This marks the sixth year that Catonsville Presbyterian Church has awarded grants from the Envision Fund to serve as seed money for projects that enrich our world locally, nationally, and internationally. Our board evaluates projects for funding in the categories of Development, Mission, Peace and Justice Advocacy as well as Capital Improvements. This year we made a few changes due to the pandemic. For the first time we added a June 1st application cycle since projects identified in late February could differ from what these organizations need in response to our challenging times. Additionally, we will accept applications again on October 15th of this year as we will be able to award just over $48,000 this fall.
Over the years these project have touched thousands of lives across the globe. Internationally we have supported projects in Nepal, Haiti, Tanzania, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Locally we’ve supported projects within our church community, Catonsville and surrounding areas. The board continues to be extremely thankful for the generosity of Robert Riley, whose bequest established the Envision Fund. I’ve been humbled to serve on this board since its inception and appreciate the work of all those who have served as well as the support of the Session, Finance Committee and our church staff. We have chosen to support 7 proposals this spring and summer while awarding $111,695.
IMA COVID Isolation Ward
IMA World Health (International Mission and Development; $30,185, full funding)
IMA will use this funding to create a free standing COVID-19 Isolation Ward for Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo in response to the urgent needs of new patients. Prior to the pandemic a hotel adjacent to the hospital was purchased. This funding will assist with turning this building into a functioning isolation ward capable of holding and treating COVID-19 patients with an initial capacity of 24 beds and with the final capacity after the award to hold and treat up to 100 patients per month. Additional donors have been secured for this project including the local Ministry of Health, Heal Africa and Church of the Brethren.
Santi School Publishing
The Santi School, (International Development, Mission, Peace and Justice Advocacy; $10,000, partial funding)
The Santi School of Ramche, Nepal will self-publish children’s books as a complement to the mission of its teacher training program. Local cultural stories will be important topics. The project encourages children and their families to pursue book creation as an activity that is free within a largely disadvantaged ethnic minority community. The project will: (1) conduct writer’s workshops for teachers to brainstorm creative ideas around children’s books, (2) employ a local illustrator, (3) publish five titles, 250 copies each during each of the two years of the project, and (4) host a book launch event through a local cultural festival.
Workforce Development Project for Human Trafficking Survivors
HopeWorks of Howard County (Mission, Development, Peace and Justice Advocacy; $3,500, full funding)
HopeWorks will develop a pilot project specifically tailored to human trafficking survivors to whom they provide direct crisis intervention services. This workforce development project will provide human trafficking survivors specific coaching on skills needed to successfully secure employment while building self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth. A group of their clients will be given three 2-hour trainings sessions at their main office. The sessions include self-assertion and personality strength, resume, cover letter writing and interview skills.
CEA-Neighbor Helping Neighbors Be Safe
Catonsville Emergency Assistance (Mission, Local Capital Improvement: $20,000, full funding)
The safety of CEA’s clients and workers entering and exiting the building is of great importance. CEA will construct accessible ramps at the front and rear entrances to their building to allow safe access for clients, supporters and staff. The front ramp will be designed to better accommodate those clients using walkers, oxygen tanks, canes, crutches and electric scooters. MTA will also drop off at the front ramp. The rear ramp will allow better and easier delivery of food supplies into the building.
Strength to Love II
Strength to Love II – Intersection of Change (Mission, Peace and Justice Advocacy, Local Capital Improvement; $20,000, full funding)
Strength to Love II is an urban farm in the west Baltimore communities of Sandtown-Winchester and Upton. At this time of social distancing and the challenge of food distribution in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, this support will help strengthen a program offering healthy food sources and work opportunities. This funding will be used to complete the construction of a greenhouse and other landscaping maintenance. The farm includes greenhouses totaling 1.5 acres that produce organically grown produce for local food consumption and employment and workforce development to ex-offenders.
Interfaith Creation Care Network
Interfaith Partners of the Chesapeake (Mission, Development; $6,500, partial funding)
IPC will develop an online user-interactive map displaying the locations of all congregations involved in the Interfaith Creation Care Network (CPC is an important member) with details of each congregation’s activities with a point and click. IPC is a growing organization and this project represents an expansion of the work it has been doing for more than six years to engage and equip organizations and congregations. The addition of a user-interactive map cataloging all the engaged congregations’ activities would provide a permanent display of Creation Care purpose and values for institutions of faith. After the webpage map is created, stories will be collected from 30-40 congregations by the end of 2020.
Community Connector Electronic Sign
Knox Presbyterian Church (Local Capital Improvement; $21,695 full funding)
Knox Presbyterian at the corner of Preston and Eden Streets in Baltimore will use this funding to install an electronic billboard to promote weekly message topics, activities and programs being held at the church as well as other opportunities that would benefit the members of the community. There are many current needs for messaging services and connections to the community at large during this difficult time. While flyers are often distributed, announcements made in churches and organizational meetings, and information may be printed in newspapers or newsletter, local residents are often not aware of the many ways that they can get information, participate in events or take advantage of the many opportunities being offered.