November 14, 2008

Annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection is Nov. 22-23

By John Shaughnessy

Before the interview ends, Irene Snyder will share a story about a woman who felt drawn to make a change in her life, to leave the career she had for 30 years to try to make a difference in the lives of people in need.

Yet, right now, Snyder is focused on talking about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, a national effort that supports programs that help the 37 million people in the United States who live below the poverty line.

“It’s all about people helping themselves,” says Snyder, who is the coordinator of the campaign for the archdiocese. “It isn’t a direct charity. CCHD is more geared toward

long-term solutions—programs that create jobs, help people form businesses or learn how to buy their own homes. The whole goal is to eliminate poverty.”

Since its start in 1970, the campaign has provided more than $250 million for community-based projects across the country.

The collection for the campaign this year will be on Nov. 22-23 during Masses in churches across the archdiocese.

To show how much the campaign is needed, Snyder shares a press release that quotes Ralph McCloud, the executive director of the national campaign.

“Nationally, a family of four is considered to be living below the poverty line if its annual income is less than $20,444,” Snyder says. “If you make a rough calculation of your family’s basic monthly expenses, you know that $21,000 does not go very far in 2008. Even if two people work diligently at minimum wage jobs, they are unlikely to be able to pay for food, housing, transportation, medical costs and child care for the family.’

Each diocese retains 25 percent of the money raised to provide grants for local projects.

The campaign has helped to fund the Ryves Neighborhood Association in Terre Haute. Based in an impoverished neighborhood, the association provides youth programs, clean-up projects and a crime watch effort.

The campaign has also benefited Workforce, Inc., an Indianapolis organization that uses recycling of electronics to assist men and women who have been in jail and are trying to make a new start in life.

One of the organizations that may receive funds this year is called Rebuilding the Wall, an Indianapolis organization that helps low-income families realize their dream of first-time home ownership.

“I like that they’re a faith-based organization,” Snyder says. “They’re taking abandoned houses and then they train unemployed people in the neighborhood, teaching them how to rehab houses. Then they sell those houses to low-income people in the neighborhood. When you have more home ownership in a neighborhood, it makes it a more stable neighborhood.”

It’s the kind of change Snyder likes to see, especially since she made a change in her own life.

She worked as a physical therapist for 30 years—years in which she increasingly volunteered her free time to help others. Her efforts as the coordinator of the CCHD for the archdiocese represent a greater commitment to social ministry. She hopes the campaign at the archdiocesan level will surpass the $100,000 that was raised last year.

“Many of us have so much more than we really need, while others suffer, through no fault of their own,” Snyder says. “We should do what Jesus said, which is to love our neighbor. We don’t love our neighbor if we stand by and allow such poverty and hopelessness to continue.

“Certainly, in our country, we have enough resources and enough good people to bring about wonderful changes in the lives of the poor and reduce poverty tremendously.” †

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