Annual CCHD collection helps fund anti-poverty grants to organizations

November 11, 2014

HOUSTON — The annual U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s national collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is slated for Nov. 22 and 23, the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

The collection, which is taken up in parishes and dioceses nationwide, is the primary source of funding used by CCHD to provide grants to organizations and education programs that focus on breaking the cycle of poverty.

For more than 40 years, the CCHD has funded organizations that address the root causes of poverty.

An important program coordinated through the Archdiocesan Office of Justice and Peace, the CCHD serves to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and financial support of community-based, self-help organizations, and through transformative justice education. 
During its 30-year history, the campaign has funded more than 3,500 self-help projects developed by grassroots groups of poor persons across the United States. 

A second collection is taken on the Feast of Christ the King to fund CCHD. Deacon Sam Dunning, current and founding director of the Office of Justice and Peace, is responsible for administering these funds by awarding grants to locally based organizations. 

While some funds remain in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston after the collection, a significant portion goes to the national office of CCHD for distribution. According to Deacon Dunning, the Archdiocese typically benefits from 60 percent of those funds returning to fund local organizations. 

“There are many people who are very vulnerable living in our Archdiocese, such as those who formed the Living Hope Wheelchair Association, one of the local organizations supported by CCHD,” Dunning said. “They are not looking for a handout, but an opportunity to live in dignity in spite of their very serious challenges. I am proud the Church through CCHD is helping empower them.”

The Living Hope Wheelchair Association was founded in 2005 when the Harris Country Hospital District decided to stop providing necessary medical supplies to people with spinal cord injuries that were non-Medicaid eligible. 

Its mission is to improve the quality of life of individuals with spinal cord injuries or disease through services and advocacy, which includes improving access to services, promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities, fostering independence, enhancing mobility and demanding equality. Every month, it distributes essential medical supplies, such as catheters and diapers to those who need them, as well as provide moral and spiritual support to those who are recently injured and their families.

One of the founding members and current president of the Board of Living Hope, Noe Ramirez, said most of its members are immigrants who were low-wage workers before their injury, many suffering workplace accidents while working in construction or landscaping. 

Many were victims of crimes or car accidents. Ramirez knows first-hand what it is like to have a need for Living Hope’s services. He was run over by a drunk driver while bike riding to work and was abandoned on the side of the road. 

“Our group Living Hope Wheelchair Association is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever had in my life as it has given me the opportunity to help, along with my colleagues, others who are in the same condition,” Ramirez said. “It’s a way to transmit that we need to continue moving forward and never give up, to realize God kept us alive because he has a mission for each one of us. Now I can move my wheelchair by myself, use the computer, teach guitar lessons, and do many other things, including my visit to Washington D.C. last May to advocate for our rights as human beings.”

Ramirez said suffering a catastrophic spinal cord injury has a brutal impact in the life of a person and the way to survive is to put God at the center of their lives. 

He believes this faith and the support provided through group interaction at Living Hope allows them to continue living full and productive lives.
“Many of our members have told us how after their injury, Living Hope became their new family because only here they can find people that really understand them, and they get motivated when they see how there are others in their same situation that found the strength to fight for a new life,” Ramirez said. “We have seen the love of God expressed through solidarity and we are very grateful to the Office of Justice and Peace of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the CCHD whom have supported us since the beginning, first with small local grants and for the last three years with a national grant. We know that without this support we wouldn’t be where we are today, so many thanks Deacon Dunning and the many parishes in the Archdioceses that have always been there for us.”

For more information about the collection for CCHD and other national collections, visit