Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
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Eastern Washington Catholic serves with U.S. bishops’ anti-poverty campaign
the Inland Register
(From the Sept. 13, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)
Cheryl Amann serves on the national level of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. (IR photo courtesy of Catholic Charities)
Cheryl Amann is one of only four individuals from West Coast states who serve on the National Advisory Committee of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the U.S. bishops’ domestic anti-poverty program. Amann is now in her third year on the national committee, where she brings a particular perspective to the work of evaluating CCHD grant applications.
As part of her Bachelor’s of Social Work degree from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Amann served as an intern for VOICES (Voices for Opportunity, Income, Childcare, Education and Support), a national organization receiving CCHD grant funding. VOICES does community organizing for current and former Welfare recipients. She says she understood right away that she wanted to work with VOICES because of the organization’s efforts to help low-income people empower themselves to create change. Currently, she volunteers in VOICES’ office, and recuses herself when VOICES’ application is considered by the CCHD committee.
Amann is one of about 25 people from around the country who review grant requests that hope to assist low-income groups working for institutional change or to create sustainable living-wage jobs. So much of the work being funded, she said, echoes the values she was taught in her social work education: educate and provide tools to people in order to empower themselves, removing barriers to a more just social order. With her physical disability – she can’t walk far or easily, and sometimes uses a wheelchair – Amann says she brings an understanding and awareness to the national level that many on the committee don’t have.
Some of the committee work is handled via internet, but the whole committee meets every May in Baltimore to set priorities and approve the hundreds of thousands of dollars granted each year. Immigrant rights were a big concern this year among hopeful grantees, she said, along with supportive housing, small business incubators, and education programs.
Born and raised in central Idaho, Amann lives near the small town of Marshall, Wash., and attends both St. Rose of Lima Parish in Cheney and St. Aloysius in Spokane.
“My soul tells me I am my brother’s keeper,” she said. The national CCHD committee allows her to serve others in ways she feels she could never do on her own – “unless I won the lottery.”
Recently widowed and finishing work on her Master’s of Social Work degree, she wants others to know that there are people and organizations helping in our society. “There is so much good work going on,” she said.