Working on the margins: CCHD collection benefits local groups assisting poor, marginalized

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the national anti-poverty program of the U.S. bishops. It works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities.

On Sept. 15 and 16, a second collection will be taken in parishes of the St. Cloud Diocese to benefit CCHD. Twenty-five percent of the funds collected will remain in the diocese to support local anti-poverty projects. Last year, an additional $180,000 was returned to the diocese in national grants.

“Our baptism calls us to community, to reach out to others,” said Kateri Mancini, Catholic Charities’ director of social concerns and CCHD director for the diocese.

“Our church tradition and leaders have continuously told us that this is as essential a part of parish life as the sacraments and Word,” she said. “CCHD gives us an opportunity to live out this part of our baptismal call by helping those who are experiencing poverty and hardship throughout both our local community as well as across the nation, where 46 million people are living in poverty.”

Local organizations that have received national funding include:

  •  La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, a statewide, faith-based non-profit civil rights organization;
  •  Greater Minnesota Worker Center, a nonprofit organization that organizes, advocates for and empowers low-wage workers in greater Minnesota; and
  •  Catholic Charities, the social service agency of the church in the St. Cloud Diocese which offers services to some of the most in need and most marginalized members of the community.

Other organizations receiving a portion of the 25 percent of local funding are Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization, a service group that facilitates discussion of community issues and provides services for immigrants and refugees to gain skills and education; and Wellness in the Woods, a nonprofit agency promoting wellness in eight areas: physical, emotional, vocational, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental and financial.

Jode Freyholtz-London, executive director of Wellness in the Woods, has worked to support individuals with mental health issues, especially in greater Minnesota. With a staff of 22 located across the state, Wellness in the Woods provides education and training for communities to help support people with mental illness.

“It is so critical to involve the whole community in learning about mental health organizations, resources and experiences.” Freyholtz-London said. “Being supported by families and communities is important for the recovery process.”

The CCHD grant will help Wellness in the Woods improve its online presence as well as its marketing materials to help spread the word about the services they offer.

“We are constantly looking for ways to be sustainable and finding ways we can creatively reach into our community. There is still a huge stigma around mental illness. There are so many hurting people out there and we can’t get to all of them,” Freyholtz-London said. “We have a great staff working hard to reach as many people as we can.”

Mancini said there are many parishes, groups and organizations like Wellness in the Woods that are striving to make a difference, to help their neighbors in need. But often resources are the greatest barrier in the fight against poverty — for individuals in poverty as well as the organizations trying to help them.

“CCHD allows for funding of these groups and, more importantly, provides resources and support, ideas and networking that can help create not only one-time impacts, but sustainable changes to really make a difference in people’s lives and our communities,” she said. “From housing initiatives, to small business entrepreneurship, to efforts surrounding jobs and racism and food security, to community-building and advocacy goals — it has already made a difference in our diocese, and we need even more of this great difference.”

Make checks payable to Diocese of St. Cloud and noted “CCHD.”

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The Visitor is the official newpaper for the Diocese of Saint Cloud.

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