets multiple needs through gardening. While nutrition and physical activity bring numerous benefits, students are passionate about providing vegetables to their neighbors at the garden market. A $5,000 grant will offer support to the garden and facilitate youth collaboration with Communities Creating Opportunities to advocate for “green” grocery stores in their neighborhoods.

First Step Fund will receive a $5,000 grant to create economic opportunities for vulnerable families in the Kansas City metro area. First Step will train some 100 low- to moderate-income clients in the “FastTrac” method of entrepreneurial training. After 12 sessions in general business training and with a graduate support program, 59% of graduates had started or sustained businesses, and 56% realized increases in household income.

Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation serves clients in six economically depressed counties with business coaching and management guidance designed to take them from the kitchen table to a successful business.  With a $5,000 grant, coordinators will continue to locate resources and connections for start-up, retention, or expansion of a current business with help from a resource group of volunteers.

Amethyst Place provides shelter and care to homeless women who are committed to their children and to maintaining sobriety. All residents are required to attend weekly community meetings sponsored by Alcoholics Anonymous, Parents as Teachers and Narcotics Anonymous. A $3,000 grant will allow Amethyst Place to train and employ students from Kansas City Urban Youth Center as skilled child care providers for community meetings.

Troostwood Youth Garden connects the 49/63 Neighborhoods of Kansas City with urban youth who have limited access to jobs and fresh produce. With a $3,000 grant, young neighbors will plant, tend and sell vegetables in the neighborhood. The project promotes healthy eating, offers constructive pastimes for youth, and provides a needed service to neighborhood residents.

These two groups, located here in Kansas City, received national CCHD funding:

Veronica’s Voice connects with American victims of commercial sexual exploitation (prostitution) of all ages, and encourages, educates and empowers them to make lifestyle changes, which can lead to recovery of their mind, body, and spirit. Awarded $35,000, Veronica’s Voice will be able to continue to offer victims the counseling needed to make the transition to a life free of sexual abuse, regardless of age, race, religion, or sexual persuasion. 

Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO) works with over 24 congregations and communities representing 18,000 people throughout Kansas City. They train community leaders to reach out to their neighbors, identify common concerns, research possible solutions, and collaborate with the key decision-makers to implement solutions. A $30,000 grant will enable CCO to continue training grassroots community members to participate effectively in civic life and affect social change in their neighborhoods and communities.

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