By Anne Marie Amacher
For 39 years, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has fought for affordable housing, access to health care and fair wages and has strived to tackle the root causes of poverty.
CCHD was launched in 1969 by the bishops of the United States as the Catholic anti-poverty initiative in the United States.
Twenty-five percent of the annual collection, which takes place this weekend, stays in the Diocese of Davenport. Funds from CCHD benefit community organizations that are run by volunteer boards and serve people in need. CCHD strives to fund groups that work in partnership with the poor to make systemic change, says Loxi Hopkins, the Davenport Diocese’s CCHD director.
Since 1972 CCHD has issued $1,021,500 worth of national grants to entities in the Davenport Diocese, according to Gloria Luna Moorman, CCHD grants specialist for the South West and Central U.S.A. That is in addition to what the diocese awards from its 25 percent allotment for local grants.
The first national CCHD grant of $18,000 was awarded to Senior Iowans, which later became the Center for Active Seniors Inc. (CASI) in Davenport.
Last year, Quad Cities Interfaith (QCI), a community organizing group based in Davenport, received a $40,000 national grant, Hopkins said, which went toward internships for college students. This year’s CCHD intern Elise Meyer, a sophomore at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., stated that “CCHD has made me realize that it is not about a handout for the poor but rather a hand up. It is about helping my brothers and sisters to find a way out of poverty and to lead a life of dignity and independence.”
Last year, the Davenport Diocese collected $35,193.35 in contributions from parishes through the annual collection. Hopkins said the diocese’s portion went to Quad Cities Interfaith, Our Lady of Victory Parish youth group, and for conference fees for herself and Msgr. Marvin Mottet.
The money for QCI went to train 75 people in leadership skill building through the Gamaliel Foundation, a faith-based community organization of which QCI is a member.
Hopkins said the youth group used a portion of its grant for their Habitat for Humanity car wash fundraising effort and the rest was for presentations on social action training.
“We trained them and they in turn joined with other youth to talk about the two feet of social action, with charity being one foot and justice, which corrects long-term community problems, as the other foot.”
The third grant paid for Hopkins and Msgr. Mottet to attend the social ministry conference in Washington, D.C. Msgr. Mottet, a retired priest in the diocese, previously served as the local and national director of CCHD.
Members of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee overseeing the Catholic Campaign for Human Development reassured their fellow bishops and donors Nov. 16 that grant recipients in the anti-poverty campaign comply with Catholic precepts. “We pledge our ongoing efforts to ensure that all CCHD funds are used faithfully, effectively and in accord with Catholic social and moral teaching.”
Quad Cities Interfaith gets CCHD funds
Quad Cities Interfaith in Davenport has benefited from national and local grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Leslie Kilgannon, executive director of Quad Cities Interfaith, said the organization is “a community of people living out our faith and values to collectively transform our society and bring about justice and human dignity locally and regionally. QCI exists to form organizations that empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives.”
The organization formed in 1986 in response to the farm crisis. Faith leaders from both sides of the Mississippi River sought to create an organization that would address the needs of the people and the issues that arose from the farm crisis.
Organizers “brought faith values to the public arena. They wanted to bring up a just society,” she said.
Issues that Quad Cities Interfaith addresses include education, health care, immigration and neighborhoods. “We help develop leaders in churches and the community. We train and assist them. We strengthen churches and congregations to help our community.”
She noted that through the efforts of QCI, local banks and credit unions, legislation was passed in Iowa in 2007 that regulated car title loans. Iowa law caps car loan title interest rates to 36 percent. Before the cap, rates could be 100 or 200 percent — or even more.
QCI and other organizations are still working to put limits on payday loans.
“We tried to solve the problem and alleviate a symptom. That’s the two feet of social action — to set about change.
“And we are grateful to CCHD for the money they give us (locally and nationally). We are building a better community and just society.”