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

Two Eastern Washington groups awarded national CCHD grants

the Inland Register

(From the Aug. 2, 2001 edition of the Inland Register

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) national grant awards for the year 2001 have been announced.

Two recipients from the Spokane Diocese are VOICES (Voices for Opportunity, Income, Education, and Support) and Northwest Regional Facilitators’ Child-care Micro-Loan Fund.

CCHD is the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ domestic anti-poverty, social justice program. It is one of the collections taken up each year in the Church to help the needy.

Unlike many of the other collections that support direct service, however, CCHD addresses the root problems of poverty and works for institutional change.

Grant money awarded to the Child-care Micro-Loan Fund supplies small loans and seed money to new and existing day care providers to increase the number and variety of child care placements in the Spokane area.

The goal of this organization is to sustain local day care businesses for the long term. This fosters stability for both the children in child care and for the business owners. CCHD awarded $30,000 to this program (see “Catholic Campaign for Human Development: 25 years of countering the root causes of poverty,” IR 5/3/01).

VOICES is a unique organization with many facets. It is a grass-roots low-income support and empowerment group where people can share their stories with others in similar situations.

But, more than just a support group, it is an education and advocacy group where participants learn skills to make their voices heard in the community through voting, letters to the editor, public speaking, and contacting legislators, all for the purpose of change.

VOICES’ speakers bureau trains interested members in the art of public speaking. These skills are used to formally address public officials such as Spokane City Council members or state senators and representatives.

VOICES received a $20,000 national CCHD grant. The organization is located at the Downtown SNAP offices at 212 S. Wall, Spokane.

A third organization, Women’s Justice Circles, received $20,000 in national CCHD grant money for service in the Spokane, Yakima, Portland and Seattle dioceses. The organization’s official name is Justice for Women: A Northwest Collaboration for Empowerment. The circles are sponsored by the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center in Seattle.

The Spokane Women’s Justice Circle is also supported by Transitions and meets at the Women’s Drop-In Center at 218 S. Howard.

Women’s Justice Circles seek social justice for women and families living in poverty. They do this by building relationships between low-income women and justice-seeking people from churches, businesses, schools and community organizations.

In contrast to VOICES, which is an ongoing process, each Justice Circle consists of eight two-hour meetings in which participants build partnerships among equals. They are trained to be leaders, to research and analyze the justice issues of low-income women, and then take action to create social change.

During these sessions, the low-income women share the story of their struggle for survival at the bottom of the economic structure. Mutual and respectful relationships are formed among these poor and non-poor as they listen to one another.

Four facilitators are chosen among the women, two from each of the two income groups. Next they choose an issue to address during their eight weeks together.

Last fall, that issue was affordable housing.

During the second Justice Circle, held last April, the group chose to focus on domestic violence and the unmet needs of abused women.

A third Justice Circle is planned for this October and November in the four Northwest dioceses. A Spanish-language circle is organized in the Yakima area. The women will choose their issue at one of the first meetings.

For more information about the Spokane Circle, contact Dominican Sister Mary Rathert, 455-4249.

Seventy-five percent of the CCHD money collected each year is sent to Washington, D.C., where national grants are determined. In the Spokane Diocese, CCHD is funded as part of the Church in the United States Collection in May.

This year, almost $38,000 was sent to the national office from our diocese, and over $50,000 was received in national grants. Twenty-five percent of the money stays in the Spokane Diocese to fund organizations working for institutional change in the fight against poverty.

The local grants were distributed to the following groups:

  • Blue Mountain Action Council, an adult literacy program in Walla Walla: $2,000.
  • Habitat for Humanity, Spokane. One new porch and foundation for a home: $1,000.
  • Interfaith Hospitality Network, toward a Speaker’s Bureau: $1,950.
  • Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute, for social analysis to develop Native American spiritual leaders: $2,000.
  • Transitions Program for Women, Spokane Women’s Justice Circle: $2,000.
  • Volunteers of America, Crosswalk — teen employment program: $1,000.


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