The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton welcomed nearly 300 stakeholders, board and staff members, grantees, community partners and friends in early November to celebrate two decades of collaboration, philanthropy and community stewardship at Kent State University at Stark.
To commemorate the past two decades of work, the foundation established a Developing Servant Leaders grant competition, inviting Stark County students and teachers to submit proposals for projects to benefit the community. The winning grantees were announced at the celebration. The winners will be using their grant funding for a wide range of efforts, including projects to furnish children with winter coats, provide hats and scarves for the homeless, start a community garden, and help students strengthen their life skills. In all, the foundation awarded $15,500 for the service projects, and will partner with the Canton Repository to feature some or all of the projects in the newspaper.
Keynote speaker Father Gregory Boyle gave a speech on collaborating to create a community "circle of compassion" that includes everyone, including the "easily despised and the left out."
Fr. Boyle has decades of experience working with the marginalized to create a better world; he heads up Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Each year, more than 10,000 former gang members come through Homeboy Industries' doors. They are welcomed into a community of mutual kinship, love and a wide variety of services ranging from tattoo removal to employment services to anger management and parenting classes.
He spoke of his experiences helping ex-gang members trying to forge new lives. And he spoke about how he often has a hard time figuring out just exactly who is serving whom. And according to Fr. Boyle, that's the purpose of service: to ensure that all of us are serving each other in the effort to make a better society and a better world.
As the foundation embarks upon its 21st year of service and collaboration, the board and staff will call upon its numerous community partners to expand the "circle of compassion," until it encompasses all those in the Canton community who are powerless, voiceless and rarely considered.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.