WASHINGTON (February 22, 2002) -- Ann Helmke and John Tippmann will receive the Year 2002 Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award for their work with homeless families in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The award is given annually by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, and will be presented in Washington, D.C., Feb. 24.
Ms. Helmke is the Director and Mr. Tippmann is the Chairman of the Board of Vincent House, a transitional shelter for homeless families. With the encouragement of Bishop John M. D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Vincent House opened in a renovated former convent in 1989 and has housed more than 300 families. It provides shelter, basic needs, support services and case management for families as they work toward self-sufficiency and permanent housing. In recent years, it has launched Vincent Village, a growing neighborhood of renovated single-family homes in the Vincent House neighborhood that are rented at below-market rates to working families who are ready to leave the transitional shelter.
Vincent House is the only shelter in its county to serve homeless married couples and single fathers with children. Ms. Helmke said, "If we can keep families together during a crisis situation, we can help them become more stable in the future." She credits the success of Vincent House to its ecumenical and interreligious support and its ability to grow with the needs of the people it serves. "It became clear to me that the families who came to our shelter and became self-sufficient had no place affordable to move to. Either the housing available was too expensive for their income or they landed in substandard housing," she said. Both eroded the gains made during their stay at Vincent House. Now, Vincent Village is helping working families develop roots, while stabilizing and improving the neighborhood. "The long-range plan is to help low-income families own their homes," said Ms. Helmke.
Mr. Tippmann brings a unique perspective on housing to the Vincent House board. He is one of 17 children and is Chairman of the Board of the Tippmann Group, which manages three companies devoted to construction, property management and warehousing. He is a founding board member of Vincent House, and has been involved in a variety of activities and charitable organizations throughout the diocese.
The Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award, named in memory of the late Presentation Sister who served as executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and a member of the Catholic Bishops' Committee for CCHD, honors individuals whose lives exemplify a commitment to the development of people and the elimination of poverty. Recipients of this award have made significant contributions to human development in the recognition of poverty and have offered heroic responses to the needs of the economically disadvantaged. The award was established in 1987 and was called the Development of People Award until 1997, when it was renamed in Sister Margaret Cafferty's honor.
Fr. Robert Vitillo, CCHD Executive Director, said, "Under the leadership of Ann Helmke and John Tippmann, Vincent House is a thriving example of the CCHD mission to help people break the cycle of poverty. Supporting homeless families and giving them the skills and opportunity to set roots in the community makes it much more likely that their children will grow up in a stable environment and escape the bonds of homelessness."
CCHD is the largest private funder of anti-poverty programs controlled by the poor in the United States. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops established the Campaign in 1970 to support self-help efforts of low-income people and to address the root causes of poverty. CCHD helps Catholics put into practice the biblical mandate to love your neighbor, and helps them gain a deeper appreciation of the Church's social teaching. CCHD has distributed more than $260 million in grants to nearly 4,000 projects dedicated to helping people overcome their own poverty.
Fr. Vitillo will present the award to Ms. Helmke and Mr. Tippmann on Sunday, February 24, during the Annual Catholic Social Ministry Meeting. The theme for the February 24-27 meeting is "Catholic Social Mission: Seeking Justice, Overcoming Poverty, Building Peace."
For additional information, contact Barbara Stephenson, CCHD, 202-541-3364, or consult CCHD's website: www.usccb.org/cchd