Cross project gives homeless people dignity of work and wages

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Catholic Action Center in Lexington is providing work for people who are having an especially hard time supporting themselves and their families in these tough economic times – people who live on the margins of society.

Through the center’s Homeless Voice Cross Cooperative, members of the co-op meet every day to create crosses that are sold, with the profits shared with the members.

“Actually, we started a similar effort six years ago, but there wasn’t a great deal of interest or enthusiasm. The bottom line, now, is that there’s a need for a new economy for these folks,” center co-director Ginny Ramsey told Cross Roads, newspaper of the Lexington Diocese.

Center volunteer Frank Branger created templates for small, medium and large crosses, and volunteer Paula Hardin developed the process for decoration and finishing and taught it to co-op members.

Production begins with a pre-cut cross which is then decorated with fabric, paint, ribbon or beading. Each cross is packaged with a card that describes the work of the co-op and gives contact information.

John Moffett, elected as the co-op’s chief executive, trains new members, organizes production and helps sell them at events.

“We talk about the Bible, our situations and miracles in our lives,” Mr. Moffett said. “We talk about the different cultures we come from and how our beliefs differ.”

An efficient worker can make as many as 50 crosses a day and can realize up to $20 an hour when they are sold. Each member makes a percentage depending upon the number of crosses sold and on his or her own production rate.

At a recent music festival where the crosses were sold, Ramsey met an Army chaplain who is being deployed to Afghanistan. The two devised a plan to increase the number of crosses sold while supporting the troops overseas.

The chaplain has agreed to receive and distribute crosses purchased by people who want to give soldiers concrete evidence of their prayerful support. Each cross is packaged with a card that says the purchaser is praying for the recipient.

Information about purchasing crosses for troops in Iran or Afghanistan is available at www.crossesfortroops.org.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.