2020 JPIC Award Winner is Announced

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Carolyn Townes, OFS, National J.P.I.C Animator has announced that Monica Olivera, OFS, is the winner of the 2020 J.P.I.C Award. Below please read about the work that Monica does in serving those who are in need:

“Monica Olivera, OFS, Juan de Padilla Region Monica formed the non-profit foundation, Outreach to First Nation People in Lawrence, Kansas, in March, 2016. The program provides clothing, shoes, bedding, blankets, dinnerware and kitchenware, furniture, toys, and books to remote Native American reservations which as a result of being so remote are highly unlikely to have access to agencies and organizations offering assistance of this nature. The majority of items are obtained through donations from local churches subsequent to “church” sales when an abundance of items remain unsold. After the clothing items are sorted and boxed and a sufficient amount of items are collected, a trip to an appropriate reservation is planned. A contact person on the reservation is identified who will ensure a fair and wide distribution of the items on the reservation. A large moving truck is rented for the transportation of the items. In addition, throughout the year, toys for children are collected so that when a trip is made to the reservation prior to the Christmas season, these items will be available to take on the trip. Two local Catholic schools have participated in a matching program where each student provides a requested toy for a student on the reservation as well as a winter coat of the correct size. Monica has arranged and coordinated all of the activities described above and has ensured the success of the program. All of the activities are performed by volunteers from the Brother Jacoba fraternity as well as from the community. Transportation (truck rental, insurance, and gas) are the single on-going expense for the program. During summer months when toys are sold at drastically reduced prices, toys will be purchased for the pre-Christmas trip to a reservation. Typically, three or four trips are made each year which are dependent on the quantity of donated items obtained and monetary donations made to fund the transportation costs. Most monetary donations are from individuals and the Brother Jacoba fraternity. Individual grant awards have been made from the National Secular Franciscan Order and significant donations from the Franciscan Capuchins. Whenever challenges and obstacles arise in these endeavors, Monica perseveres in her pursuit of her goal to serve the poor. As a result during the past four years, multiple trips have been made to the Hopi and Navajo reservations in Arizona and the Yankton Lakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota. In addition, trips to the Tohono O”Odham Nation in southern Arizona where in addition to the clothing and other items over 5,000 children’s books which had been donated through the Kansas library system were transported to create a children’s library on the reservation; to the Omaha tribe and the Winnebago Tribe reservations in northeast Nebraska; to the Prairie Band of the Potawatomi Nation in eastern Kansas; and donations to the Kickapoo Tribe of Indians in northeast Kansas. Monica’s heart reaches out to these forgotten poor who live in remote and desolate areas of our country as outcasts and where the living conditions are appalling and degrading. She has brought people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds in her community to unite them in an effort to help the forgotten poor on the reservations.”