cropped-OC-Logo2.gifThe Chapter Charities Story

  1. The Beginnings

In the early days of the Orange County Chapter, the leaders met with Bishop William Johnson to find a project for the Knights of the Chapter to participate in.  This was a common practice for all Chapters and Bishop Johnson was fairly new to Orange County.  He had come to the County after working in Los Angeles’ Diocesan Social Services.  The Diocese or Orange was established in 1976 and Bishop Johnson was the first bishop.

Bishop Johnson met with Msgr. John Sammon, Chapter President Fred Riley, and Frank Nigro in 1977.  His idea was for the Knights to come up with service programs that would benefit the handicapped and shut-ins of the County that his Diocesan programs could not reach.  Orange County Chapter Charities was formed in October 1977.

One of the earliest projects that the Chapter took on was to aid the Columbian House, a respite care home for Intellectually Disabled clients that was run by the Sisters of St. Louis.  The original house was a facility in Garden Grove that could care for 6 clients.  Early tasks taken on by the Chapter largely involved renovation and facility improvements such as painting, erecting new fences, electrical upgrades, and similar efforts.  This was the Chapter’s first close work with the Intellectually Disabled and as a “Hands On” project, the Knights of Orange County fully embraced it.

Money to support Columbian House was raised through various charity focused activities.  Each Council contributed as they were able.  The Chapter conducted a Charity benefit banquet in honor of Bishop Johnson and raised $2000.00 specifically for Columbia House.  The program was deemed a success and Bishops of Orange County have charged the Knights of Orange County with continuing this work for the Intellectually Disabled up through the present.

  1. Incorporation and the ID Drive

In 1985 Frank Nigro became the California State Deputy and learned about a fundraising program that was being conducted by the Knights of Columbus in Illinois.  Knights would stand in various public locations and hand out specially packaged Tootsie Rolls to passersby while holding collection cans showing that they were Knights and were collecting for charitable causes.  The then State Deputy of Illinois told Frank that the program was a tremendous success.  Frank introduced the program to Orange County and it was tried for two years to see how well it might work on the West Coast.  The results of two years success made the case to extend the program throughout California and the ID drive, as we know it today, was born.

The early ID drives were successful, but the leaders believed that making donations tax deductible would make them grow.  In order to make this happen, it was necessary to create a non-profit corporation that met the rules of the IRS 501c 3 structure.  One important point about the requirements of 501c 3 is that that corporations beneficiaries must be non-sectarian.  Careful review of the Chapter’s program of support to the intellectually challenged clients of Columbia House met this requirement and the Orange County Chapter Charities (OCCC) was legally incorporated.

An important element in the movement of ID contributions to the clients of our Chapter’s programs is Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Orange.  They are the Bishops’ managers who oversee the distribution of contributions, ensuring that they are spent for the purpose that they were collected.

3. Camp Re-Creation

Columbia House closed and to serve more clients, the proceeds from the ID drives were dedicated to Camp Re-Creation operated by Catholic Charities. A week long summer camp as well as several weekend camps are held each year.

Camp Re-Creation, Weekend Getaway and ACE are residential camps for adults and children with disabilities to experience spiritual, emotional, mental and physical growth. For more than 38 years, our camps have provided hundreds of campers and thousands of volunteers the opportunity to create friendships and memories to last a lifetime through specially designed programs for those with special needs.

Our mission is to provide a safe, fun and spiritual environment where campers can shine, respite for their loving caregivers and encouragement of acceptance and volunteerism among Southern California’s youth. Camp and its’ affiliate programs are provided through Catholic Charities of Orange County at little to no cost to participants through the generous funding from the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Charities of Orange County and community donors.  READ MORE

4.  Day of Sharing

A fun filled carnival for people with special needs sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Chapter Charities.