Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment
The mission of the CAJE Organization is to draw together people of faith to act powerfully to address local community issues through processes of relationship building, direct action, and negotiation with decision-makers.
Suicide Prevention In response to the area’s suicide epidemic CAJE pushed to have Warrick, Vanderburgh and Posey county sheriff departments train and equip all their deputies with the opioid overdose antidote Narcan. Just two short months after Warrick county deputies began carrying Narcan a deputy saved the life of a man who overdosed on Christmas Eve by using Narcan. After sixteen months of research and action by CAJE the Evansville Police Department has agreed to instate a pilot program so Narcan will be in every sector of the city.
Dental Care At the 2014 Nehemiah Action CAJE won commitments from Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, ECHO’s Sandy Strader-McMillan and County Council President Tom Shetler to find funding for ECHO Health’s proposed dental care program. This program would give low income and members of the community access to quality dental care at a sliding scale cost. Funding was found for the program during the summer of 2014 and there are currently 19 area dentists involved in the program, with that number growing. This allows them to serve around 3,000 members of the community.
Youth Homelessness After discovering that 1/3 of all young adults who aged out of the foster care system were ending up homeless within two years, CAJE took action. They convened representatives from local banks, energy companies, and landlords to hold a First-Time Renter’s Workshop in the fall of 2013. Though primarily geared towards those aging out of the foster care or court systems, the workshop was open to the public and included education about the rights and responsibilities of renters as well as assistance in opening a free checking account. Workshop attendees were given a certificate of completion which can be used in lieu of renter’s history, something most former foster youth lack.
Drug Treatment In 2012, CAJE got Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, County Council President Tom Shetler, State Senator Jim Tomes, County Prosecutor Nick Hermann, Judge Wayne Trockman, and Drug Treatment Court Director Larry Paul to form a working group to find funding for expansion of drug treatment court in the county. Drug treatment court is a proven method for lowering criminal recidivism and drug addiction, but had been severely understaffed in Vanderburgh County, resulting in long waitlists. The working group created by CAJE leveraged $1 million for the expansion of drug treatment court, resulting in a 20% expansion of the number of participants in the program annually.
Jobs for Ex-Offenders In 2011, CAJE got the city of Evansville to remove the box on initial job applications for all city positions (excluding sensitive positions like fire and police) that asks applicants about felony convictions. The removal evens out the playing field and allows employers to focus on applicants’ current work history and not on past mistakes. Background checks are now conducted only after a conditional offer is made to an individual.
Public Transportation CAJE’s initiative to improve public transportation in Warrick County has expanded. The first route was created in Newburgh, IN and has now expanded to Chandler, IN and Boonville, IN. A fourth route is in development stages and will be launched on the East side of Newburgh, IN. The bus service has already serviced over 20,000 individuals.
CAJE also won the expansion of public transportation up the Highway 41North corridor, connecting the thousands of unemployed people in Vanderburgh county with the over 200 employers located in the 41 North corridor. The route has served more than 23,000 riders and is in talks of being expanded.
Code Enforcement At their first Nehemiah Assembly, CAJE asked Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel to improve housing code enforcement. As a result, he restructured the department so that the entire city is now being inspected, and the number of housing code enforcement inspectors was increased from five to eight.
CAJE is a coalition of 18 diverse congregations.
In the past year, CAJE has trained over 120 leaders, nearly 500 leaders participated in our annual listening process and over 200 leaders have participated in building strong justice ministry networks in their congregations.
713 North Second Ave.
Evansville, IN 47710
Tel. 812 760-3700 or 812 760-3811