Catholic organizations serve local communities through grants, financial assistance
“Lord,” prayed Pope Francis, “help us to live the virtue of generosity, to love without limits.”
It is this kind of generosity that has made it possible for Catholic organizations like the Sisters of Mercy, Vermont Catholic Charities Inc., the Fanny Allen Foundation and the Corpus Christi St. Vincent de Paul Conference to serve those in need in their local communities.
Vermont Catholic Charities has awarded grants locally since 1971, first under the category of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. From its inception through 2010, 310 grants totaling $368,000 were awarded, noted Mary Beth Pinard, executive director of Vermont Catholic Charities.
From 2011 to the present, grants are made available through the Bishop deGoesbriand Appeal for Human Advancement, named after the first bishop of Burlington and which has awarded 206 grants totaling more than $433,580.
In 2018 alone, 26 grants were awarded totaling more than $55,000 to support the work of local food pantries and kitchens, camps and community outreach programs, shelters and housing services, parish programs, family services and emergency relief, among a host of others.
Also serving the local community with grant awards are the Sisters of Mercy-Northeast Community, which, for 2018-2019, has awarded some $400,000 to nearly 40 non-profits in the northeastern United States where sisters serve on boards or as staff or volunteers, including four grants to non-profits in Vermont.
According to the sisters, in Vermont, awards made to Mercy Connections, Vermont Interfaith Council, Vermont Haiti Project and Burlington’s Mater Christi School, “advance the dignity and potential of people who are economically poor, including those who are lonely, hungry, homeless or in need of more secure housing; people in need of clean water in Haiti and elementary school students needing financial aid.”
Each year the Sisters of Mercy fund projects and organizations whose work supports our mission, which includes advocating for women and children, immigrants and Earth and overcoming racism and violence, noted Sister Maureen Mitchell, Northeast Community president.
The Fanny Allen Foundation, a member of New England-based Catholic health system Covenant Health, had provided nearly $300,000 in grant monies and support to 39 local organizations by the end of its 2017 fiscal year. This effort maintains a nearly 20-year mission to continue the ministry of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph by stewarding resources to support activities that reflect the compassion of Christ in service to people who are sick and poor in body, mind or spirit.
The chair of the foundation’s board, David Jillson, explained, “We have the opportunity to learn about the variety of challenges facing the community and Vermont as a whole and have the ability to direct resources to those organizations which we believe have the greatest likelihood of success in addressing them.”
For the Corpus Christi Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in St. Johnsbury, monies contributed from a variety of sources allow the group to serve individuals and families in need within the area of Corpus Christi Parish, whether they are parishioners or not. The conference focuses on person-to-person service.
This year the organization has used more than $4,000 for those it serves and has received assistance from the local Knights of Columbus. “Sometimes we have had to go to Catholic Charities for assistance with some of our larger requests. Locally, we have been able to get assistance from the Lyndonville Ecumenical Council,” said Patrick McWilliams, president.
Funds also come from an annual “Souper Bowl” collection and a secret collection at the group’s meetings.