Lawrence, KS, March 27, 2017 – The Lawrence Coalition for Peace and Justice has announced winners for the 2017 Tom and Anne Moore Peace and Justice Award. The purpose of the award program is to promote peace and justice efforts in the local community and to recognize individuals or organizations who exemplify the goals of peace and justice through their practical and constructive work locally, nationally, or internationally.
Sara Taliaferro received four separate nominations for the award. This is a record for number of nominations, and she is certainly deserving.
Sara was a key person in helping the Lawrence Community Shelter find a permanent home. As a facilitator of community meetings, there is simply no equal in bringing people to the table, in helping people listen to each other, and in finding common ground.
Sara has also been tireless in her work on finding and securing affordable housing for all people here in Lawrence. Meetings too many to count found Sara there championing the cause of affordable housing in the increasingly expensive local housing market.
At Plymouth Church, she has been a leader in the green team, helping the congregation lessen its carbon footprint on our planet. She has challenged all of our consciences to do more with less, to reuse, and to live more simply.
Sara is never one to shy away from hard meetings or difficult conversations. She is the role model for a community activist: determined and unrelenting in her resolve and yet at the same time, always one to be willing to engage others with whom she may disagree.
To sum it up, here is a quote from her pastor, Rev. Peter A. Luckey, Plymouth Church, “Sara has truly committed herself to the work of justice and the well being of our entire community. There is no end to her selfless acts of love on behalf of so many endeavors in our community”.
Catholic Charities is the organizational winner of the Tom and Anne Moore Peace and Justice Award. The modern day story of Catholic Charities in Lawrence is one of “coming to the rescue”. In recent years, the Lawrence office has grown from a tiny, one story building on 13th Street to a large, three-story building with multiple rooms on the prominent corner of Kentucky and 13th Streets. Catholic Charities with its experienced staff and leadership has become the premier, frontline emergency assistance agency in the area and the main convener of collaboration efforts with other agencies. It is leading the way in our community’s effort to provide help where it is needed to people experiencing a crisis. (https://catholiccharitiesks.org/where-we-work/lawrence/)
After years of assisting clients on a limited scale, Catholic Charities took a break, evaluated the local needs and the organization’s potential, and came back in 2008 as a revitalized agency with multiple intentions. In its first year after reorganization, Catholic Charities served 786 people through emergency assistance. Now, as of two years ago, they are serving 4,500 clients.
Nickie Daneke has led the organization’s development as it has moved to serving a broad sector of the Lawrence and Douglas County poor. In addition to Nickie as the Director, other full time staff are two case managers (Nameste, Jacob) and two AmeriCorps MSW (Michael, Melissa). The part time staff is one SER employee (Holly) and one BSW student (Megan). In addition, there are nine volunteers taking turns on the reception desk; delivering USDA commodities to senior citizens in Eudora, Baldwin, Prairie Ridge, and other sites; and staffing their rummage house which gives $3,000 a year in clothing to clients.
The Catholic Charities programs cover: Basic Needs (food pantry, senior commodities, clothing, and emergency assistance for rent, utilities, transportation, and medical). Emergency Shelter Grant (houses 250-300 people a year through Rapid ReHousing, Street Outreach, and Homeless Prevention). Resource Bus (serving six counties with emergency assistance, case management, clothing, food, and a domestic violence specialist). Kansas Loan Pool Program (helping clients with exorbitant Pay Day Loans). Nutrition Classes (trying new foods, showing incentives for healthy eating and food preparation. Wellness (Tai Chi–Chai Tea session in collaboration with Ecumenical Campus Ministries). Senior Citizens (new efforts to engage senior citizens with dignity and respect).
Case management at Catholic Charities is an ongoing program. Clients have long term relationships as cases often require. Two client cases show the successful approach of the Catholic Charities staff.
~A woman who had been on cocaine for 16 years, was full of anxiety, never had had a house and said she wasn’t ready for a house, became motivated when she realized it was possible. She entered rehab, has now been clean from crack for two years, has a job paying $18 an hour, and has a house.
~Another woman lived in her car for more than 12 years. After case management with Catholic Charities staff, she has now been living in a house for two and a-half years.
Both of these women stay in touch with the staff. The clients are grateful and the staff is rewarded with its accomplishments.
To promote collaboration and exchange of information between area agencies, Nickie has initiated the Emergency Assistance Forum. This networking effort is a gathering of all local interested social service agencies working with the homeless, the poor, the elderly, and the mentally ill. Nickie convenes the group quarterly where each agency reports on its activities and announces its events and needs. There are no fees or requirements to be part of the Forum. The sense of community and mutual support that it helps to build among individuals working with distressed populations is deeply appreciated. Catholic Charities is to be commended for taking the leadership in this simple but clearly necessary event which has been helpful to a core of Lawrence and Douglas County agencies.
The awards will be presented at the May Day Peace Gala at the western shelter house in Centennial Park, 600 Rockledge Road at 7 pm on Monday, May First. There will also be a new Peace Pole planted; it will be Lawrence's fourteenth. There will be music and fun, and, of course, cake. Free and open to the public.