The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People has approved grants totaling $150,430 to 9 self-help projects in the United States.

The money comes from the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. The grants were approved at SDOP’s national committee meeting here May 20-21.

Projects range from a transitional housing and mentoring project of and for men in addiction recovery to a worker-owned cooperative of Latino immigrants seeking to gain economic security and empowerment through cleaning services.

SDOP enables members and non-members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to form partnerships with economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people in order to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

The projects and grants:

  • The Kurdish Youth of America, Fargo, N.D.: $20,000 to assist this 50-family member group ranging in age from 15-65 seeking to address the challenges Kurdish immigrants face in the following areas: legal status, higher education, business training and housing.
  • Association of Street Vendors, Chicago: $17,000 to enable a group of 60 Chicago street vendors to organize a campaign to establish a policy for selling prepared food on the streets. Currently the only license available is for peddlers and doesn’t cover selling prepared food, so the vendors are ticketed and harassed.
  • Oakland Avenue Community Garden and Greenhouse Cooperative, Detroit: $15,300 to assist a gardening/urban farming cooperative with providing healthy food to their families and community and generating income for its members by selling harvest at farmers’ markets and local restaurants.
  • The Alumni Group (TAG), Upland, Pa.: $20,000 to a transitional housing and mentoring project of and for men in recovery from addictions. The men have realized that mentoring is a vital part of their recovery from addictions and is something that is missing from the general recovery process. The recidivism rate of active TAG members (who are at the same time mentors and mentees) is much lower than that of non-TAG members. The transitional housing helps TAG members transition successfully from the structured environment of rehab programs to working, serving and living in the community.
  • Worcester Homeless Action Committee, Worcester, Mass.: $10,000 to a coalition of current and former homeless persons who have advocated for change in how Worcester handles the release of those with mental illness and substance abuse. The group will use the grant to help create affordable housing for extremely low-income persons in Worcester.
  • Movement for Justice in El Barrio, New York: $20,000 to this group of low-income, mostly Hispanic immigrant, people of color who live in the Upper Manhattan/East Harlem area of New York City known as “El Barrio” or Spanish Harlem. They have come together to tackle issues with landlords, such as ignoring basic necessary repairs and not providing heat and hot water.  The tenants are developing their leadership skills and educating residents of their tenant rights.
  • Heroes Today, Chester, Pa.: $13,130 to this group of mainly veterans who reach out to, work with and organize other veterans who are emotionally and physically distressed. The group works with veterans who are discharged from the military with problems such as depression, adjustment disorder, severe anxiety and alcohol and drug addictions.
  • Home Cleaning Professionals, Asheville, N.C.: $15,000 to a worker-owned cooperative of Latino immigrants seeking to gain economic security and empowerment by offering high-quality cleaning services. The project provides immediate income for the families and helps to build financial stability.
  • Serve the People, Inc., Miami, Fla.: $20,000 to this group is mainly composed of single mothers and grandmothers who are at risk of losing their homes. They are learning to confront local officials and policy makers concerning low-income housing policy. The project’s goal is to get those directly impacted by the housing crisis into decision-making positions on boards where policy is decided.

Committee members also visited with SDOP prospective partners, staff and members of the Synod of the Covenant and Detroit Presbytery SDOP Committees during a dinner hosted at the Don Bosco Community Center.

At this same meeting the following officers were elected:

Chairperson: Michael Fagans, Bakersfield, Calif. (Renominated)

Vice-Chairperson: Karen Finney, Santa Fe, N.M. (Renominated)

Task Forces

International: Paul Bayerl, Summerville, Ga.

Midwest: Bernadette Hightower-Hughes, Sartell, M.N. (Renominated)

Northeast: Oscar Heyward, Queens, N.Y. (Renominated)

South: Joseph Johnson, Dothan, Ala.

West: Joe Love-Nelson, Lubbock Texas (Renominated)

Standing Committees

Church-wide Relations: Dianne Kareha, Allentown, N.J. (Renominated)

Community Relations: Selma Jackson, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Renominated)


Karen Finney (the Vice-Chairperson automatically serves as Chairperson of this Committee)