Program Category: Community / Civic Outreach

Director: Lucino Aleman

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Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is an ecumenical Christian global, nonprofit housing organization operated on Christian principles that seeks to put God's love into action by building homes, communities and hope.  As a nonprofit Christian housing ministry, Habitat for Humanity seeks to eliminate substandard housing and end homelessness around the globe.  They were founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, decent place to live in dignity and safety. Through a combination of fundraising and volunteering to help build new houses for a deserving family who would otherwise not be able to afford a home on their own, local Councils can make a significant difference within their community.  Michael Jones will be heading up the Habitat for Humanity Program for the State of California. Michael looks forward to working with you to help your council promote the Knights of Columbus partnership with Habitat for Humanity program. The Habitat for Humanity Council Form 10092 is located on the Supreme Website under Publications & Resources, Council Forms.

Program Chairman

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Columbian Foundation – Intellectual Disabilities Drive

It is estimated that between 7 and 8 million Americans of all ages, or three percent of the general population, experience intellectual disabilities. Nearly 30 million, or one in ten families in the United States, are directly affected by a person with intellectual disabilities at some point in their lifetime.

The Columbian Foundation Supporting People with Intellectual Disabilities, Inc. (the Foundation) has as its mission to promote and provide financial support to IRS 50 l (c)(3) organizations providing care and activities for people with intellectual disabilities. This often overlooked and marginalized portion of society often has difficulty in communicating and advocating needs. People with intellectual disabilities learn and process information more slowly, and have difficulty with abstract concepts such as money, time and the subtleties of interpersonal interactions. They may also suffer from autism or sensory impairments or be physically disabled.

It is important the care, safety and quality of life for these individuals be assured and tailored to their individual needs. It is also important opportunities be provided to interact with the general public, and methods be devised to raise and maintain their self- esteem. To the extent possible, they should be empowered to be independent and involved in their community. The foundation does this with the help of participating Knights of Columbus Councils through cash grants to schools, residential care facilities, work training centers, summer camps and Special Olympics. In the 25 years the Foundation has been in existence, over $16,400,000 has been raised for organizations serving those with intellectual disabilities. Social Justice - if we don't do it, Who Will?

The Foundation Board is composed of 19 members, holding formal meetings at least twice within a fiscal year. In addition, the Foundation submits semi- annual reports to the Knights of Columbus California State Council, and over 600 Knights of Columbus councils in the State of California. These reports are the vehicle through which information is provided to state, regional and local leadership regarding participation and issues pertaining to those with intellectual disabilities.

Program Chairman

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Retirement Home

Program Chairman

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Veterans Affairs

When our country needed them our veterans answered the call to serve. Now Knights are being called to serve our veterans through a new program: "Serving Those Who Served."

Our goal is to have an active corps of Knights serving as volunteers at every Veterans Administration medical facility in California.

Volunteers are needed at veteran's medical facilities on a regular basis. Through the "Serving Those Who Served" program councils and assemblies are asked to form a corps of volunteers to meet the needs of our veterans on an ongoing basis.

Just some volunteer opportunities for Knights include:

Supporting the Catholic chaplains in their ministry of spiritual support to our Catholic patients

Providing reception and information services – working in reception areas to provide information to visitors

Providing transportation for veterans.

Helping make patients comfortable by distributing toiletries, sweaters and other items that help make veterans more comfortable

Arts and crafts – providing materials and programs that help veterans use artistic and creative skills

  • Patient visiting
  • Offering holiday celebrations – organizing parties for veterans 
  • Taking patients to ball games or performances when possible 
  • Hosting picnics, parties or recreation outings

Upon discharge from the VA facility some veterans find they have lost touch with friends and family. They need human companionship and a friendly, dependable K of C volunteer might be "just what the doctor ordered."

Discharged veterans need compassionate, caring and committed individuals to:

  • Help them access community events & services
  • Share their time by visiting them, listening to them and talking with them
  • Remember them on birthdays, holidays and other special occasions.

Sometimes councils and assemblies are not located close enough to a veteran's medical facility to make regular efforts practical. However, they may still participate in and make a valuable contribution to the "Serving Those Who Served" program.

The possibilities are limited only by the imagination and the needs of the veterans.  For instance:

Organize a drive to collect clothing, coats, gloves, pajamas, robes, toiletries, etc. for veterans

Organize program to provide rosaries, Bibles, Catholic religious literature, and Chapel items like Mass bells, Easter candle holders, altar lines

Volunteer as Eucharistic Ministers to take Communion to bed patients

Collecting or developing a plan to buy television sets, VCRs, DVD players or stereo equipment to donate for use in medical facility common areas

Collect video and audio tapes, books, DVD and CDs for the facility

Develop a plan to donate personal computers and computer programs, printers (as well paper and ink) for use by veterans

Travel to a VA facility to put on a special program or entertainment for patients

Plan and conduct a special outing, if possible, for veterans such as a picnic, a trip to the ball park or a special community event

Plan a special holiday event and travel to the facility to conduct it for the veterans or adopt veterans at a distant facility and remember them regularly with cards and letters.

California has Eight Major Veterans Hospitals in two regions (21 Northern & 22 Southern California). Some of these Hospitals have as many at 35 sub-clinics, ranging from outpatient clinics to small in house facilities.  Locate a facility near your council and get involved with them in some way.

Program Chairman

  • Name:Mark Malebranche
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Food For Families

The Knights of Columbus is committed to ending hunger in our local communities by asking local Councils, Assemblies, and Squire Circles to participate in the Order-wide Food for Families Program.  Since 2012, the Knights of Columbus has donated over $2.7 million and 3.8 million pounds of food to local food pantries, community food banks, and soup kitchens.

As we begin the 2014-2015 Columbian year, I would like to thank all the Councils, Assemblies, and Squire Circles for their diligence and laborious efforts in providing tens of thousands of pounds of much needed food via our Food for Families program last year.  The Knights of Columbus continues to assist in lessening the sting of hunger in our communities.  The economy continues to lag, unemployment remains rampant, and the exorbitant cost of living in California refuses to diminish in intensity.  The California mantra for many families is “Heat or Eat” forcing people to make tough decisions on whether to eat or pay the bills.

The Food for Families Program is now in its fifth year of operation in California.  California has donated several million pounds of food since the enactment of the Food for Families Program.  Brother Knights your commitment continues to reduce hunger in many California communities while improving the lives of many citizens in our parishes and neighborhoods.

Unfortunately hunger is on the rise across America.  Statistics for 2014 are alarming:

  • In California alone over six million citizens are food insecure of which one-third are children.
  • 48 million Americans are food insecure across the USA.
  • 20 million American children go to bed hungry in the USA.
  • 3 million Veterans suffer from hunger monthly.

Hunger is no longer a Third World malady.  Although hunger is present in our communities, it should not be tolerated by our society.  The Knights of Columbus are in a unique position to combat hunger in our parishes and our neighborhoods.  As Knights, we have the perfect vehicle through our Councils, Assemblies, Squire Circles, and Parishes to respond to the demand for food in our communities.  Supreme views this as such a critical program that they will continue to reimburse those Councils in 2014-2015 who continue to donate food and/or monies to food pantries, food banks, and soup kitchens.

Action Steps

  • Contact your local parish, food pantry, community food bank, or soup kitchen to ensure they will be able to receive food donations and inquire if they have any specific needs.
  • Obtain permission from the appropriate person (pastor, business owner(s), etc.) to set up the food drive at the church or store, and to display posters.
  • Ask the pastor for permission to make an announcement before or after Mass about the Food Drive.
  • Be sure to include a written announcement in the parish bulletin and have flyers available for distribution.

Supreme Rebates

To encourage local Councils, Assemblies, and Squire Circles to participate in this worthwhile program, the Supreme Council offers financial rebates to Councils, Assemblies, and/or Squires Circles that participate in the program.  For Councils or Assemblies, the Supreme Council will refund $100 for every $500 donated or for every 1,000 pounds of food that a Council or Assembly contributes to a parish food pantry, community food bank, or soup kitchen (up to a maximum of $500 per Council or Assembly per fraternal year).  Circles will receive a refund from the Supreme Council of $20 for every $100 donated, or every 100 pounds of food that is contributed (up to a maximum refund of $100 per circle per fraternal year).  Reported contributions of food and/or monetary donations should be cumulative for the fraternal year.  There is no need to send in a refund request every time a contribution is made; however, to be eligible for the rebate, the cumulative total of contributions of food and money needs to at a minimum of $500 or 1,000 pounds of food for Councils or Assemblies, and a minimum of $100 or 100 pounds of food for Circles.  Food for Families donations must be validated via a receipt signed by the receiving organization.

In addition, the Supreme Council recognizes that participating in this program can be time consuming for the local Council.  Should a Council choose to participate in this program, this will fulfill all four of the Family Activity requirements for the Columbian Award.  In order for a Council to qualify as fulfilling all four requirements, the Council must collect and donate a minimum of 1,000 pounds of food and Council members must contribute a minimum of 100 man-hours in the program.

Program Chairman

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Wheelchair Program

The American Wheelchair Mission is a non-profit organization with a goal to deliver brand new free wheelchairs and mobility aids to physically disabled children, teens, and adults throughout the world who are without mobility or the means to acquire a wheelchair.  With a strong focus on the needs of the Americas, the American Wheelchair Mission will continue to change the lives of entire families with the gifts of hope, dignity, freedom, and independence.  This noteworthy program is led by Jack Cleary (email: WHEELCHAIR MISSION PARISH DRIVES Change Lives and Increase Membership Since 2007, Knights across the U.S. have been having “Wheelchair Sunday” parish drives to raise funds for the delivery of wheelchairs.  Beginning with Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Pasadena, California where Fr. Gerard O’Brien coined the phrase “Wheelchair Sunday,” this program has spread to several states and is catching on quickly. The first 5 parish drives in Southern California raised enough money to sponsor the delivery of 1,000 brand new wheelchairs and added more than 150 new Knights to the local membership. With a presentation and video about the mission during the homily and then a second collection, parishioners have become involved and thanked the pastors for bringing this wonderful ministry to them. Now we really know what they do.”  Young men commented that they had never considered the Knights because they really did not know enough about them, but in every parish young gentlemen have joined councils as a result of these drives. One of the most common and wonderful reactions we receive from the recipients of the wheelchairs and their families is that we have just answered their prayers.  Tears of joy flow with a heartfelt embrace or clasp of hands, and we know we are doing God’s work on earth. Children with physical disabilities can go to school for the first time, adults can go to work and provide for their families, and the elderly can get out of a bed they may have been in for years and rejoin society. To learn more about how you can hold a “Wheelchair Sunday” parish drive at your church, please contact Brother Dan Moberg at or (208) 457-0745.   Please view the official Wheelchair Sunday booklet, or to download a copy for printing and sharing with your local Knights council.

Program Chairman

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Special Olympics

Over the past 45 years, the Knights of Columbus has raised and donated more than $382 million to programs for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Among the larger gifts of time and money the Order makes annually is to Special Olympics. The Knights’ commitment to Special Olympics and to hundreds of grassroots programs for people with intellectual and physical disabilities is an expression of its belief in the intrinsic worth of every human being. The Knights of Columbus believe that the Special Olympics are nearly unparalleled in their ability to show the worth and dignity of every single human being. This program doesn't just build strength and character in the athletes and participants; it only takes a few moments with the competitors to be inspired by the force of their determination, and the true sense of God's love. California Special Olympics needs our continued support. We encourage Councils around the state to organize fundraisers, events, and donation drives that will continue to benefit this magnificent organization. The Special Olympics are too wonderful to overlook, and California Knights are committed to bringing the games throughout the state.

Program Chairman

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Blood Drive

Hospitals and health care facilities are always in need of blood for transfusions for their patients.  The majority of councils, some already do, can participate by sponsoring a blood drive several times a year.  To get started contact your local Red Cross or Blood Source organization about sponsoring a council or community blood drive.

Select a Blood Donor chairman to work with the local Red Cross or Blood Source organization in setting up and scheduling blood drives in your local parishes.  Publish the dates and locations of the blood drives in your parish bulletin and council newsletter.

Program Chairman

  • Name:Lucino Aleman
  • Phone 1:(619) 470-2037
  • Phone 2:(619) 207-1848