WASHINGTON (October 17, 2001) -- The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), sponsored by the U.S. Catholic bishops and one of the largest private funders of self-help programs for the poor in the United States, is featured in an hour-long documentary, Among the People: Facing Poverty in America. The program will air Sunday, November 11, on the Hallmark channel at 7 a.m. ET/PT; 6 a.m. CT. Check local newspapers or http://hallmark.cablesource.net/start.asp to see whether local cable or satellite providers carry the Hallmark Channel. Subscribers to the Echostar/Dish Network and DirecTV receive the Hallmark Channel.
Among the People: Facing Poverty in America examines permanent strategies for overcoming chronic poverty in the United States. Despite recent years of unprecedented prosperity, more than 31 million Americans still live below the poverty line. " For them, life can mean a lonely fight to pay bills, find health care and simply make ends meet," according to the documentary's narrator. "Across America people of faith have found an answer in biblical teachings and are striving toward long-term solutions by attacking the causes of poverty together." Faith-based leaders express their views and share grass roots success in a timely documentary.
Sweat shop workers in New York city, migrant farm laborers in Oregon, ex-convicts in South Central LA–what do they all have in common? We are told they are all residents of America's 51st state: Poverty USA. More than 31 million live there, almost as many as live in the state of California. Many of its residents work full-time, at two jobs or even three, and still can barely make ends meet. One-sixth of all of America's children live there–a higher child poverty rate than most industrialized countries. "The vast majority of America's poor are working poor," says Katherine S. Newman, Ph.D., Professor of Urban Studies, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
"It's the people living in poverty who know best how to get out of it" says Rev. Robert J. Vitillo, Executive Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. "And when they are committed to take ownership in the projects they are starting, they then bring about change. They know best the solutions in their own areas."
Among the People looks at projects including:
- St. Joseph's Carpenter Society and Camden Churches Organized for People, two Camden, N.J., groups that work to solve an escalating housing crisis.
- Campo Azul, a migrant farm workers' camp in Portland, Ore., where residents knew that escaping poverty required much more than a reliance on 'hand-outs.' To change their situation demanded social action and breaking down stubborn barriers.
- Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches (LAM), where attacking poverty and gang violence in South Central Los Angeles, resulted in the creation of the GED Initiative. This unique remedial education program requires convicts to enroll in a high school equivalency class as a condition for parole. Passed by the state legislature, it is hailed as a great means of breaking the cycle of poverty.
- Ag Connect, in rural Iowa, helps family farms who suffer from a declining workforce. Ag Connect, founded in 1995 and funded by CCHD, brought together aspiring young farmers with older farmers looking to retire and in need of an exit strategy.
- Welfare to Work Initiative in South Bronx. A home healthcare firm filled a local need to help raise self-esteem and bring people off welfare. It made its workers part owners of the firm and gave them a chance to begin life anew.
- El Paso Inter-religious Sponsoring Organization (EPISO), along the Rio Grande River where low-income communities in Texas and New Mexico's border communities learned political action skills that ended a man-made drought. After eighteen years, fifty thousand families discovered running water in their homes for the first time.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is one of the largest private funders of self-help programs, initiated and led by poor people in the United States. Created by the U.S. Catholic bishops in 1970, it is committed to the permanent elimination of poverty and injustice in the United States. CCHD has supported more than 4,000 programs nationwide that know no racial or religious boundaries–projects that help create jobs, improve communities, and permanently break the cycle of poverty.
For more information, visit www.povertyusa.org or contact Barbara Stephenson, CCHD Director of Communications, at 202-541-3364 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org