Catholic Campaign for Human Development

Collection weekend of Nov. 23 and 24, 2019

Did you know that more than 46 million people in the United States are living in poverty? That’s one out of every seven Americans, and almost one in five children. Many of these Americans are considered “working poor” — they work but do not make enough money to cover essentials like housing, healthcare, childcare and food.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the Catholic Church’s response to poverty in the United States and is a concrete example of how the Church can be a vehicle for positive change. For more than 45 years, CCHD has addressed poverty by attacking its root causes and funding community projects that promote independence as a means for finding a permanent end to poverty.

CCHD works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities. The program is unique in that it gives a hand up, not a handout. CCHD empowers people living in poverty to make real, lasting change. CCHD offers two grant programs: a community development grant program and an economic development grant program. Community development grants fund organizations led by people in poverty to organize low-income community members to change structures and policies that perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Economic development grants support community-based organizations and businesses that create just workplaces, provide quality jobs and develop assets for low-income people. Both grant programs fulfill CCHD’s mission of empowering low-income individuals living on the margins of society to end poverty in their communities.

Funding for these grants comes almost entirely from the CCHD collection. This year, the collection will take place on the weekend of Nov. 23-24 with 25 percent of funds remaining in the Diocese of Burlington to support local anti-poverty efforts. The remaining 75 percent is sent to the national CCHD office to fund organizations that empower low-income individuals to eliminate the cycle of poverty. Although CCHD is a national collection, organizations and neighbors in our local communities benefit. The funding goes to support grants to local nonprofits that make meaningful differences in the lives of Vermonters.

Since its beginning, CCHD has made nearly 8,000 grants to projects created and managed by people with low incomes. These projects aim to improve lifestyles and promote financial stability. In Vermont, one of the organizations benefiting from CCHD funding is Northeast Kingdom Organizing. CCHD support has allowed NEKO to work with low-income people in the Northeast Kingdom to identify key issues that are barriers to success and to create solutions that end the cycle of poverty. Martha Braithwaite, community organizer for NEKO, said, “It is said that community organizing is slow and respectful work. CCHD’s support has allowed NEKO to take the time to build relationships across difference and to address the barriers to participation in community and civic life. By supporting leadership teams that are inclusive and empowering, together we are building a rural Vermont that works for all of us.”

Next weekend there will be a second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Please prayerfully consider contributing any amount that you can. With your help, we can work to end poverty — not just for a day, but for a lifetime. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

— Mary Beth Pinard is the executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities.

—Originally published in the Nov. 9-15, 2019, issue of The Inland See.