By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
This year’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) intern is taking a new approach as she works to fight poverty in the Diocese of Davenport.
In the past, interns selected by the diocesan Social Action Office dedicated themselves exclusively to one CCHD-funded group, generally the Center for Worker Justice in Iowa City, Quad Cities Interfaith in Davenport or the diocesan Social Action Office. Allison “Allie” Lauer, the 2021-22 CCHD intern and a student at St. Ambrose University (SAU) in Davenport, will learn about the work of these and other national and local CCHD grant recipients. She will share her knowledge with the Social Action Office and SAU. She will also work to raise awareness for CCHD and its annual collection, which takes place the weekend of Nov. 20-21.
“This is a different internship” than in the past, said Kent Ferris, diocesan director of Social Action, noting that the internship is funded by the national CCHD collection. Ferris and Nicki Gant, SAU’s coordinator of service and justice, “came up with a plan for how we could work together and how I could be a bridge between St. Ambrose University and the diocese,” Allie said.
Learning about how CCHD funds are used locally will help her educate parishes, as well as students, faculty and staff at SAU, about the importance of CCHD and social justice issues in general.
Allie, a Rockford, Illinois, native and a junior at SAU, is double majoring in social work and psychology and working toward a minor in Spanish. She heard about the CCHD-funded internship during her sophomore year from Campus Minister Tammy Norcross-Reitzler and then-chaplain Father Thom Hennen.
“I’ve always been a helping person and I want to fight injustice. I try to include everyone and make sure they feel fairly treated,” she said. Additionally, she felt it would be a good opportunity to practice Spanish so that she could work with Spanish-speaking people. She liked the idea of being involved in community outreach and using her voice to make community connections.
In August, Allie participated in CCHD training sessions virtually over Zoom. She has spoken with previous CCHD interns, many of whom are still working in the social justice field. “I’m learning, learning, learning! There is so much information and so many possibilities and needs around the area.”
An important part of Allie’s work with SAU involves participation in Ambrosians for Peace and Justice (APJ). Earlier this school year, Allie helped promote an APJ program in which World Relief representatives spoke about refugees.
In her role as a CCHD intern, she has found ways to incorporate her interest in mental health with her passion for social justice. She observes that mental health issues “affect people of all races and genders,” and people in underserved populations may struggle to get adequate care. She recently organized a mental health and suicide prevention event with the help of APJ, and made personal calls to the leaders of 12 campus clubs. The calls were two-fold: to invite their clubs to attend the event, and to start a dialogue. “I wanted to learn more about them, and for them to learn more about CCHD.”
This month, Allie will focus on promoting the CCHD internship, calling parishes and asking how the Social Action Office might be of assistance.
So far, the internship has provided Allie with a stronger sense of what she wants to do after graduation. She hopes to serve underprivileged individuals as a mental health counselor and to work with Spanish-speaking individuals. “I want to advocate for those populations to get the services they need.”