CCHD: Working to break the cycle of poverty

by Brennan Hall

The Prairie Catholic/Nov. 2014 - As Catholics, we are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and care for the sick. In today’s world, these acts are needed more than ever. Thousands lack these basic needs globally, nationally, and even within the 15 counties of the Diocese of New Ulm.

More than 46 million Americans live in poverty. That’s one in every six Americans who are struggling to live day to day. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 26,126 people live in poverty in our diocese, an amount that exceeds the total population of Brown County. That’s a 10.9 percent poverty rate.

We are called to help the poor. We are called to offer hope and help to low-income families in order to overcome poverty and injustice. One way we can do this is through our support of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

The CCHD is a program sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. According to the USCCB, its mission is “to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community-controlled self-help organizations and through transformative social justice, education, and solidarity between poor and non-poor.”

Each year, the CCHD awards grants ranging from $25,000 to $75,000 to organizations that empower individuals to break the cycle of poverty. Many of the funded projects focus on health care, immigration, protection of communities, economic development, and justice for the environment. This current grant cycle, the CCHD gave away nearly $14 million.

Guillermina Serrano and her husband, Salvador, stand behind the counter of Azteca Mexican Restaurant on Fourth St. SW in downtown Willmar on Oct. 14. The couple operates the restaurant with two children, Guillermo and Ana. To ensure the success of their fledgling restaurant, the family receives subsidized rent and business advice from the Willmar Area Multicultural Business Center. WAM-BC, in turn, receives financial support from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.                                (Photo by Dan Rossini)     

Guillermina Serrano and her husband, Salvador, stand behind the counter of Azteca Mexican Restaurant on Fourth St. SW in downtown Willmar on Oct. 14. The couple operates the restaurant with two children, Guillermo and Ana. To ensure the success of their fledgling restaurant, the family receives subsidized rent and business advice from the Willmar Area Multicultural Business Center. WAM-BC, in turn, receives financial support from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.                                (Photo by Dan Rossini)     

Organizations that receive CCHD funds must not participate in or promote activities that contradict the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church. To ensure that CCHD funds are used in keeping with Catholic teaching, all applicants must go through a multi-step review process.

CCHD in our area
The CCHD is alive and well in our own diocese, as it is currently granting support to the Willmar Area Multicultural Business Center (WAM-BC).

WAM-BC is working to eliminate poverty in the heart of downtown Willmar. Started in 2003 by several minority small business owners, WAM-BC seeks to transform the city of Willmar through an economic development initiative.

Through training, support, and encouragement, WAM-BC’s determined business leaders began guiding micro-enterprises in downtown Willmar that were led by minority owners. It has supported them economically and socially, helping them grow in all aspects of life.

Support from the CCHD has helped WAM-BC establish itself as a resource for many local Latino and Somali families. WAM-BC has received $85,000 in grants from the CCHD. The board of directors hopes to continue supporting minorities in Willmar as they grow into an effective resource for Willmar’s diverse community.

In addition, CCHD-funded projects have helped many more people in our area. These projects include:

– Dakota Rural Action in Brookings, S.D. It supports agreements that build family agriculture, strengthen workers’ rights, and protect the environment.
– One Roof Housing in Duluth. It is committed to providing a wide range of housing services that allow Duluth residents to purchase and keep affordable homes as long as they like.
– The Neighborhood Development Center in St. Paul. The center is a community-based organization that works in low-income communities. It helps emerging entrepreneurs develop successful businesses that help build stronger neighborhood economies.
Supporting the CCHD
The CCHD is able to provide funding to groups like WAM-BC through the generosity of Catholics across the nation. Each year, a collection is taken up in parishes to support its efforts. This year’s collection is set for Nov. 22-23, the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Twenty-five percent of the proceeds collected in the Diocese of New Ulm stay within the diocese to provide for social concerns at the local level. The rest helps fund the CCHD grants.

Please support the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. More information about the CCHD is available at www.povertyusa.org. For collection materials and other resources, visit www.usccb.org and search for “CCHD Collection Resources.”

Editor’s Note: Brennan Hall, a student at St. John’s University in Collegeville, is the CCHD intern for the Diocese of New Ulm.