|November 5, 2012 • VOL. 50, NO. 19 • Oakland, CA|
With CCHD fundraising, money stays close to home
For the Kmhmú-Laotian Pastoral Center of Richmond, a $5,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development will go a long way toward helping to meet immediate needs.
Father MacKinnon and Sister Michaela have worked with the Kmhmú community for 20 years.
"Our people are very poor, but so upbeat, quite joyous people. They've survived war in Laos, and refugee camps in Thailand."
There are about 6,000 Kmhmú in the United States, with 1,000 in the Bay Area. Other communities in Seattle, Santa Ana, Stockton and Willows, and across the nation, look to the Richmond community as a leader.
California has hills and water "like home," Sister Michaela said.
"They aren't urban people," Sister Michaela said, but they have built a life of living in apartments, and sharing them in one of the area's most challenging cities.
Many of the people work part time — if they have a part-time job, they share it with two or three others, she said. The jobs are entry level: cleaning, assembly line and packing.
Through education, the children are doing well. Success stories include a lawyer, social worker and nurse.
The biggest medical problem the Kmhmú face in the United States is depression.
There is no written language. Sister Michaela said among the first things they did upon settling in the United States was to send tape recorders to their families in Laos, to tell them of their lives in their new home.
Working with the poor and helping them build better lives is one of the goals of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
"My heart has always been on fire for social justice," said the Rev. Aidan McAleenan, parochial administrator of St. Columba Church in Oakland, where a luncheon honoring the award recipients was held Sept. 26.
At the luncheon, Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill was honored for its continuing generosity in support of the annual collection. Christ the King gives more consistently than any other and they are not the richest parish in the diocese, the local committee members said in commending the parish.
They gave more than $10,000 to the campaign, in addition to the what they give to other social justice projects, especially its vibrant St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic school in West Oakland and the Monument Crisis Center. The parish also supports sale of fair-trade coffee and sponsor forums on social justice issues, the commendation noted.
Also honored was Ron Snyder, executive director of Oakland Community Organizations, whose roots in community organizing in Oakland extend to 1973. He received the lifetime achievement award.
OCO was among three organizations that received a national grant from the CCHD. OCO received $35,000. Congregations for Organizing for Renewal of Hayward got $25,000 and Women's Action to Gain Economic Security of Oakland and Concord received $45,000.
Among organizations receiving local grants of $5,000 were Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action; Community Resources for Independent Living, Hayward; Michael Chavez Center for Economic Opportunity, Concord; South Hayward Parish; United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County; and Youth Spirit Artworks, Berkeley.
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