The offerings are divided into three parts, two of which are self-explanatory. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance monies go to victims at home and abroad of earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, and the like. The Hunger Fund works with Disaster Assistance, as well as the third organization, Self-Development of People. SDOP’s vision is to help people help themselves, not as individuals, but as groups of people.
Pittsburgh Presbytery SDOP committee has 10 members—not all Presbyterians—and mostly minorities. The committee holds workshops to inform people of what we are about and how they might be eligible for a grant.
We are blessed to have such an organization in our presbytery. Recent proposals granted included Weee, or Women Empowered to Entrepreneurial Excellence, a group of about 12 women who are self-employed or have formed small companies and work together to become better informed as to growing their businesses. These include residential or industrial cleaning, beauty salon, personal care, child care, bakers, dressmakers, writers, and others. Weee holds information classes on taxes, insurance, employment assistance, how to start a business, and others. The group has an office in McKees Rocks and is doing well helping low-income women help their families. The second proposal was from a group of families who obtained a plot of land in Braddock Hills, cleaned up all the brush, and made it an urban garden. Their first year was successful except that wild animals feasted on much of their hard work. Last year they fenced in the plot, planted fruit trees and shrubs, as well as flowers and herbs. When asked how he contributed to the garden, one of the boys said “when he was bored, he went up to the garden and weeded.” The kids are involved. The group also bought a greenhouse which the fathers put together and hoped to grow seedlings to sell this spring. I haven’t heard how that worked out.
The National SDOP provides international grants in Chili, Dominican Republic, to the Roma people in eastern Europe, in Africa, and in parts of the United States where there is no Presbytery or Synod SDOP. Our own Synod of the Trinity has an SDOP as well.