Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

CAJE Nehemiah Action Gets Results

By The Message Staff
Father Jay Davidson, left, pastor of All Saints Parish in Evansville, chats with Mayor Lloyd Winnecke prior to the May 6 CAJE Nehemiah Action at Old National Events Plaza. Photo by Paul Leingang, special to The Message.

The annual Nehemiah Action organized by Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment got results on May 6 at Old National Events Plaza in downtown Evansville. Around 1,000 people attended the 2019 event.

CAJE got a commitment from Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke to add $500,000 to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund in 2020. City Councilmen Justin Elpers and Jonathan Weaver, who also attended the Nehemiah Action, committed to supporting the allocation later this month during the 2020 budget hearing.

The group asked Winnecke to allocate $2 million to the trust fund in 2020, but the mayor declined, committing instead to the half-million-dollar allocation.

Other results

CAJE has been working for years to address a lack of services for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and a mental-health condition. The group noted that 1 in 59 young people are diagnosed with ASD annually, and nearly a third of them have co-occurring mental-health conditions.

Scott Branham, chief administrative office of Deaconess Cross Pointe, agreed to chair a task force focusing on creating and expanding mental-health services for youngsters with dual diagnoses. Faren Levell, President of Southwestern Behavioral Health, and local pediatric psychologist Dr. Jaime Below agreed to participate on the task force. They and Branham will be visiting Gibault Children’s Services in Terre Haute as part of the task force’s initial effort. 

CAJE has also expanded its efforts to create more affordable housing options to Posey County. Father Ed Schnur, pastor of St. Wendel Parish in St Wendel and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Poseyville, discussed “Our Posey County Neighbors in Crisis” with Deacon Mark McDonald of St. Wendel and St. Francis Xavier parishes.

The effort is just beginning, with CAJE creating a Posey County Affordable Housing Research Committee that will begin meeting regularly no later than early next year. Poseyville Town Council Member Bruce Baker has already committed to meet regularly with the committee.

CAJE has scheduled a community celebration for 6:30 p.m. CDT on June 17 at St. Wendel Parish in St. Wendel.