7/24/2014 4:31:00 PM WATCH: The Church takes on poverty Grants fund projects to nix systems that create poverty
Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
Vivian Satterfield of OPAL listens to Keith Scholz during banquet for recipients of grants from Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Recipients of Catholic Campaign for Human Development grants pose with Bishop Peter Smith and Matt Cato.
A national Catholic Campaign for Human Development grant of $60,000 went to the Community Alliance of Tenants for a project training low-income renters in Portland to advocate for housing improvements. A $50,000 national grant went to the Metropolitan Alliance for Common Good, which is organizing East Portland Latinos at Catholic parishes to improve their communities and voice in the public sphere.
Local grants went to the following projects:
• Huerto de la Familia’s food booth help to help foster small businesses in Lane County — $5,000
• Interfaith Food and Farm Partnership’s plan to bring more nutritious food to the Rockwood neighborhood of East Portland — $2,000
• Madonna Center’s campaign to change unjust housing laws in Clackamas County — $4,000
• OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon’s effort to organize Tri-Met riders to advocate for better bus service in East Portland — $5,000
• Outgrowing Hunger’s market garden, which will help East Multnomah County refugees sell produce — $1,500
• Progressive Options’ advocacy, outreach and counseling for people with disabilities in Newport — $3,000
• Salem HUB’s work training people who have been homeless or addicted to repair bicycles — $1,000
• Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality’s training for Latino parents to help their toddlers get ready for kindergarten — $4,000
• Unete’s volunteer-led workshops for Latino parents to help them advocate for their children in public schools — $5,000
• Vocoform’s training sessions for North Portland youth to help them develop skills, live upright lives and act on their enterprising ideas — $1,500
From an East Portland group that advocates for better mass transit to a Medford farmworkers’ collective, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has funded a dozen anti-poverty projects in western Oregon this year. The total of all grants, which comes from money collected in Catholic parishes nationwide, is $142,000.
“Thank you for using your creativity and vision to serve the need,” Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith told grant recipients during a simple dinner hosted July 17 by the Archdiocese of Portland.
The Campaign, an initiative of the U.S. Catholic bishops, funds projects meant to change situations that create poverty.
Keith Scholz, a volunteer member of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, has marveled at how teens in Gresham have stepped forward and asked Tri-Met to lower youth fares. OPAL, which received a $5,000 grant, also has worked to improve quality and safety at bus stops in East Portland and asked for longer transfer periods so low-income riders can complete trips on one ticket.
Matt Cato — director of the Office of Life, Justice and Peace and lead of the local Catholic Campaign for Human Development — told grant recipients that being in community enhances compassionate outreach to people in need, which is a way of imitating Jesus.
“CCHD is an expression of solidarity of the Catholic community,” Cato said.
He cited Pope Francis, who wrote in The Joy of the Gospel, “If we wish to lead a dignified and and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good.”
Cato said the campaign is about changing structures so that human dignity is enhanced.
“Most of the world doesn’t realize that the Catholic Church provides more assistance than any country in the world,” said Deacon John Krebsbach of Forest Grove. He was attending the banquet as an organizer of JustFaith, a formation program that includes Catholic social teaching.
Jess Heringer, who is helping St. Ignatius Parish in Portland discern a social justice outreach, came to see what projects the campaign is supporting.
“It is so important for us to come together as Catholics and be galvanized around some issues we can do things about in peace and justice,” Heringer says.