USCCB News Release
February 23, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Father John Baumann Honored by CCHD for Community-Based Initiatives that Empower the Poor
WASHINGTON—Jesuit Father John A. Baumann received the 2009 Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award for his efforts to create a national network of community self-help organizations. The national award is given annually by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops that puts Catholic social teaching into action by supporting local organization that empower the poor. The award was presented on February 22 at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering.
Father Baumann is founder and past Executive Director of People Improving Communities through Organizing (formerly the Pacific Institute of Community Organizing) or PICO, a network of community organizations in low-income neighborhoods. Drawing on his deep commitment to Catholic social teaching, he founded PICO in 1972 as a training institute to help neighborhood organizations empower low-income people in Oakland, Calif.
With the creation of PICO, Father Baumann developed a successful new congregation-community model of organizing that invited Catholic parishioners and other people of faith to work as partners with the poor to address public safety, housing rehabilitation, educational innovation and reform, health insurance for the working poor, employment, and public improvements. In his 37 years with PICO, Father Baumann has been at the heart of a network of more than 1,000 member institutions in 150 cities and towns in 17 states. From his vision and leadership, the PICO network now has begun to grow in Central America and Africa as well.
The success of PICO to obtain regional, then state funding for health care for poor families played an important role in raising awareness and leveraging federal funding for health care for children in low-income families. As PICO's new Director of Special Projects, Father Baumann will continue to work with Catholic clergy and focus on international organizing.
Congratulating him for his award, Sharon Bridgeforth, past-Chair of Metro Organizations for People, a PICO organization in Denver, thanked Father Baumann "for his vision of bringing the Kingdom of God on earth and for the honor to be a part of it."
The Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award is 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. It honors an individual or group that exemplifies a commitment to the development of people and the elimination of poverty. Recipients of this award have made significant contributions to human development and have offered heroic responses to the needs of the economically disadvantaged. The award was established in 1987.
Ralph McCloud, CCHD Executive Director, said, "Father Bauman has spent his life in service to the poor. He has distinguished himself by insisting that the voices of the poor are not just heard but heeded. He is an ideal selection for this year's Cafferty Award."