Barb Montagna, a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Church in Rochester, was surprised to learn about the great work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. She had just viewed a video on CCHD as part of the JustFaith program.
“Why haven’t we heard about CCHD before?” she asked her JustFaith group.
Deni Mack, a pastoral associate at Church of the Assumption in Fairport, also was energized by the work of CCHD-funded projects. She wondered how we could spread the word in our parishes.
In light of the negative stories about the Catholic Church in recent years, it is refreshing to celebrate the good work that our church is doing. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is one of those good works.
What makes CCHD unique is that it does not fund direct-service projects, such as food cupboards or overnight shelters. Rather, CCHD funds programs and projects that address the causes of poverty and powerlessness. It provides funding so that low-income workers can become leaders to address their own issues. CCHD’s approach starts with the belief that the poor best know what they need to change in their lives and their communities. CCHD does not do for people what they can do for themselves. CCHD funds community-organizing and economic-development projects that empower low income and poor to change the power arrangements in their communities. These projects work on institutional as well as personal change. This focus on the root causes of poverty complements the emergency response of direct-service programs run by Catholic Charities, St. Vincent DePaul and our parish outreach ministries.
Since 1970 the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has supported more than 7,000 community-based projects. All of these projects are initiated and led by low-income folks. The Tompkins County Workers’ Center in Ithaca, which is funded by a national CCHD grant, is an example of how low-income workers can bring about long-term change. The center successfully pressured Ithaca City Council to attach a stipulation to land being sold to a large hotel that requires the hotel to pay its housekeepers a living wage. This change affects a minimum of 50 hotel workers at that hotel and is exerting pressure upon other hotels in the area to pay a living wage. In this way, the workers’ dignity is respected and they will be able to provide for their families. CCHD stands with the poor as they work to change their circumstances themselves.
In Rochester, Interfaith Action, a faith-based community organization, convinced the Rochester Police Department to put foot patrols in four neighborhoods. During this time, violent crime was reduced by 70 percent. This is another example of what people power can accomplish.
The Progressive Neighborhood Federal Credit Union, also a recipient of a CCHD grant, promotes economic development and financial literacy in the urban core. Miss Betty started a successful business of selling her hot sauce with a loan from the credit union. The credit union brought banking services to an area of the city without any banks. This institution is now teaching financial literacy and giving hope to low-income workers.
You can support these projects and many others like them across the country by contributing to the CCHD collection, which takes place in our diocese Sept. 20-21. Your gifts become the tools of self-sufficiency and self-determination for people working to break the cycle of poverty. You can trust that CCHD will use your gifts well, channeling them to communities where the need and the will to create change are both great.
Visit the CCHD Web site for more information: www.usccb.org/cchd.
You can stand with the poor and invest in the dignity of the poor by supporting CCHD. Thank you for your generous support.
Mich is director of social policy and research at Rochester’s Catholic Family Center as well as diocesan director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.