Catholic campaign awards $184,500 Eight 'self-help' groups in Baltimore receive grants

August 26, 1998|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

Fifteen nursing aides from low-income communities are checking the vital signs of and giving bed baths to elderly and disabled Baltimore-area residents as part of a new agency, Baltimore Care Givers.

The agency Monday won a $50,000 award, the largest of nine grants totaling $184,500 given to eight "self-help" Baltimore groups by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). The campaign, a national program founded by U.S. Catholic bishops, is in its 28th year here.

"We'll soon have 30 to 40 people trained to provide a variety of services under contract in homes, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, adult day care homes and other places," said Warren Nilsson, director of Baltimore Care Givers, an offshoot of Southeast Development Inc., which is part of the Southeast Community Organization (SECO).

"The campaign has been a terrific help," said Nilsson. "They not only provided the money as an equity partner and help on our social mission, but gave us technical business help we had to have."

Awards are given to anti-poverty organizations if at least half of the members of their boards of directors live at or below the poverty level. The effort targets agencies that have a hard time finding funding elsewhere, a campaign spokesman said.

"People from low-income communities actually have the say in the making and taking of decisions, and that's what sets us apart," said Monsignor William Burke, director of the Archdiocese of Baltimore program.

Baltimore-area Catholics gave the program $166,354 in November in the annual CCHD pre-Thanksgiving collection -- one of the largest annual amounts ever given here, said Bishop Gordon D. Bennett, who succeeded Bishop John H. Ricard. Area Catholics have donated $3.6 million to CCHD since 1970.

"The generosity of Catholics here and across the country leads to a grace-filled hand up rather than a handout to so many of our brothers and sisters," Bennett said.

Typical of comments by award recipients was that of Susan Taylor, a Southwest Baltimore mother of four who has worked with School Sense of the New Southwest Community Association.

That group received $35,000 in a follow-up grant to help continue campaigning for better service from city schools. "With the money we received from you," Taylor told Burke, "we were able to rezone two elementary schools and start a PTA in a school that hasn't had one for 15 years."

Another recipient, Pat Alston of Solidarity in Baltimore, a project of the Solidarity Sponsoring Committee, said CCHD's help had been invaluable in leading the fight for higher wages for Baltimore workers. "For five years, Solidarity has led the nation on the living wage issue. Your investment has paid off in big dividends."

The group of low-income, temporary workers wants to start its own employment agency. CCHD gave it $30,000 in a third-year grant and $5,000 for a business planning strategy.

Five other organizations also received CCHD grants:

* Tri-Churches Housing/ Neighbors Organizing Project, in Pigtown: $25,000 for organizing efforts in the neighborhood, where it has rehabilitated and sold homes to low-income people.

* Discount Mart/Quality of Life Center: $15,000 for the Northeast Baltimore center that serves the poor and welfare recipients in a variety of ways, such as with housing opportunities and a "Loan-up" program that makes small loans for such things as tools and work boots to help people get jobs.

* Parents With Power/Julie Community Center: $12,000 to teach parents at five sites in Southeast Baltimore to become advocates in securing living wage incomes, especially as empowerment zone jobs become available.

* Cherry Hill 2000/Economic Development Committee: $7,500 for computer equipment and technical assistance to allow the growing group to widen its communications efforts in a Southwest area with new commercial and housing developments.

* Students Sharing Coalition: $5,000 to train high school and college students, working with poor residents, to study bills and lobby in Annapolis for poor people aiming for self-support and independence.

Pub Date: 8/26/98

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