Our Commitment to Social Justice
Agape invited Radical Disciples – women and men who helped create extraordinary programs to help others – to speak to our community during the seasons of Advent and Lent. They shared their passions with us, and we are sharing our resources with them.
Salt and Light Coalition
Dr. Izabel Olsen, the founder and CEO, started this unique program in 2017 to help survivors of sex trafficking recover from their traumas, finish their educations and obtain employment. Dr. Olsen, who grew up as the daughter of a political prisoner in Brazil, began teaching yoga to female inmates in the Cook County jail system while she was pursuing a doctorate at Northwestern. She met so many women who had been forced into trafficking as young girls that she decided to devote her career to helping them.
Salt & Light now works with cohorts of young women called ‘Thrivers,’ helping them move on from past abuses into confident new lives. You can meet them, and Dr. Olsen and her staff, on the Coalition’s website: saltandlightcoalition.com
Dr. Izabel Olsen
The Fred Outa Foundation
Susan Vaickowski and Fred Outa
In 2004, before Susan Vaickauski became a womanpriest, she and a daughter traveled to Kenya to do volunteer work in that African country’s largest slum. There, they met Fred Outa, who had been a poor local orphan when an American couple befriended him and brought him to the U.S. for an education. Fred returned to Kenya, where he started a school and Susan founded the Fred Outa Foundation in 2005 to assist him.
Today, that school serves 450 elementary-aged children. Outa is serving in the Kenyan senate, and the Fred Outa Foundation has evolved into helping outstanding Kenyan girls continue their educations through high school and college. You can learn about sponsoring a girl or make other donations through their website: fredouta.org
Kathy McGourty was a master’s student at the Catholic Theological Union in 2009 when she discovered KDB, a program that connects coffee growers in Haiti with U.S. supporters. She introduced KDB to her local church, then traveled to Haiti herself to meet the coffee growers and their families. In response to the devastation wrought by recent natural disasters, Kathy and other Just Haiti board members launched a university-level scholarship program for children of members of the coffee growers’ association. Early recipients are using their new skills to help rebuild their country. You can support them by ordering fair trade Haitian coffee or by making a donation at https://www.justhaiti.org/
Kathy McGourty & Haitian Coffee Grower
Journeys | the road home
Beth Nabors, executive director of Journeys, an organization that serves the homeless of the 37 towns in north and northwest Cook County, is overseeing the construction of a building to provide services for all the area’s homeless. When completed, the two-story building in Palatine will contain a healthcare center, offices for other support services and apartments for temporary shelter and, in some cases, permanent homes.
Although the pandemic limited Journeys’ options, the organization continued to serve our neediest residents throughout the long COVID months. For more information or to make a donation, check out their website at journeystheroad home.org
The Greenlining Campaign
The goal of Richard Townsell, the executive director of the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation, is to reduce the inequity in home ownership for Black people. For centuries, Redlining – designating areas of Chicago where Black families are denied mortgages – has prevented them from building the equity in their homes that white homeowners take for granted. To counter this, Townsell’s LCDC, United Power for Action and Justice and a coalition of religious organizations launched a campaign they called Greenlining: a program to build affordable single-family homes within the city that working class Black families can purchase.
Chicago agreed to release 1000 city lots in Lawndale to the project, and the first two houses are finished; permits for two more have been granted. The Lawndale Christian Development Corporation’s website tells more at https://lcdc.net
Viator House of Hospitality
Agape’s frequent presider, Father Corey Brost, has been the executive director of Viator House of Hospitality since its founding in 2017. Viator House’s unique mission is to offer a safe and supportive environment for young men who have come to the United States seeking asylum from violence in their own countries.
Once they reach age 18, young asylum-seekers are placed in adult detention facilities where they can spend months, or even years, waiting for an official ruling on their fates. Viator House, in Arlington Heights, provides an enriching alternative by offering a place to live, opportunities to learn about American culture, a path to finishing their educations and a way to cultivate jobs skills. So far, Viator House has served over 70 asylum-seekers from 19 countries and four faith backgrounds. The two newest arrivals came from Afghanistan. To learn how to volunteer with, or donate to, Viator House, see viatorhouseofhospitality.com
Intentional Eucharistic Community