By Karen Hurley, Mary’s Pence Board Member
“What did you learn tonight about Mary’s Pence?” That’s the question Mary’s Pence Executive Director Katherine Wojtan posed to me after a gathering of Mary’s Pence supporters and grantees in Kansas City, MO.
My reply: That our small project grants really do make a difference!”
Evidence: Reports from two grantees—once current and one from a decade ago. Read on…
Katherine and I were in Kansas City to promote Mary’s Pence at the annual convention of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (more on that later), and we had invited supporters to come and learn about a recent Kansas City grantee, The Justice Project. This grantee provides grassroots support for women in poverty (especially women coming out of prostitution and transgender women) as well as advocacy to improve the local social services and justice systems. Co-founder Kris Wade was the featured presenter. The place we gathered, Amethyst Place, was a grantee from many years earlier. Their current director, Kim Davis, attended.
I have always wondered just how much of an impact our small project grants (c. $4,000) actually make. So I asked both Kim and Kris what difference their grants made.
Kris immediately began listing all the things that our $4,000 helped to cover for The Justice Project on a day-to-day basis: new ID cards for women; the cost to copy all the paperwork involved in untangling legal issues; transportation to court appearances—and much more. Each of these may cost only a few dollars, Kris said, but they are dollars that The Justice Project does not have without Mary’s Pence support.
Kim then told of the growth of Amethyst Place since they had received their Mary’s Pence grant almost a decade ago. They have grown from a fledgling organization providing housing and support to nine homeless and addicted women to today’s organization that runs a complex of buildings that serves 46 women and their children. Our grant came at a crucial time when they were struggling to get established, Kim said.
Sitting at the table with Kris and Kim, I was convinced. Mary’s Pence Grants do make a difference! I was also very proud to be a board member and donor.
P.S.: About that Catholic Legal Immigration conference: This organization, known by the acronym CLINIC, connects with Catholic Charities in each U.S. diocese to help with advocacy and resettlement of immigrants (refugees and asylum seekers). Katherine and I attended in the hopes of attracting new supporters to Mary’s Pence from the over 400 participants. There were many young Catholics at this convening and a surprising number who were first- or second-generation Mexicans or Central Americans. They seemed very open to Mary Pence’s message, and we are looking forward to building a relationship with them in the future!