Community Connections

by Denise Murrow, Director of Precious Blood Resource Services

On October 25, 2019, Community Connections Coalition held a resource fair at the Good Samaritan Center in Excelsior Springs for those in need. Precious Blood Resource Services(PBRS) was one of twenty other service providers who participated in the fair. Those who attended were assigned a companion to walk with them as they visited with the service providers that could meet their needs in the areas of housing, mental health, physical health, employment, and many other services. Attendees were able to pick out any clothing that they needed. Free haircuts were given, and lunch was provided by the culinary school at Excelsior Springs Job Corps. One woman and her husband who attended was very excited about the fair. She stated that she and her husband were homeless and walked all the way from Texas and came to Excelsior Springs. She said that a few agencies who were at the fair, including Good Samaritan Center, helped them with resources such as clothes, food, emergency assistance, and moral support. Now they both have jobs and a home to live in. Overall, the fair was able to help 78 people from 30 households.

The coalition holds this resource fair twice a year and is hosted by the Good Samaritan Center who provides emergency financial assistance, a food pantry, clothing, senior services, and special programs. Transportation has always been a major issue in the rural areas of Missouri such as Excelsior Springs. These fairs allow those who are low income, homeless or at risk of being homeless in Excelsior Springs to have access to services without having to travel long distances to get to agencies that can assist them.

Precious Blood Ministries Team up to Support Parents

by Dennis Coday, Director of Program Development, PBRC

Precious Blood Resource Services and Precious Blood Renewal Center are teaming up to help people faced with the challenges (and joys!) of raising children.

The two provincial ministries will be hosting Parent Cafes that are open to anyone who has the responsibility of raising children: parents, grandparents, foster parents, aunts and uncles, even older siblings.

Participants are being recruited through community channels, local school districts, and social service agencies in the Liberty-Kansas City north area. At the Parent Café, they join in a series of structured, small-group conversations that promote peer-to-peer learning and deep self-reflection.

The small-group conversations are facilitated by leaders who have been trained in the Parent Café protocol and procedures. Childcare is provided, so participants can fully join in the discussions. A meal is also available for families to share before the program begins.

The first Café at Precious Blood Renewal Center is Nov. 5, 12 and 19. Other cafes will be scheduled in the winter and spring.

The idea of the café is not to dispense parenting advice, but to promote networking and sharing among new and experienced parents so that solutions can be found in the wisdom of the group, said Denise Murrow, a Precious Blood Companion and director of Precious Blood Resource Services.

Murrow learned of the Parent Café concept through her contacts in the family social services agencies in the area and thought hosting a café at Precious Blood Renewal Center would be an ideal set up.

Precious Blood Resource Services is a ministry of accompaniment, Murrow said, so the idea of accompanying people who raise children through the Parent Café seemed an ideal project to adopt. And the Renewal Center – with its large, beautiful gathering space and kitchen facilities — seemed an ideal place to host a café.

“It’s a way for our two ministries to build bonds in the community, with other social service agencies and with individuals in the community,” Murrow said. “Isn’t that what the New Creation is about?” she asked. “All of us collaborating together?”

Murrow brought the idea to the Renewal Center team, who embraced it with enthusiasm.

“It’s a perfect fit for the mission of the Renewal Center,” explained Lucia Ferrara, Hospitality Director of Precious Blood Renewal Center. “We say we are a safe and sacred place for healing and reconciliation. [The Parent Café] will be for the parents a safe place to express their ideas, concerns and fears about parenting.”

“They also know that what they say here, stays here. And they know [what they say here] will be accepted,” Ferrara said, “When they leave, they will leave with a renewed spirit because of solidarity with other parents who have gone through the same things.”

“We want families, parents, grandparents to feel welcomed. We want the community to come together for the good of the kids,” said Ferrara, who has completed training to host the café and facilitate table discussions.

Companion Mary George has also completed the Parent Café training and will be working with Murrow and Ferrara to host the cafes at the Renewal Center. “When Denise came to me with the information about Parent Café I felt a calling to ‘Step out, Stand up and Speak clearly about the Precious Blood of Jesus,’ which, as you know, is part of our Companion Vision Statement,” George said.

“Being a part of Parent Café is a way for me to bring hope and renewal to families in my community,” she said.

Ferrara also has a personal reason for welcoming the Parent Cafes. She and her husband, Michael, fostered children in their home for several years. “At that time, we weren’t given any resources that could have helped us out,” she said. Sometimes, they felt isolated and on their own.

“I wanted to be part of something that helps parents be aware that others are going through similar things,” Ferrara said. “Every family has its own set of challenges, but [the Parent Café] lets people know they aren’t alone in the experience of raising children.”

George, too, brings past experience to the Parent Café. “I was a Stephen Minister for several years at St. James–Liberty and learned to walk with people who were dealing with difficult life situations,” she said. “A major part of the walk was listening and not judging, which are two of the Parent Café Agreements that are explained at the beginning of each Café.”

Ferrara also likes how the cafes are structured. “We’re not telling people what to do or how to be good parents.”

The Parent Café, she said, “draws on the wisdom that is found in all of us. Finding that wisdom and being able to share it with others — sharing in each other’s wisdom — that’s how the café works.”

Details about the Parent Café can be found here.

If you know someone who might be interested in attending the café, direct them to this webpage to register or to get more information.

If you are interested in a volunteer opportunity with the café, contact Murrow or Ferrara.

The project is supported by the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative, from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Precious Blood Resource Services Participates in KCPD Outreach Event

PBRS at KCPD event

PBRS Volunteers talk with a child who attended the outreach event

PBRS volunteers at KCPD event-2

Denise Murrow, Officer William Keeney, Mary George, and Dee Baker

by Denise Murrow, PBRS Director

One of Kansas City’s biggest community outreach events of the year, Kansas City United Against Crime, took place on October 5, at six different locations throughout Kansas City. Precious Blood Resource Services (PBRS) participated at the Eagle Heights Baptist Church event in North Kansas City. It was hosted by the Shoal Creek Patrol Division of the Kansas City Police Department.

The event provided food, activities for children, police displays, and representatives of community resource organizations. Those in attendance included medical, mental health, financial, crime prevention and other vendors who help the community. Precious Blood Resource Services participated by helping attendees connect with services like rent assistance and medical exams. PBRS volunteers not only gave time with those with immediate need but also gave them assurance of follow-up calls after the event.

Go Back to the Drawing Board

by Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director

Last week the Trump administration announced a new immigration plan with family visas greatly reduced and no mention of Dreamers. This plan is not the just and comprehensive reform of our immigration system that we as a Precious Blood community envision in our corporate stance. The President and his administration must go back to square one to come up with a truly comprehensive, and just reform of our broken immigration system.

President Trump outlined his plan for “modernizing our immigration system for a stronger America,” where he aims to impose more new security measures at the border, dismantle the asylum process, and vastly scale back the system of family-based immigration which has allowed immigrants to bring their spouses and children to live with them. Over the last two years, this administration’s immigration policy has resulted in a ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries, separation of families at the border, closing the border to asylum seekers and an obsessive desire to build a wall along the U.S.—Mexico border.

As Precious Blood Missionaries we are called to have a love and respect for the poor and the vulnerable in our midst and to recognize the dignity in every human being. It is because of this that we are called to advocate for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Our history tells us that this country was built by immigrants who left their homes under difficult circumstances to make a new life for themselves. This administration’s “new” plan does not address the reality of those who are presently fleeing from violence and oppressive poverty. President Trump forgets that America is stronger when we embrace diversity and work together.

The requirements of this new plan are not in keeping with the Gospel of Jesus, who welcomed all people. Therefore, we advocate that we meet the needs of all vulnerable people. This “new” plan sounds very much like the policies of the last two years, which has served as a sad narrative seeking to demonize and dehumanize our immigrant neighbors. We should urge our President and his administration to go back to the drawing board and find solutions for the common good.

St. Agnes Parish Collaborates With One LA for “Right to Counsel” Proposal

from Fr. David Matz, C.PP.S.
I have been working with One LA and with the Mayor’s office for 2 years on the “right to counsel” proposal for renters. This proposal’s history started at St. Agnes Parish in Los Angeles, where I serve as the pastor. We have done two workshops in the past two years helping our parishioners who are tenants know their rights when it comes to renting and possible illegal eviction. We now in Los Angeles sit on the cusp of a budget proposal to fund this program for the coming year. The following article from One LA’s newsletter explains the latest news conference.

One LA Urges Mayor to Fund a Renters’ “Right to Counsel” 

At a news conference Thursday outside City Hall, One LA and a coalition of tenant advocates pressed for the city to move forward with a “right to counsel” ordinance and called on Mayor Eric Garcetti to allocate $10 million to assist tenants in his upcoming budget.

“We have a humanitarian crisis in our city in regards to homelessness and housing,” said Fr. David Matz of St. Agnes Catholic Church. “In the last ten years we have lost one thousand families from our parish due to these issues. Many of our elderly are forced out of their apartments and left homeless.”

Every year, close to 30,000 people in Los Angeles face evictions. The money from the city would go not only to legal aid, but also to education and prevention, outreach and emergency payments to help keep struggling renters in their homes. The price tag of $10 million would fund the first year of a multi-year timeline to phase it in.

“One LA has worked alongside Mayor Garcetti on the passing of proposition HHH and the linkage fee,” continued Fr. Matz. “Now the LA Right to Counsel Coalition is presenting this strategy to address one of the biggest root problems of homelessness– evictions. We know that Mayor Garcetti is working diligently so we ask him for his support for the “Right to Counsel” and to fully fund it.”

Story in the LA Times

Our On-going Concerns About Immigration

By Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director

On January 9th our Provincial Fr. Joseph Nassal and the Leadership Team published a letter expressing their concern about President Donald Trump’s address from the Oval Office stoking fear concerning immigrants entering our country from our southern border in order to get support for building the wall. These men, women and children are coming not to threaten our safety or way of life, but rather, to escape “violence, poverty, and abuses of their human rights.”  As a people who hear the Cry of the Blood, let us continue to inform ourselves about the real issues of immigration.  I have attached some immigration policy websites and a list of myths and facts on immigration so that we can continue to study and learn about this issue.

Immigration Myths and Facts 

Myth #1:  Our country is being overrun by undocumented immigrants.
Fact: The number of undocumented immigrants in our country peaked in 2007 and has been decreasing steadily since then.

Myth #2:  Creating a pathway to citizenship will take jobs from US citizens.
Fact: Increasing rights and protections for our most vulnerable workers will help lift standards and wages for our entire workforce.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that comprehensive immigration reform would substantially strengthen our economy, increase employment levels and result in a raise for all working people in our country.

Myth 3:  Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes and they drain our social services.
Fact: All undocumented immigrants pay sales taxes that stimulate our state and local budgets, and many pay federal taxes as well.  However, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for most public welfare benefits, so they contribute more to our public budgets than they receive, creating a positive net fiscal impact.

Myth 4:  Deporting all 11 or 12 million undocumented immigrants will strengthen our economy.
Fact: Removing millions of long-term members of our communities from the United States would cost an estimated $600 billion and would substantially harm our productivity, particularly in industries such as agriculture, construction, and hospitality.

Myth 5:  We have no idea who is coming into our country as a refuge.
Fact: The screening done for our refugee resettlement is extremely rigorous.  On average, candidates wait for nearly two-years for approval of their applications to enter through our humanitarian programs.  It would be a clear violation of US and International law to deny people safe harbor based on the religion they practice or their country of origin.

Myth 6:  Immigrants make our communities less safe.
Fact: Studies consistently show that immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than our general population.  Attempts to label entire groups of immigrants as “criminals” or “terrorists” are patently false and run counter to our core values as a nation.

Myth 7:  Mexico will pay for the wall on our southern border.
Fact: The Mexican government has made it clear that they will never fund the wall.  The project would cost our taxpayers an estimated $25 billion that could otherwise be used to fund schools, roads, bridges and other projects critical to creating good jobs and moving our country forward.

Immigration Policy Websites

The U.S. policies on immigration are fast changing and it is difficult to provide an up-to-date overview ion the latest policies.  Here are some websites that are helpful to do so:

Center for American Progress (you can sign up for updates):
http://americanprogress.org/immigration/reports/2017/04/20/430736/facts-immigration-today-2017-edition/

Pew Research Center offers a visual report on the history of U.S. policies:
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/09/30/how-u-s-immigration-laws-and-rules-have-changed-through-history/

USCIS has a history of and document of the U.S. laws you can download:
https://www.uscis.gov/history-and-genealogy/our-history/agency-history/early-american-immigration-policies

The U.S.Department of State maintains a page on U.S. Visas with the latest information regarding regulations and policies to enter the U.S. territory:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html

Wikipedia has an article on President Trump’s immigration policy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_policy_of_Donald_Trump