2011 Annual Report – Community Life

February 04, 2014

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Community Life Standing Committee
Barb Dowding, Chairperson
2011 Annual Report

Sub-committee chairpersons: 
Life Member Pat Battensby – Human trafficking
Life Member Diane Lemay ‒ Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace

Centred on Faith & Justice, members exemplified and lived out this mandate as Women of Peace and Hope. With empathy, compassion and generosity, members embraced the all-encompassing standing committee of community life which is so broad it offers choices and opportunities for everyone. With poverty the focus, members did their part to alleviate this scourge on our society.

Dignity and Rights of Persons  
Trafficking and family violence remained a priority. Members attended the play “She Has a Name” and watched documentaries about the sex trade. The Dignity for All campaign was supported and many councils signed petitions to help eliminate poverty in Canada. Others supported Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and helped with Inn From the Cold. Guest speakers were invited to meetings and one council hosted a speaker from the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation that researches the causes, incidence and forms of treatment of family violence. Workshops were presented on trafficking; life-styles and women’s rights were discussed and the child of a rape victim was a speaker. Members attended a conference on social justice and human trafficking, and presentations were made on International Justice Mission Canada.

Most councils focussed on Women Against Poverty and “Change for Change”. One initiative was to raise money for Ratanak International, a Christian organization that rescues children from the sex trade. The needs of the Aboriginal community and awareness of the issues including the need for subsidized housing and the alarming number of First Nations women who are trafficked in Canada was a focus of many councils. One council presented the DVD And the Lord said GO which initiated outreach to those in need in the diocese, especially the First Nations community.

Social and Economic Justice 
Members financially supported women’s shelters, half-way homes, crisis centres and homes for abused women in transition and volunteered their time and assistance. Food, clothing and household items were collected and delivered to the homeless, local missions, school snack programs, soup kitchens and shelters. One council started a food bank while another contributed to the creation of an eviction prevention program. Councils supported Meals on Wheels, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Covenant House, Lurana Shelter, Sign of Hope, The Salvation Army, youth emergency shelters and Homeless Connect. Members took calls on the crisis phone line for Our Lady of Good Counsel Domestic Abuse Services and reached out to those who were mentally and physically challenged living on the streets.

Refugees, Immigration and Citizenship 
Welcome receptions for new Canadians continued nationwide. Members provided transportation to new immigrants and offered companionship, a listening ear or even advocacy support when needed. One council provided items for a “refugee welcoming kit” while another reported rescuing a refugee from an abusive situation. Members were very aware of the needs of migrant and temporary or seasonal workers and invited them to mass, offered social activity and reached out in a spirit of welcome.

One council celebrated Canadian Citizenship Week by testing its members’ knowledge of Canada and reading The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. They hosted or participated in Remembrance Day services and blessing of the boats.

Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP) 
Members promoted the work done around the world through over 200 sustainable projects. All councils took part in some way either promoting the annual appeals, particularly Share Lent and Water for All, or continuing to boycott bottled water. Presenters spoke on the projects in Bolivia, Nigeria and Afghanistan. One council hosted a hunger meal during Lent; others participated in the first harvest dinner hosted by CCODP, and still others supported the post card campaign on mining and water.

Donations were collected for humanitarian causes especially for Japanese tsunami victims, the Horn of Africa famine fund and the rebuilding in Haiti.

Developing Countries 
Councils supported many international aid groups including Caritas Internationalis, Chalice, Operation Christmas Child, Habitat for Humanity, Canadian Food for Children, Save a Family Plan, Child Care International, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and Help Lesotho.

Care packages of personal items, school supplies and financial donations were sent to Haiti, Africa, India, Zambia, Central America and the Philippines as well as to Kenya, Darfur and Tanzania for relief efforts. One council went to Guatemala to teach sewing and gardening to women and children.

Councils sponsored orphanages in Nigeria and Romania and supported Free the Children and Sleeping Children Around the World. Members sponsored children and families with one council joining an interfaith endeavour to sponsor a family from the Congo. Support was given to Buy-A-Net Malaria Prevention Group and to fair trade as an initiative to make living conditions in developing countries better. One council reported 3,009 hours of volunteer time.

Members demonstrated hearts for justice guided by the Objects of the League and Catholic social teaching putting their faith into action for service to the people of God.