From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Catholic Campaign for Human Development: 25 years of countering the root causes of poverty

the Inland Register

(From the May 3, 2001 edition of the Inland Register

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has been active in the United States since 1976, addressing the reasons people in America are in poverty, supporting programs that work for institutional change, and working for social justice.

CCHD is the primary vehicle of the Catholic Church in the United States to affect social change and to create a more just and equitable society that includes the most marginalized.

The CCHD collection was formerly taken up individually each year in the Spokane Diocese, around Thanksgiving. The campaign now receives funding from the diocese’s Collection for the Church in the United States, which will take place the weekend of May 12-13.

One-fourth of the CCHD portion of the collection stays in the Spokane Diocese to provide local funding for anti-poverty efforts in Eastern Washington. The other part of the CCHD portion is used for national work.

In 2001, six programs will receive funds from local CCHD monies. They include an adult literacy program with Blue Mountain Action Council in Walla Walla and the Women’s Justice Circle at the Women’s Drop-In Center in Spokane.

In addition to locally-funded projects, two Eastern Washington programs have received national CCHD funding.

The first is Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute.

Kateri provides ministry and leadership development for Native American Catholics throughout the Northwest. Specifically designed for Native American people, Kateri is a training and evangelizing program that teaches ministry in the Church, deals with substance abuse and the dysfunctional family, and enriches the Catholic faith tradition in one consistent program.

Weekend sessions include Scripture study, cultural spirituality, hands-on ministry training, healing for chemical dependency and family dysfunction, spiritual direction, working together for justice, and ministry of preparing and celebrating Mass.

On a liturgical basis, in many Indian parishes, the parishioners themselves conduct Word and Communion services. They must be able to minister to one another in every way, with or without the presence of a priest.

In the past, support from CHD has been used to provide food and housing for Kateri participants at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center in Spokane. The majority of participants are Native American and among the poorest segment of society. Many of the students are unable to pay the suggested $25 cost of a weekend stay.

Although the actual cost per person is closer to $125, participants are encouraged to attend regardless of ability to pay.

Over the last two years, grant funding from CCHD has taken on a different focus for Kateri.

Two years ago, Jesuit Fathers Tom Colgan Dick Mercy, co-directors of Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute, opened a social analysis wing. Research is being conducted within Native communities both on and off reservations to develop a working knowledge of Native American social systems. The priests hope their research will provide an accurate picture of the Native culture, along with information on the existing economic and ecclesial structures, political environment, structural and cultural oppression, and substance abuse and addiction problems. As it is gathered, this data is being used to determine the direction of pastoral ministry among Native Americans with a specific focus on the Native Catholic Church.

Expenses relative to the Social Analysis Project include training for Fathers Colgan and Mercy and for Native Americans, travel, and educational materials. These expenses are met with the assistance of the CHD grant.

Kateri participants are an integral part of the Native Catholic Church. They are living out their Baptismal commitment by helping to fill the void left by the diminished number of available clergy on reservations and in the surrounding urban areas. Through them, “God restores what would otherwise be displaced” (Ecclesiastes 3:15).

The second recipient of national CCHD funding is the Northwest Regional Facilitators’ (NRF) Family Care Resources program. The program’s national grant helps support a child-care micro-loan and grant fund.

The fund provides seed grants or loans to in-home child-care providers and child-care centers to increase the number and variety of available child care placements.

NRF also offers a child-care referral service, matching providers with those in need of affordable child-care. Child-care providers are eligible for ongoing education and development programs so that their business might become and remain successful, thereby providing stability for the children in their care.

A number of area child-care providers have benefited from the micro-loan and grant fund:

Marilyn Bordner and Melanie Atkins run the therapeutic child-care center for Isabella House, a women’s inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program of New Horizon Care Centers. The center can serve 19 children, from age one month to six years. Over 600 children have passed through the facility since it opened in 1992.

Earlier models of substance abuse treatment often separated mothers from the young children. Having the child-care on site, as at Isabella House, means that about 70 percent of the mothers complete the six-month program.

Bordner and Atkins describe “destroyed little people” who come to them, usually affected by abuse and neglect and suffering the affects of their mothers’ substance abuse. Here, Bordner says, “the child can start to heal, can be a child. The kids learn a healthy childhood, that they never had before.”

They describe children relearning how to play, even to smile. One 5-year-old boy at their center had been writing checks to pay his mother’s bills before she entered treatment.

The child-care center at Isabella House received grant monies for toys and play equipment from NRF.

In Deer Park High School, three infants receive care so that their mothers can continue their education.

Sue McCearley began the program two years ago in response to teenagers dropping out because they lacked a support system for child-care. She says that child-care is crucial for young mothers to receive their diplomas and to have a better chance to break cycles of poverty.

NRF provided a grant for fencing materials so that the program could meet state requirements for a fenced children’s play area.

McCearley says that NRF has been “wonderful,” offering a lending library for toys and seminars to keep child-care workers current for yearly state accreditation requirements. In addition to technical assistance in grant writing, “the emotional support has been a premium,” McCearly says.

More challenges loom, however. Because the school district will not allow babies on its busses, some young mothers drop out because they have no reliable transportation to school.

Kim Breen provides in-home child care in her Spokane Valley home. This allows her to stay at home with her two pre-school age children and earn an income by caring for three or four others.

Kim doesn’t advertise and so NRF provides a crucial referral network, directing parents in need of day care in her neighborhood to her child-centered basement rooms. NRF also helps Kim set her fees so that she can make a profit while not pricing herself out of the market.

Continuing education and on-going training are also essential parts of NRF’s support for her. She recently received a grant from the Family Resources Center for a shatterproof mirror (essential for the kids to play dress-up) and for a CD player and musical instruments for the daily music sessions.

Since each in-home provider can only accept two infants, Kim emphasizes the need for more quality child care providers and for organizations like NRF, which support those who care for children professionally.

Inland Register archives

© The Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane. All Rights Reserved