Working feverishly inside a fenced construction site at Long Beach on Jan. 15, a group of volunteers from St. James Church was determined to fend off the surprise arrival of Saturday morning showers with shovels, pipe wrenches, and paintbrushes.
Due to the pandemic, it had been nearly two years since volunteers from the Redondo Beach parish could join the Catholic Coalition team at the ongoing building site with the Habitat for Humanity’s Greater Los Angeles chapter. They’ve been as anxious to finish up the 10 two-story Craftsman-style homes by the spring as the families have been after several years of applying, qualifying, and often having to re-apply because of delays. Just two blocks away, an empty lot awaits another 36 houses to go up.
The pandemic amplified the perils of job loss, mortgage struggles, and chronic homelessness in the region. Those focused on resolving Southern California’s continuing housing crisis cite the availability of affordable homes as a critical component to turn the tide.
For the last eight years, the Catholic Coalition has been hammering that home as well.
Catholics from parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles have spearheaded local volunteer opportunities with Habitat for Humanity since the nonprofit started in 1976 and the Greater LA Chapter launched in 1990. Volunteers from St. Monica Church in Santa Monica went to New Orleans in 2007 to help with Hurricane Katrina recovery.
The idea of combining financial, labor, and strategic resources in 2014 led more than two dozen churches, schools, and service organizations teaming up in the Our Lady of the Angels, San Fernando and San Pedro Pastoral Regions.
Retired St. James pastor Father Jim Kavanagh eventually broached the subject to Archbishop José Gomez, who endorsed the idea, having worked with Habitat for Humanity during his time in San Antonio.
Christine Gerety, the associate director of outreach and pastoral care at St. Monica, and co-chair of the Catholic Coalition, said they could measure success simply by the 36 houses already built, but “we’re in constant discussion in our Zoom meetings — we know we can be more successful. The only tragedy is we aren’t able to do more with the great need.”
Habitat for Humanity estimated that some 60% to 70% of the families approved for Habitat homes in Southern California are Catholic. The coalition encourages Catholic parishes in underserved areas to support a parish family applying for a Habitat home, explained co-chair Carol Sanborn.
“Think about how some Catholic parishes have schools closing and the community is absorbed by commercial business,” said Sanborn. “If those parishes were guided to having families own their homes and invest in the community, it’s win-win for everyone.”
Volunteers from American Martyrs Church in Manhattan Beach and St. Cornelius Church in Long Beach have been back to the site in recent months, while others from the Catholic Coalition are lining up again.
The two sites located in the Washington District neighborhood of Long Beach under construction need $1.5 million more in funding. The Catholic Coalition is in the process of raising more than a third of that….
The above comes from a Jan. 20 story in Angelus News.
This is a great example of people working together on behalf of others. Thanks for sharing it. And, since low-income families actually buy these homes, at a greatly reduced price, the track record is that the resident home owners really care for their homes (unlike what happens all too often in much public housing). That should not be any surprise. This reflects Catholic teaching on both helping those in need and the value of private property, keeping and using the fruits of one’s labor. Hats off to the Catholic Coalialition and Habitat for Humanity.
Good charitable work but wearing masks outdoors while doing manual labor like that is absurd and unhealthy and unnecessary. Too many people have drunk the Kool-Aid.
It looks like they are wearing respirators on a construction site. Good practice.
Maybe they were told to put them on for the photo. And, I’ll bet the people who get one of these homes couldn’t care less. Not every story has to be about COVID. Who knows, maybe Don Diego de la Vega or kemo sabe were helping out.
The people and their clothes and masks do look very clean.
And they say there is no racism in this country! Kemo Sabe?
i’ve never heard anyone claim there’s no racism in this country (or any other). That’s different than systemic racism (in a nation that has twice elected a Black president).
And, a 1977 Smithsonian Magazine article by Lone Ranger aficionado Martha Kendall—at the time a Ph.D. student in anthropology with a concentration in American Indian languages—found a definition in a specific Native American language. Smithsonian curator and linguist Ives Goddard told her he had traced it to J.P. Harrington’s “The Ethnogeography of the Tewa Indians,” from 1916. That article includes a list of Tewa words used to denote other tribes and cultures; the word sabe is defined as “Apaches” and kema is defined as “friend.” Yet, Native American writer Sherman Alexie, who is of Coeur D’Alene descent, has said that kemosabe means “idiot” in Apache. “They were calling each other ‘idiot’ all those years,” he told an interviewer in 1996. Like a lot of issues, it’s complicated and can’t be adequately explored in Tweets or FaceBook posts. And, the meanings of words do change over time (and mean different things to different generations).
They are also wearing hard hats.
I doubt the masks are for the virus, they are to protect from the dust etc that they seem to be digging up.