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First Cycle Non-Emergency Special Needs Grants

Posted on May 1, 2019, by Marlene Spero SL

Many groups in our country and abroad are working hard to help provide needed goods and services for those who live on the margins of society. Each year Loretto sets aside funds to try to help, in some small way, organizations whose mission is to address some of the unmet needs in their communities. During this first cycle of funding for 2019 Special Needs Non-emergency Grants, the committee received 21 applications. Requests came from Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and from Bolivia and Pakistan. One or more Loretto sisters or co-members familiar with the work done by the submitting organization recommended each grant.

Special Needs Committee members Martha Alderson, Angela Bianco, Janet Rabideau, Ruth Routten and Barbara Schulte and I, as the group’s consultant, studied each request individually before meeting electronically by Zoom to determine allocations. The dollar amount requested by the applicants was approximately triple the amount of funds available for this round of allocations.  A second cycle will be in October 2019.

Funds were granted to the following groups:


Angelica Village, an intentional community that supports social change through community building with refugees, immigrants and homeless youth and families, recommended by Jean East; EarthLinks, an organization that provides paid, meaningful work to adults experiencing homelessness and economic poverty, connecting care for the poor and care for Earth, recommended by Cathy Mueller; Women’s Homeless Initiative, Capital Hill United Ministries, an interfaith group that provides meals, fellowship and overnight sanctuary for marginalized, vulnerable women, recommended by Cathy Mueller.


Loretto Child Care Center provides quality care to children of families in the Loretto area, many from low-income families.  Focus of this project is serving nutritional meals in a safe environment and teaching students care for Earth by an expanded recycling program, recommended by Kay Carlew and Marie Lourde Steckler; St. Vincent Mission in David is dedicated to helping the poor in Appalachia by providing transportation help, crises management and educational materials for students. Families are encouraged to participate in community service, helping with mission programs such as the garden and food pantry programs, recommended by Pat Frueh.


Parish of St. Paul in Newton Highland is a collaborative, interfaith group that provides sanctuary to undocumented families at risk of parent/child separation and parent deportation. Various persons provide for physical/medical, educational, social/emotional and legal needs as the immigrant families prepare for the next stage of their journey to a permanent home, recommended by Mary Lou Pierron.


World Community Center is composed of smaller organizations addressing racial justice, immigration and peace. The groups promote networking and collaboration with others as they strive to address unmet needs locally and/or global needs locally, recommended by Barbara Roche.


El Paso Villa Maria is a transitional shelter for women who are homeless. Case management services provide important access to medical and mental healthcare, counseling, substance abuse outpatient treatment, education, career training, legal advocacy, job searches, savings plans and affordable housing finds. While in residence at Villa Maria persons are empowered to make a transition from homelessness to sustainability, recommended by Mary Margaret Murphy and Helen Santamaria.


Haiti Committee at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Arlington has a mission to support chapel schools serving more than 800 persons in Medor, Haiti. Providing a good education is a matter of justice, a way out of poverty and the way to bring about social change to this remote area, recommended by Donna Day; Iraqi and Syrian Student Project, a grassroots coalition of people from various faith-based communities concerned about the education and well-being of Iraqi and Syrian women and youth. This group secures college scholarships and provides support for students during their studies in welcoming countries, recommended by Theresa Kubasak.


La Paz: CEPROSI (Center for the Promotion of Integral Health), seeks to promote human rights to proper food.  It also aims to provide education about how to access benefits of a newly passed law aimed at providing better health and nutrition to the area’s indigenous population, recommended by Mary Peter Bruce and Ana Maria Vargas Sandoval.


Lahore: Loretto in Pakistan desires to raise chickens and rabbits that will help provide food for families trying to feed their entire household on approximately $2 per day. The main focus will be the many malnourished children and their families who attend school where the sisters serve, recommended by Nasreen Daniel and Maria Daniel.

Applications for the fall funding cycle will be due Oct. 15. Grant requirements and application forms may be found on the Loretto Community website.


Marlene Spero SL

Marlene, who in 2019 is celebrating her 60th year as a Sister of Loretto, co-directed and developed a master of arts in teaching program for Webster College in Kansas City, Mo., was a chemistry instructor and program director of humanities and sciences at Loretto Heights College in Denver, and served as bookkeeper and co-coordinator at the Denver Loretto Center and in elected leadership for the Loretto Community. She now resides at Loretto Motherhouse.
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