By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Sixteen organizations have received grants to provide direct services to alleviate poverty and hunger within the Diocese of Davenport. Those grants were funded by Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl funds collected during Lent earlier this year. Two organizations also received grants to advance the common good and protect the lives and dignity of others. Those grants were funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection held last November.
Loxi Hopkins, who serves on the boards that issue the grants, said recipients and board representation have spread further out into the diocese. “It’s really wonderful to see what is going on in our diocese. We have learned so much about how people are helping others and lifting them up.”
Hopkins noted that 25 percent of the Rice Bowl and CCHD collections remain in the diocese.
Kent Ferris, diocesan director of social action, said the ability to provide grants depends on the generosity of parishioners. “It is equally important that we receive the funds by early May each year so we know how much we can distribute.”
Grant applications are submitted each spring and grants are distributed during the summer. Each recipient must complete a progress report to be eligible for future grants.
CRS Rice Bowl grants
Amanda Willimack, a volunteer with the Summer Lunch Box program in DeWitt, said the program received $1,000. “The funds will be used to cover the cost of groceries and the vouchers we provide on a weekly basis to those families who use the program.”
Her organization learned about the grant through St. Joseph Parish in DeWitt. The Summer Lunch Box program provides kid-friendly food to children during summer break, Willimack said. During the school year, the children often get free or reduced-cost lunches through school. “During the summer these families struggle to financially support the extra food needed to feed their families,” she said.
“This program is truly an opportunity to do mission work within our own community. The four major churches in the community all work together to make this program work and to raise funds to support the program. We provide volunteer opportunities and really try to involve some of the children within the churches to help with packing kits and delivering kits weekly to the referral center for distribution.”
Rosa Mendoza, executive director of The Diversity Service Center of Iowa in Muscatine, said the $1,100 grant that the center received helps with the Hispanic meal site. “We buy ingredients to help provide authentic meals for seniors 60 and older. The meal site offers activities, support and referrals and helps develop relationships and self-esteem for low-income seniors. The meal serves 22-25 people on the first Tuesday of the month. We are grateful for the grant as there is always a need. Participation is up so this is very helpful,” Mendoza said.
Matthew McDowell with Camp Excel Leadership Academy in Davenport said the program will use its $1,000 grant to help feed campers and youths in the area surrounding the program. The camp serves youths ages 5-15 years old and works to motivate and engage them with positive experiences. “We are truly grateful.”
Other CRS Rice Bowl grant recipients: Against the Ropes in Clinton, Feeding Our Family program, $500; Community Action of Southeast Iowa in Burlington, hygiene assistance, $250; Coralville Community Food Pantry in Coralville, improved access to plant-based proteins, $500; Friendly House in Davenport, holiday baskets, $1,000; Helping Hands in Knoxville, food program, $2,500; Fellowship Cup via Henry County Help to Others (H2) in Mount Pleasant, food distribution, $1,000; Pantries United through Information Referral and Assistance Services in Clinton, food, $1,500; Loaves & Fishes in Muscatine, nutritious meals, $500; North Liberty Community Pantry in North Liberty, food for summer program, $1,000; Project Renewal in Davenport, after-school program, $2,000; St. James Parish in Washington, Saturday kitchen program, $500; St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Burlington, milk, $1,000; and Transitions CMC in Burlington, food purchase for emergency food for the homeless in southeast Iowa, $750.
The Mottet Leadership Institute received a grant for $3,500 to provide scholarships and cover costs of Gamaliel trainers, said Leslie Kilgannon, the institute’s coordinator. Participants learn about public relationships, qualities of leaders, team building, engaging in action and entering the public arena, among other things. The next Mottet Leadership Institute opens with a retreat Sept. 20 and 21 followed by sessions Oct. 19, Nov. 16, Dec. 14, Jan. 18, Feb. 15 and March 21. Cost is $400 per participant.
The Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, based in Iowa City, received a grant for $3,079 for leadership development.