Recently, our SJA Justice Grant committee awarded grants totaling $53,000 to 15 organizations. These organizations are local and global, peacemaking, systems changing and community building – and each one includes St. Joan of Arc parishioners as committed volunteers and leaders. We are so proud to partner with you, the community of St. Joan of Arc, in your efforts to bring God’s love and justice to the world. This is our list:
From Me to You Clothing Ministry: El Bethel Baptist Church: $3000 to rehab this free store, just blocks from SJA, that provides neighbors with clothing and household goods. Letters of support from parishioner volunteers Natalie and Lynn Roloff, John and Jolene Madden and Carol and Bob Ostrowski. What we learned: Neighborhood children and children currently in homeless shelters are invited weekly to El Bethel for dinner and academic and life skills classes. SJAers often prepare and serve the meal.
Muslim Peacemaker Teams: $5000 for Iraqi-led efforts including the maintenance of more than 100 water filtration systems installed in hospitals and schools by MPT; the “Let’s Make Najaf Green” tree-planting project and the establishment of a bookstore by Iraqi youth to encourage reading and provide a safe location to read. Letters of support from Bill Adamski and Audrey Kvist. What we learned: The constant presence of heavy machinery during the war broke the crust of the desert, increasing sandstorms and posing enormous health concerns. The tree planting project helps to decrease the negative effects of sandstorms and brings beauty to Najaf – for $5 a tree.
Penumbra Theatre: $3500 to underwrite tickets to Penumbra’s incredible performances of “Black Nativity” for traditionally underserved attendees who are clients of partner human rights advocacy organizations. Letters of support from parishioners Mark McLellan and Kate Hauer. What we learned: Penumbra partners with a multitude of organizations to expand their work for racial justice and equity through productions and community engagement.
Risen Christ Catholic School: $5000 to provide tuition assistance for low-income families seeking the wonderful education and community that this south Minneapolis school provides. Letters of support from parishioner volunteers Jerry Pope and David and Kathy Nesset. What we learned: 33% of Minneapolis children live in poverty; 96% of Risen Christ’s families live in poverty. Risen Christ emphasizes literacy, dual immersion (Spanish/English), college readiness and mentoring to help children and families succeed.
Alafia Foundation Fellowship Program: $4000 to support and develop visionary community leaders from Minneapolis’ North Side. Leaders of community initiatives are invited to apply for a 3 year fellowship that provides a small stipend and educational and professional support. Letters of support from parishioner volunteers Brian Mogren and Damien Poling. What we learned: Mary Johnson is a current fellow – many SJAers may remember when she shared her powerful story of reconciling with the young man who killed her son. Mary is the founder of From Death to Life.
Give Us Wings: $3500 for the Mushroom Growing Cooperative in Nyaoga, Kenya, a grassroots initiative which will provide 90 women in the community with training in agri-business and organic mushroom farming as both a food and cash crop. Letters of support from parishioner volunteers Doris Rausch and Kristin Peterson and Scott Antin. What we learned: This is the next phase of a successful 16 year women’s health, education and business initiative in an area of Kenya where most people live on less than $350 a year and the rate of HIV/AIDS infection is the highest in the country.
Store to Door: $3000 to help seniors live independently in their homes with regular personal contact and grocery shopping and delivery. Letters of support from parishioners Cathy Borer and Larry Valley. What we learned: In the last fiscal year, Store to Door made 22,202 deliveries to a total of 1798 elderly clients in the metro area, 85% of whom live alone.
Urban Homeworks, Inc: $5000 to expand volunteer efforts in rehabbing and preparing housing stock in North Minneapolis, South Minneapolis and Frogtown in St. Paul, to provide beautiful and affordable housing to low income families. Letters of support from parishioner volunteers John Wozniak and Carlos Grados. What we learned: UH partners yearly with over 60 local minority and female subcontractors and more than 1000 volunteers to restore housing.
Centro Guadalupano: $3500 to provide English as a Second Language and other educational programs to families in the Phillips community, more than 90% of whom are immigrants and a majority of whom live on a median household income of less than $10,000 a year. Letters of support from parishioner volunteers Susan Schirber and Kris Trelles. What we learned: The after school program offers 2 hours of math and reading instruction in English as well as a cultural component in Spanish to honor and help maintain the cultural heritage of the children.
Hope Multipurpose, Inc. – The Blue House: $3500 to expand educational opportunities for young women in Uganda who were orphaned by AIDS and other diseases. Letters of support from parishioners Colleen Hagerty and Katie Coldwell. What we learned: 3 young women who grew up at The Blue House have been accepted to Makerere University, one of East Africa’s premier universities (at a cost of $2000-2800 a year).
Doing Good Together: $1000 to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities for Head Start children to engage in with their families. Letters of support from parishioners Marie Bissonette and Diana Allard. What we learned: Often, low-income families do not have opportunities to volunteer together in their community, and research shows that volunteering greatly improves a child’s sense of empathy, connection to the community and academic skills.
Mission Haiti, Inc.: $3000 to partner with the people of Leogane,Haiti in educational, elder care and sustainable agricultural projects. Letters of support from parishioners Susie Slater, Sheila Willette and Mary Gilligan-O’Rourke. What we learned: SJAers will be traveling to Haiti in early 2016 to create and develop a video of the work going on through Mission Haiti.
Bridging: $4000 to help serve more than 4000 families, many of whom are transiting from homelessness, with quality furniture and housewares to set up their home. Letters of support from parishioner volunteers Alice Murphy and Ann-Marie Esposito. What we learned: Bridging has implemented a new Advocacy Committee, to discern opportunities for staff, volunteers and clients to advocate for safe and affordable housing.
Protect Minnesota: $1500 to help end gun violence with a special initiative led by gun violence survivors, their families and communities in a faith outreach effort. Letters of support from parishioner volunteers Fred and Betty Beier and Betty Culver. What we learned: In 2013, more than 60% of the gun-related bills that were passed at the state level nationwide actually loosened gun restrictions and increased access to guns.
SocMed: $4500 to host an international symposium on social medicine here in the Twin Cities. Social medicine proponents view community engagement and social change as essential to making lasting improvements in health. Letters of support from parishioner volunteers Amy Finnegan and Kelly Sardon Garrity. What we learned: SocMed trains future health professionals around the world to ensure that the poor and vulnerable in the communities they serve are able to receive quality health care that respects their human dignity.
WOW. Imagine the people and communities near and far who are impacted by the work of these organizations. Our thanks to all of our partners, to the parishioners who volunteer with them, to the members of our SJA Justice Grant committee who lead our grant process, and to all those who contribute to the SJA Outreach Fund, which makes these grants possible. Our next grant cycle closes May 1, 2016. For info or an application, or to learn how you can donate to our Outreach Fund, contact Julie Madden at jmadden [at] stjoan.com or 612.823.8205x228.