By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Even in retirement, Father Ed O’Melia believes it is important to support the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). He was among about a dozen people who attended a CCHD breakfast Oct. 3 at St. Vincent Center in Davenport. Another breakfast is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17, at 10 a.m. at St. Mary Parish in Iowa City.
Also at the Oct. 3 breakfast was Father Bob Striegel, chaplain at the Veterans Affair Medical Center in Iowa City and sacramental minister and canonical pastor at Ss. Joseph & Cabrini Parish in East Pleasant Plain. He wanted to learn what CCHD offers. Discovering that local groups have received national grants was a plus, he said.
Kent Ferris, director of Social Action for the Diocese of Davenport, said, the breakfasts are “a pilot of sorts to see how we can ‘take this show on the road.’” The Social Action Office has hosted breakfasts to inform people about Catholic Relief Services’ Rice Bowl, which has been successful, he noted.
Loxi Hopkins, a volunteer in the Social Action Office, said CCHD was begun in 1969 in response to Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “A Call to Action.” Called the Campaign for Human Development, the word “Catholic” was added later to the title. Msgr. Marvin Mottet, a retired diocesan priest, served as the national director from 1978-85.
As with the Rice Bowl collection, CCHD retains 25 percent of local donations to use for grants. Hopkins noted that some of the national funds have made their way back to the diocese as national grants. Quad Cities Interfaith (QCI) in Davenport and the Center for Worker Justice in Iowa City are grant recipients.
Grants are awarded for a maximum of six consecutive years followed by a three-year cycle off. Recipients may reapply after that time.
Ferris hopes the breakfasts “bump up promotion of this important collection. This diocese has been blessed to have organizations receive national grants.” He encourages parishioners to view YouTube videos on CCHD. In addition, CCHD promotional materials and videos are being sent to parishes for use viewing and discussion among groups such as religious education classes, pastoral councils and RCIA classes.
Leslie Kilgannon, executive director of Quad Cities Interfaith (QCI) spoke at the Oct. 3 breakfast. QCI is currently in the three-year break period for CCHD grants. “One of the focuses right now is jobs —good-paying jobs.” With proposed rail service from Chicago to the Quad Cities and a new I-74 bridge to be constructed in the Quad Cities, there is potential for good-paying, local jobs.
She said QCI helped form the Highway Construction Careers Training Program (HCCTP), offered through Black Hawk Community College in Moline, Illinois, to help minorities and women access those jobs. Students receive training to help them obtain a stable job in a related field.
QCI addresses a variety of issues to make the Quad Cities a better place with the help of CCHD grants, she added. The organization works with local police departments to focus on crime prevention and building community. Also, restorative justice “is hitting the road running.” A drug court in Scott County offers a diversion program to keep people out of jail and get them into the workforce. A mental health court is also being planned. “We need to get people treatment and out of prison,” she said.
During the off years from CCHD grants, Kilgannon said they host a variety of fundraising events to fill in the revenue needed.
The Center for Worker Justice in Iowa City, with the help of CCHD grants, has worked on minimum wage, wage theft and safety issues. “Their approach with wage theft is to get back wages that are owed,” Ferris said. The center’s advocates have themselves experienced worker injustice.
Jim Collins of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport is another supporter of CCHD. “You need to understand the whole picture. We can do more as a parish and neighborhood. We need to learn first.”
To reserve a spot for the Oct. 17 breakfast, contact Esmeralda Guerrero at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (563) 888-4210.