CCHD Makes a Difference in Rural America
In a time of slim resources, the Church is reaching out to rural communities to fight poverty. NCRLC has reached out to hundreds of community groups to increase the number of CCHD grants awarded in rural communities. This outreach has offered a unique opportunity to learn about poverty and the fight for justice in many corners of rural America.
In our winter 2013 issue of Catholic Rural Life, NCRLC featured one such group who was awarded CCHD funds to support a new student-run grocery store – Circle C Market – in the Village of Cody, Neb. The village was a “food desert” with the closest grocery store 80 miles away, round trip. Their innovative idea has lead to an entrepreneurial curriculum for the high school students who will learn and manage every aspect of the store, which is due to open this spring. Their sheer will and determination to preserve and grow their community of 150 people is an inspiring model for small towns.
NCRLC has been working for more than two years reaching out to rural community groups like the Circle C Market, to promote national CCHD grants for community organizing and economic development. The U.S. Conference of Catholic of Bishops created the CCHD grant program 40 years ago to provide funding to groups of low income people who are empowered to address the causes of poverty in their communities. CCHD has provided nearly 8,000 grants to community groups to address a range of issues in rural and urban areas.
NCRLC staff has also met new groups such as the Allamakee County Protectors. They are a group of concerned county residents leading the fight against Frac Sand Mining in Allamakee County and across the state of Iowa. The site of current concern is a proposed mining facility in Sand Cove, an area of rich ecological diversity, archaeological importance and rare Tallgrass Prairie plant species. The start up group is advocating for moratoriums to stop the frac sand mining.
In the hills above Robbinsville, North Carolina, the Smoky Mountain Native Plants Association works to preserve native plants while growing local jobs. The group applied for CCHD funds to expand sales and production of value added ramp products (wild onion) for the gourmet food market. Ramps can be grown in woodlands not used for crops and can provide additional income for local farmers and seasonal processing jobs.
Beth Hyser, NCRLC Development Coordinator, said she is ever amazed and impressed at the ingenuity and perseverance of local people to empower and improve their rural communities. As NCRLC launches a new season of outreach for CCHD grants, we hope to hear from more groups like these and will share their stories with you.
How can you help?
You can refer a new group or ongoing program that organizes residents or creates jobs or businesses to alleviate poverty in rural areas. Contact us by email or phone ((651) 962-5955) and we will follow up with the community group. Find more information by visiting our website – NCRLC Outreach/Consulting.
Secondly, you can donate to the annual CCHD collection in your parish and diocese. These funds are making a difference locally and nationally.
Thank you for your help!