ST. LOUIS, Nov. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) has received a $500,000 grant from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops-Catholic Campaign for Human Development (USCCB-CCHD) for a national program to help reintegrate ex-offenders into the community. This is the first national grant by USCCB-CCHD.
SVdP's program is titled National Ex-Offender Re-Entry Program, and the grant is subject for renewal up to five years, for a total of $2.5 million. SVdP will administer the grant and hire a national project coordinator. The grant will involve those chapters of the Society that have an existing prison outreach program and will focus initially on the following areas: Orlando, Fla.; Cincinnati, Ohio; New Orleans, La.; Boston, Mass.; and Milwaukee, Wis.
"We're grateful to the Catholic bishops' Campaign for Human Development because we believe this program offers a much more promising outcome for helping people who emerge from prison to become productive citizens again," said Dave Barringer, chief executive officer of SVdP. "Men and women who come out of prison are at great risk of falling into poverty. Employers may be reluctant to hire them, landlords may be wary of taking them as tenants, and they often struggle to re-establish relationships with their families."
Barringer said a unique feature of the program is the combination of approaches to the issue: the Society's face-to-face meeting to identify basic needs and create a plan to succeed, partnered with a community-organizing model. As the ex-offenders make their way through the program, the expectation is that they will take on leadership positions, particularly as role models and mentors to those coming into the program behind them.
"The program may look a bit different in each community, but we will be documenting our successes and challenges so we can identify successful features that can be replicated," said Barringer. "The ultimate goal is to increase the odds for ex-offenders to lead a healthier, more fulfilling life."
About the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (www.svdpusa.org) is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of more than 770,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 149 countries on five continents. With the U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., membership in the United States totals approximately 149,000 in more than 4,300 communities. Programs include home visits, housing assistance, disaster relief, job training and placement, food pantries, dining halls, clothing, transportation and utility costs, care for the sick, the incarcerated and the elderly, and prescription medicine. Last year, SVdP volunteers and staff performed approximately 11.5 million service hours, provided approximately $767 million in tangible and in-kind services, made more than 1.6 million person-to-person visits (homes, hospitals and prisons), and helped almost 15 million people regardless of race, religion or national origin.
About the Catholic Campaign for Human Development
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the domestic, anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Catholic bishops. Its mission is to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community-controlled, self-help organizations and through transformative education. Founded in 1969, CCHD's pastoral strategy is empowerment of the poor through a methodology of participation and education for justice, leading toward solidarity between poor and non-poor as impelled by the Church's biblical tradition, modern Catholic social teaching, and the pervasive presence of poverty in the United States. The grants, economic development, and education for justice programs of the Campaign, implemented in collaboration with local dioceses, are supported from an annual collection in U.S. Catholic parishes.
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SOURCE The National Council of the U.S. Society of St. Vincent de Paul