By Anne Marie Amacher
Since its founding in 1895, St. Vincent Home has cared for children. Although its services have changed over time, the overall effort to help children is the main focus.
The orphanage closed in 1971; in 1973 the Diocese of Davenport entered into an agreement with St. Vincent Home Corporation to take over all assets and liabilities and establish a foundation.
Today, the corporation makes loans and grants for projects that further the original purpose of St. Vincent Home, said Kent Ferris, director of social action for the Diocese of Davenport. The corporation focuses on funding projects that assist children who are in the greatest need.
Funded groups are allocated on a nondenominational basis; funds are not distributed to government agencies. Projects and activities that are funded must conform to the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, Ferris added. In addition, organizations that work with children must document their efforts to perform background checks of employees and volunteers who work with or have direct contact with children in order to be eligible for grants.
Applicants must be located within the diocese’s 22 counties or serve children within the diocese.
St. Vincent Home Corporation also requires grant recipients to submit progress reports.
The corporation has distributed more than $3 million to organizations since 1973. The latest grant allocation totaled more than $44,000; but requests for funds totaled more than $72,000.
Grants awarded in November went to:
• Boys and Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley in Moline, Ill., which received $2,000 for help with matching funds for programs that revolve around education and career development, character and leadership development, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation. More than 1,000 children in the Quad-City area are served by the clubs.
• Emma Cornelis Hospitality in Fort Madison. The grant for $5,000 will go toward providing basic food and shelter and working with Fort Madison-area community organizations to help individuals build self-esteem and establish themselves to become self-supporting citizens.
• Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois in Rock Island, Ill. The $600 grant will be used to provide materials for girls to earn their religious awards. Religious award activities would be conducted through their local churches or places of worship in partnership with volunteers.
• Humility of Mary Housing Inc. in Davenport. Its $12,750 grant helps pay for leases for eight apartments. HMHI provides support to single-parent families in the Quad-City area.
• Information Referral & Assistance Services in Clinton. The $6,500 grant will be used to keep living units safe by completing necessary maintenance and repairs and to help purchase basic personal needs for families moving in. Children are the main focus of the Jericho Supportive Housing Program.
• Mt. St. Clare Speech and Hearing Center in Clinton. The grant for $3,500 will go toward a desktop computer with a touch screen that will be put on a mobile cart to use with clients. Other therapy materials may be purchased as well. The Sisters of St. Francis assist clients by providing speech and occupational therapy services at a reduced or waived fee. Seventy percent of the clients are children.
• Project Renewal of Davenport. A grant for $6,000 will help pay for a stipend for three or four college students to assist in planning and implementing activities for summer programs for children at risk who come from low-income families. Project Renewal offers programs year-round with an average attendance of 40 children per week.
• Safer Foundation in Davenport. Its $3,500 grant will be used to support GED testing. The exam fee is a hardship for many students who have low income. This program offers an alternative for youth who are no longer in traditional schools. Funding also will help provide life skills instruction, pre-employment training, job referral and placement, and facilitation and oversight of community service house.
• Family Resources in Davenport. The $5,000 award will help bring two nationally recognized trainers from the Family Partnership Institute to the Quad-Cities to train Family Resources staff with three days of intensive training and two coaching days. The training will assist staff in identifying, engaging and connecting an individualized family support plan, which will allow children to be moved from a residential treatment center to a loving home.
When the Diocese of Davenport took over the St. Vincent Center, it assumed its debt, said Msgr. Michael Morrissey, a retired priest of the diocese and former vicar general. There was roughly $76,000 of debt from the replacement of the windows, he noted.
To carry on the ministry of helping children, Msgr. Morrissey said the diocese set a Catholic Charities collection to be taken each year, for 20 years. That money would help carry on the ministry of the former orphanage.
Money that came in from bequests and wills also was put into an account that was established for St. Vincent Home Corporation, he said. One bequest was $300,000. “That really helped get it going.”
Once money started going into the corporation, investments grew rapidly.
Today, interest from the account is distributed in the forms of grants to agencies and groups that help children.