October 25, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – The Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) is sending out a new loan to Fonkoze USA for its efforts in securing financial and technical support to its Haitian partner, Fonkoze. The loan was recommended by the PAB and approved by the Congregation’s General Council.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters have been involved with Fonkoze since 1997, when it first received a loan from the Congregation. Sister Maureen Fenlon, OP, served on the founding board of Fonkoze.
Fonkoze is a family of organizations that work together to empower Haitians – especially women – to move their families out of poverty. The organization’s 45 branches cover every area of Haiti and are the only access to financial services for many Haitians. It envisions a Haiti where “people, standing together, shoulder to shoulder, have pulled themselves out of poverty.”
“As a Haitian institution, Fonkoze is adept at navigating the complexities of working in a failed state with limited infrastructure, insecurity, economic instability, and climactic crisis,” according to Leigh Carter, founder of Fonkoze USA.
The organization is working to mitigate the damage brought about by Hurricane Matthew on October 4, 2016. The hurricane brought “near total devastation” to some areas, and coastal areas continue to suffer from flooding, Leigh Carter reported. Communications channels and the efforts of rescue teams were hampered by the effects of the hurricane.
Before Matthew struck, staff members of the Fonkoze branches had taken precautions by securing files and equipment. The day after the hurricane struck, 27 branches were operating online to assist the people who desperately needed financial help in the wake of Matthew.
Staff members of Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM), a Fonkoze program that serves the ultra poor, immediately began to visit the households of their clients. CLM’s budget includes an emergency fund to support its clients in the current crisis. The nurses in Fonkoze’s Community Health Store reached out to the local community health entrepreneurs. In addition, they will hold a campaign between October 17 and October 31 to train the entrepreneurs on hygiene and cholera prevention, making antibacterial soaps and chlorine solution tablets more readily available.
Fonkoze has learned from its experience in several disasters that have struck Haiti: Hurricane Jeanne in 2004; Hurricanes Faye, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike in 2008; and a 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people. In those situations, Fonkoze took the steps necessary to help their clients recover from disaster: forgiving the outstanding balance of loans, offering special loans to help in their recovery, and offering money transfer services to people who desperately needed the immediate financial help.
Founded more than 40 years ago, the PAB was a response to the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ vision for social change. Firmly rooted in the tradition of Catholic social teachings, the PAB helps the Congregation to advocate for social justice in two ways. Through Community Investments work, the PAB offers low-interest loans to non-profit community organizations that benefit low-income people and underserved communities. The PAB Corporate Responsibility arm monitors the Congregation’s investments and engages in shareholder activities on matters of justice involving corporations in which the Congregation invests.
Feature photo: Hurricane Matthew wreaks devastation in Les Cayes, Haiti. 161014-F-MQ799-0385 by The 621st Contingency Response Wing on Flickr, CC BY 2.0
September 15, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – Current and past members of the Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB), Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, and members of the general public marked the 40th anniversary of the PAB September 10 with a day of education and an evening program and celebration. The event took place at Weber Retreat and Conference Center on the Motherhouse campus.
Highlighting the day was a special celebratory program (see videos below) detailing the history and the 40-year efforts of the PAB to bring about economic justice through work in corporate responsibility, low-interest loan investment in non-profit community organizations around the world. The PAB also works to educate board members and the community about social justice issues of concern to the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
The program included talks by such speakers as Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Congregation; Sister Kathleen Schanz, OP, General Council liaison to the PAB; and Dee Joyner, an Adrian Dominican Associate and Chair of the PAB. A 20-minute video featured comments of people from other organizations who collaborated with the PAB over the years. The celebration concluded with a reception.
Throughout the day, participants heard from a variety of speakers. In the opening session, Sarah Power spoke of the efforts of Con-way, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based freight transportation corporation, to combat human trafficking through its collaboration with Truckers against Trafficking. Sarah told the moving story of one driver for Con-way who, through his vigilant attitude, helped law enforcement to uncover a trafficking ring and bring freedom to 14 women caught in trafficking.
Pat Zerega, of Mercy Investment Services, explained the science behind climate change and discussed the choices that our society can make to lessen its effects. She also addressed ways that religious congregations can work to decrease climate change through such practices as divesting from fossil-fuel companies or engaging in shareholder resolutions.
The afternoon brought speakers from two of the community organizations in which the PAB has invested through low-interest loans. The speakers in both sessions spoke of the positive impact of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ investment in their organizations had on their work and the community they serve.
Leading off was Charles Hammerman, president and CEO of Disability Opportunity Fund (DOF). He gave the Scriptural foundation for caring for people with disabilities and explained the work of DOF. The organization is the first community investment organization to focus on the needs of people with disabilities.
In the closing session of the Day of Education, James Balmer, President of Dawn Farm, and Charles Coleman, coordinator of Dawn Farm’s Chapin Street housing project, spoke of their work to offer free recovery and transitional housing programs for people suffering from addictions.
Top photo: Associate Dee Joyner (left), Chair of the Portfolio Advisory Board, and Lura Mack, Executive Director, at the 40th anniversary celebration.
Adrian Dominican Sisters Portfolio Advisory Board
September 10, 2015
Session 1: Human Trafficking
Sarah Power, Con-way
Session 2: Climate Change
Pat Zerega, Mercy Investment Services
Session 3: Supportive Housing
Charles Hammerman, Disability Opportunity Fund
Session 4: Supportive Housing / Programs
James Balmer & Charles Coleman, Dawn Farm
Session 5: Celebrating 40 Years of Socially Responsible Investing