Catholic Charities 

 Catholic Charities 

 Points of Hope -- The 2008 Brake the Cyle of Poverty Bike Ride

Catholic Campaign for Human Development

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Braking the Cycle of Poverty Bike Ride 2008 -- A Reflection

When one thinks of poverty, many images may be conjured in one’s mind - the decrepit homes in the inner city, the families standing in line to receive food from a church. We are reminded of those working two to three jobs who go home to a dwelling that they cannot call their own, yet must do their best to make it home for their children crying with hunger. We see the desolation of the elderly as they make decisions no one should be forced to make: food, heat, or medicine? We are reminded of our neighbors, of our families … or of a world away.

Sadly, poverty is not a world away – it is all around us. From Maine to Oregon, from Alaska to Hawaii, 37 million American citizens live below the poverty line. As a matter of fact, more people live in poverty than live in the state of California. In Louisiana, poverty is truly a way of life for many citizens. Our state, which ranks second in the population living in poverty, however, is making strides against the vicious cycle of poverty. This year’s Brake the Cycle of Poverty bike ride reminded us of just this fact.

Visiting three signs of hope in Thibodaux was certainly an eye-opening experience as each place added to the hope that is alive and well in our community. Constance Williams-Johnson of Circle of H.O.P.E., a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the underprivileged children and their families in the Thibodaux area, reminded us of the value of persistence while God is cultivating a seed in our lives. At a young age, Johnson felt called to minister to her community by way of providing an outlet for them to essentially “get off the streets.” She had dreamed of having a building that would be this outlet – and some twenty years after the original idea, she was able to open Circle of H.O.P.E. on President Street, a true sign of hope.

BISCO (Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing) shared with the riders some of their work with the Thibodaux Recreation Department. Seeing nearly twenty near-drownings in one summer, BISCO researched this trend and concluded that many families in the community could not afford swimming lessons for their children. Approaching the City of Thibodaux, BISCO was able to secure thirty free opportunities for swimming lessons – provided those students read a set amount of books in return for their lessons. The following summer, there were only two near drownings, a true sign of hope.

The Bayou Region Supports and Services Center, formerly the Peltier-Lawless Developmental Center, provides support and care to individuals having disabilities that include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, and other developmental disabilities. Janelle Folse, the center’s administrator, spoke of the programs in place and the work performed at the center that helps to restore their clients’ dignity. Folse reminded the riders that despite what one must overcome, all are entitled to certain rights and responsibilities that truly are inalienable and God given. The center helps its clients achieve what society sometimes strips from them, a true sign of hope.

As far as the bike ride being a sign of hope, the locations’ work speaks for themselves. Each organization, in its own way, provides care and services to those who need not a handout but a hand up. From the students who took part along with members of the community to the police escorts, eyes were being opened as to what is available in Thibodaux. Though all around us we see what appears to be signs of failure and desolation, statistics that make us cringe, and signs of recession which bring to mind the vicious cycle of poverty, we were all reminded of the hope and help that is always very near us. “Whatever you do to the least of thee, you do to Me,” our Lord tells us. Signs of hope are alive and well – says the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.

Reflection by Chris DeHart, Catholic Campaign for Human Development intern, St. Thomas Church/NSU Campus

Circle of HOPE is a community resource agency for the Thibodaux area.  Contact Constance Williams-Johnson at 985-449-1201. 
BISCO is a faith-based community organizing group active in the Terrebonne and Lafourche areas.  Interested congregations may contact Sharon Gauthe, Executive Director at 985-446-5364. 
The City of Thibodaux Recreation Department offers many activities in addition to swimming lessons.  Contact Ron Alcorn at 985-446-7235.
Bayou Region Supports and Services provides assistance to adults with developmental disabilities and their families.  Contact Janelle Folse at 985-449-5181. 

Braking the Cycle of Poverty Bike Ride 2008 -- A Reflection

When one thinks of poverty, many images may be conjured in one’s mind - the decrepit homes in the inner city, the families standing in line to receive food from a church. We are reminded of those working two to three jobs who go home to a dwelling that they cannot call their own, yet must do their best to make it home for their children crying with hunger. We see the desolation of the elderly as they make decisions no one should be forced to make: food, heat, or medicine? We are reminded of our neighbors, of our families … or of a world away.

Sadly, poverty is not a world away – it is all around us. From Maine to Oregon, from Alaska to Hawaii, 37 million American citizens live below the poverty line. As a matter of fact, more people live in poverty than live in the state of California. In Louisiana, poverty is truly a way of life for many citizens. Our state, which ranks second in the population living in poverty, however, is making strides against the vicious cycle of poverty. This year’s Brake the Cycle of Poverty bike ride reminded us of just this fact.

Visiting three signs of hope in Thibodaux was certainly an eye-opening experience as each place added to the hope that is alive and well in our community. Constance Williams-Johnson of Circle of H.O.P.E., a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the underprivileged children and their families in the Thibodaux area, reminded us of the value of persistence while God is cultivating a seed in our lives. At a young age, Johnson felt called to minister to her community by way of providing an outlet for them to essentially “get off the streets.” She had dreamed of having a building that would be this outlet – and some twenty years after the original idea, she was able to open Circle of H.O.P.E. on President Street, a true sign of hope.

BISCO (Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing) shared with the riders some of their work with the Thibodaux Recreation Department. Seeing nearly twenty near-drownings in one summer, BISCO researched this trend and concluded that many families in the community could not afford swimming lessons for their children. Approaching the City of Thibodaux, BISCO was able to secure thirty free opportunities for swimming lessons – provided those students read a set amount of books in return for their lessons. The following summer, there were only two near drownings, a true sign of hope.

The Bayou Region Supports and Services Center, formerly the Peltier-Lawless Developmental Center, provides support and care to individuals having disabilities that include mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, and other developmental disabilities. Janelle Folse, the center’s administrator, spoke of the programs in place and the work performed at the center that helps to restore their clients’ dignity. Folse reminded the riders that despite what one must overcome, all are entitled to certain rights and responsibilities that truly are inalienable and God given. The center helps its clients achieve what society sometimes strips from them, a true sign of hope.

As far as the bike ride being a sign of hope, the locations’ work speaks for themselves. Each organization, in its own way, provides care and services to those who need not a handout but a hand up. From the students who took part along with members of the community to the police escorts, eyes were being opened as to what is available in Thibodaux. Though all around us we see what appears to be signs of failure and desolation, statistics that make us cringe, and signs of recession which bring to mind the vicious cycle of poverty, we were all reminded of the hope and help that is always very near us. “Whatever you do to the least of thee, you do to Me,” our Lord tells us. Signs of hope are alive and well – says the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux.

Reflection by Chris DeHart, Catholic Campaign for Human Development intern, St. Thomas Church/NSU Campus

Circle of HOPE is a community resource agency for the Thibodaux area.  Contact Constance Williams-Johnson at 985-449-1201. 
BISCO is a faith-based community organizing group active in the Terrebonne and Lafourche areas.  Interested congregations may contact Sharon Gauthe, Executive Director at 985-446-5364. 
The City of Thibodaux Recreation Department offers many activities in addition to swimming lessons.  Contact Ron Alcorn at 985-446-7235.
Bayou Region Supports and Services provides assistance to adults with developmental disabilities and their families.  Contact Janelle Folse at 985-449-5181.