Catholic Campaign for Human Development grows success

Broccoli, beets, turnips, sprouts, spinach, cauliflower and more fill the bins at City Greens Market's bright and colorful storefront on Manchester Avenue in St. Louis.

With a $6,300 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, several families will grow food to sell at the nonprofit market. Also, herbs locally grown are coveted by restaurants which pay top-dollar.

Having control of its food supply is a big plus for the community, said Dylan Naylor, who oversees City Greens Market and its garden in the Grove/Forest Park Southeast neighborhoods of St. Louis offering natural, local food in an area where it's not always readily available.

Many of the residents work at minimum-wage jobs that leave them struggling to get by, Naylor said. "This is an opportunity to show them they can make money on their own terms, be their own boss and see the fruits of their labor," he said.

The grant from the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic bishops also will allow City Greens to pay stipends to the families at the beginning of the growing season. City Greens has experimented with hoop houses — a type of small greenhouse with PVC pipe, rebar and sheets of clear plastic — to grow vegetables in the winter.

City Greens works closely with the Midtown Men's Club and Voices of Women at Midtown Community Services and the Danis Pediatric Center at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, where doctors prescribe free memberships to City Greens for families of patients showing food insecurity. The grocery store sells food from local farmers at cost and covers overhead expenses by membership based on household income.

City Greens also accepts Double Up Food Bucks, which enable people with EBT cards (Food Stamps) to double what they spend on fruits and vegetables.

Midtown Men's Club

Funds from the campaign have a multiplier effect at Midtown Community Services, which uses the grant to fund the position of a facilitator at the Midtown Men's Club.

The club began as a social group, discussing challenges and ways to address struggles. Though still addressing that need, it quickly developed into a group focused on service — giving back to the community.

The facilitator funded by the campaign "brings everyone together and pulls together all the details for the projects. It takes a lot of planning to pull it off," said Laura Lamb, executive director of Midtown.

The Men's Club, which received a $6,000 grant, provides a platform for men from different backgrounds to gain understanding from one another and to increase awareness of the issues of lower-income men in urban communities.

Quincy Jones, the club facilitator, said the guys present a positive presence in the community. He's especially proud of the partnership with Food Outreach, volunteering monthly to serve cancer and HIV patients.

They also volunteer at City Greens, working in its community garden.

The club was set up for guys who are retired or in between jobs as a way to keep busy. Jones' motto is to "never waste your time in life. You don't have to be unproductive because you're not working."

In 2012, he lost his job in retail/wholesale where he'd worked some 30 years. He came to Midtown to take part in a job readiness program and ended up staying there as the club facilitator. "I found out what they were doing ... and found my niche," Jones said. "It's more rewarding than I could imagine. I'm not making as much money, but I'm happier and more fulfilled."

Latinos En Axión STL

For Latinos En Axión STL, a $9,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is an opportunity to grow its work with immigrants who live in poverty. The four-year-old organization already has helped many members of the Latino community succeed.

Latinos en Axión is a grassroots organization created by and for Latino immigrants. It addresses issues such as racial profiling, punitive immigration bills, and comprehensive immigration reform. Latinos En Axión provides Know Your Rights training and education sessions on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.

M. Leticia Chávez, executive director of Latinos en Axión, said the group emphasizes the values of the Catholic Church regarding respect and dignity for all. Seeing Jesus's face in others "is our responsibility," Chávez said. "At the same time, we're able to build bridges," empowering people to be their own voice of justice, she said. 

Catholic Campaign for Human Development

A collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development will be held in parishes the weekend of Nov. 18 and 19. The campaign supports programs to empower people to identify and address the obstacles they face as they work to lift themselves out of poverty.

Besides City Greens Market, the Midtown Men's Club and Latinos en Axión, six other organizations in the St. Louis Archdiocese are funded for 2017-18. A quarter of the funds collected remains in our diocese to fund local anti-poverty projects.

Closing the School to Prison Pipeline: Shut it Down focuses on fighting institutional and structural racial bias that is evident in the over-representation of African-American children in referrals to the family court and school suspensions. The initiative works with seven pilot elementary schools in the St. Louis Public School system, altering disciplinary policies to instead use restorative practices ($2,500 grant).

The Coalition for Truth in Independence (CTI) is an umbrella organization for several groups which advocate for the rights of the those with disabilities in the St. Louis area. CTI works on systematic change to ensure that people experiencing disabilities are treated fairly and have access to the resources to enable them to thrive in the most integrated setting ($44,000 national grant).

LinkSTL and its Hyde Park Opportunity project connect residents of the Hyde Park community to the neighborhood through collaboration, advocacy, engagement, evaluation and fun. Fifty percent of those within the community live below the poverty level, and the objective of the Hyde Park Opportunity is to connect residents to resources, including second-chance banking, financial education and coaching, quality housing, and small business development assistance ($5,500 grant).

Metropolitan Congregations United is an interdenominational, multi-racial community organization of religious congregations in the St. Louis metropolitan region. MCU works to dismantle systemic racism in the region, creating lasting institutional change in a variety of ways which align with Catholic social teaching. Currently, they are devoted to a voter engagement strategy and to its "Break the Pipeline" campaign which addresses school, policing, and juvenile justice systems contributing to the criminalization of young people of color ($65,000 national grant).

The Social Action and Virtue Education (SAVE) Foundation promotes education through virtue literacy and restorative practices as a way to empower communities in poverty. The foundation is run out of Holy Trinity Catholic School and serves the communities of St. Ann, Florissant, Ferguson, and Overland. The foundation provides Catholic virtue based restorative discipline education for schools and communities ($4,500 grant).

Voices of Women is a community development corporation. They host Women in Leadership training, maintain the City Greens Community Garden, and offer micro-loans and micro-savings accounts for both adults and children ($10,000 national grant).

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development allocates funds to community projects that address policies and structures that perpetuate poverty while adhering to the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church. Visit www.usccb.org/cchd for more information. 

>> Midtown Men's Club

Club members:

• Volunteer at Food Outreach once a month to prepare and serve HIV and cancer patients with a well-balanced meal.

• Organize and host annual voter registration drives.

• Construct and sell handmade washer sets.

• Helped start and continue to maintain a new community garden.

• Participate in community events and help support other community groups such as Voices of Women.

• Partner with the Science Center and Hosco Farms to work on projects focused on healthy foods and gardening.

• Helped City Greens Market move to their new location on Manchester and volunteer there on a regular basis.

• Volunteered at monthly birthday parties at Parkside Towers (Laclede). 

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