Basic Needs/Direct Service Grants

The Sisters Health Foundation (SHF) has a history of meeting basic needs by awarding direct service grants. These grants are inherently different from the high impact, systemic change grants in our oral health, healthy lifestyles and health equity priority areas. The SHF has intuitively responded to basic needs. We acknowledge the importance of continuing to do so given that in the current economic environment, low-income families and individuals are facing greater challenges than ever before. Catholic social teaching advocates for both charity and justice. The poor need assistance now while we work toward policies and actions that result in systemic change. The values and vision of the SHF as a sponsored ministry of the Congregation of St. Joseph, and the guiding principles of our foundation, support responding to basic needs.
Basic Needs/Direct Service grants are a way to respond to Catholic social teaching that calls us to:

  • Care for the Poor and Vulnerable People
    Catholic social teaching emphasizes that Jesus identified himself intimately with the poor and marginalized people in society and that we must always treat them with respect, dignity, and care.

    • Let the man with two coats give to him who has none. The man who has food should do the same”.
    • “We must continually take time and invest creativity into listening to our people especially the poor. For it is they who out of their frustrations, dreams and struggles, must lead the way for all of us”
  • Human Rights and Responsibilities
    The documents of the church proclaim that all have the right to food, water, shelter and clothing, and that we must be personally responsible for safeguarding these rights.

    • “If one of your kinsmen in any community is in need in the land which the Lord, your God, has given you; you shall not harden your heart nor close your hand to him in his need. … Instead, you shall open your hand to him and freely lend him enough to meet his need. … When you give to him, give freely and not with ill will; for the Lord, your God, will bless you for this in all your works and undertakings. The needy will never be lacking in the land; that is why I command you to open your hand to your poor and needy kinsman in your country.”
    • “Because human life is a gift of God, we have the responsibility to care for ourselves and to respect and enhance the well-being of all, from conception to natural death. Good stewardship builds happy, healthy families and individuals; promotes generous responses to communal needs; and allows all to share equitably in the resources available to us.”
  • The Unity of all People “We are all one”:
    The church teaches a basic solidarity among all people and a responsibility to work together for the benefit of all. The call of the Gospel is to live in harmony and peace among all people, respecting other nations, cultures and even religions.

    • “I assure, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it to me.”

Basic Needs/Direct Service grants are a way to continue to reach out to the needy as directed by the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph who encouraged our first sisters to reach out to the neglected of society by “performing all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy of which woman is capable and which most benefits the dear neighbor.” The sisters were advised to divide their cities or towns into sections, go into those areas, discover their needs and work out ways to respond to them.
Grants to meet basic needs particularly address the guiding principles of the Sisters Health Foundation that are rooted in the Gospel call to love both God and neighbor and include:

  • Respect the dignity of all persons.
  • Listen carefully to people in local communities, with special concern for the poor and underserved.
  • Support strategies that reflect Christian ethical principles and are faithful to Catholic social teaching.

These reasons support the Sisters Health Foundation continuing to make grants that meet basic needs. They complement the efforts of programs that strengthen families, especially those that address root causes of poverty and focus on systemic change.
Therefore, we recommend that we acknowledge the value of this component of our grantmaking in a more conscious, public and strategic manner by naming, promoting and providing guidelines for Basic Needs/Direct Service Grants.