New England Welfare Reform Initiative Housed at Holy Cross

WORCESTER, Mass. – Holy Cross students involved in the New England Welfare Reform Initiative (NEWRI) will present their research and activism in a program entitled "Walking the Talk on Welfare and Poverty: Holy Cross Students in Action" on Tuesday, Dec. 2, from 12-2 p.m., in the Hogan Campus Center.

With funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the 11 dioceses of New England, NEWRI was formed to change the prospects for poor families and children.  NEWRI is housed at Holy Cross and supported by the College.  The project involves public education at the parish level and direct work within the community.  It also includes an advocacy program for public policies that will work to bring decent jobs and a living wage to those who have been receiving funds through Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (formerly AFDC).

As a part of the College's support for NEWRI, during the fall semester courses have been offered in the Center for Interdisciplinary and Special Studies (CISS) and Religious Studies.  Students are working on welfare reform issues, both inside and outside of the classroom.  The program on Dec. 2 will be the culmination of their research and activities during this semester.

The students' presentations will be offered in two panels.

The first, "Direct Service: Addressing the Needs of Poor Families and Children," will be moderated by Professor Mary Hobgood of the Religious Studies Department.  Panelists include: Kristin Hopman '01 on her work with the NEWRI Office; Ryan Hurley '99 and Megan Fox '99 on their work with the Central Mass. Housing Alliance; Carina Nybo '00, Kathy Cosgrove '99 and Lauren Erelli '99 on their work with the Today's Child Program at the Department of Transitional Assistance; and Nicole Crifo '99 on her work with women welfare recipients who are victims of domestic violence.

The second panel, "Social Change: Education and Advocacy on Welfare Reform Issues," will be moderated by Professor Betty Reid Mandell, a visiting faculty member at Holy Cross.  The panelists are: Libby Reichard '99 on a parish-based education project, "Voices for Justice;" Gretel Gerhardt '01 on her work with Neighbor to Neighbor; Kimberly Jackson '00 on her advocacy work with welfare recipients through the Women's Alliance; and Rachel Miller '00 on her work with Working Massachusetts, a labor/welfare coalition which addresses contingent work issues.