Community Director

James T. Laraia
Community Director
Almost all Community Activities support our efforts in Building the Domestic Church. Our actions should include not only Brother Knights but also our community family making up the Domestic Church.

Community Programs are a council’s ‘Visible Arm’ to their community.  These programs demonstrate to the public how your council is focused on serving the needy!

An Active Council is a council involved in their community…On this page you will find information and resources to help you perform your mission of evangelization for the Domestic Church.

The community programs and the church will position your council to bring social justice to the parishioners.  Program Pointers are here for you to utilize, the time it takes to compile this info is now saved. Hopefully, you will fill information gaps with your specific actions between now and the time the program occurs – talk with your GK’s and DD’s.  Start now and begin your planning by July 30th so…

Useful Info

    Click each of the programs below to see more information. Click the title again to collapse the information.

  • List of Community Programs
    Have you ever wondered, “How can I make my community better?” While individuals certainly can do great things on their own, Knights of Columbus members, coming together as one through their council, have accomplished great things in our communities. Councils that conduct Community Activity programs are positively shaping their communities by addressing the needs of its citizens. The following is a list of Community Programs that your council can implement:
    • Habitat for Humanity…Featured Program
      • Columbian Award Requirements for Habitat for Humanity
    • Global Wheelchair Mission…Featured Program
      • Columbian Award Requirements for the Global Wheelchair Mission
    • Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services
    • Disaster Relief
    • Social Justice
    • Gary Sinise Foundation
    • Promote Red Cross Council blood drives
    • Meals on Wheels
    • Prison Ministry
    • Adopt a highway
    • Earth Day Celebration
    • Plant trees in your community
    • Organize a community beautification project
    • Host a Mass to honor law enforcement officials, firefighters and paramedics
    • Invite your police chief and/or officers to a council meeting to get their views of community challenges.
    • Provide tutors and raise money to battle adult illiteracy
  • Habitat for Humanity
    Featured Program
    Knights of Columbus councils have addressed one of the most basic human needs — shelter — for nearly two decades by partnering with Habitat for Humanity.Habitat for Humanity’s Mission Statement is simple and true to the works of the Knights. It simply states; “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Its basic principles are:

    • Demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ
    • Focus on shelter
    • Advocate for affordable housing
    • Promote dignity and hope.

    Below is a quick check list to implement your program:

    Appoint a council member as the Habitat for Humanity Chairman

    Provide his name & contact information to the Habitat State Chairman (vacant position – currently seeking a volunteer) or to the Community Director (Jim Laraia –

    Jim will work with the GK & Habitat for Humanity Chairman to review ‘HOW TO GET INVOLVED’ and how to present the program to your membership

    Go to the Habitat website – – which will provide the local Habitat Affiliate (contact person). You can ask the affiliate’s representative what opportunities are available for council participation and/or sponsorship…Jim will walk you thru this straight forward process

    Put together a team for a Saturday work day and join others in the area that are in the building phase of a house.

    Here are steps that Supreme has provided to become involved with your local Habitat for Humanity and participate in this featured program:

    Contact your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate. Information on your local affiliate is available on the Habitat for Humanity website,

    Ask your local affiliate’s representative what opportunities are available for council participation and/or sponsorship.

    Decide on a project to participate in and/or sponsor, then publicize the project’s dates or your council’s fundraising efforts to attract participants and donors.

    Involve your parish community in the project by inviting non-members and their families to participate.

    Hold a “Thank You” or “Open House” event for all that participated in the project once your fundraising activities are complete.

    Columbian Award Requirements for Habitat for Humanity

    When your council conducts a Habitat for Humanity project and meets the minimum requirements below, it’s eligible to fulfill all four Columbian Award Community Activity requirements.

    • Complete and submit the Partnership Profile Report with Habitat for Humanity (#10092).
    • Donate a minimum of $1,000 and 200 man hours to the project.
    • Complete and submit the Columbian Award Application (#SP-7) no later than June 30. Under the Community Activities section, indicate participation with Habitat for Humanity.
    • Compete and submit your council’s Service Program Personnel Report (#365).
    • Complete and submit the Annual Survey of Fraternal Activity (#1728) no later than Jan. 31.
    • For the most up-to-date information on how your council can participate with Habitat for Humanity, please visit the Knights of Columbus website,, or the Knights of Columbus Fraternal Training Portal.


  • Global Wheelchair Mission
    Featured Program
    Since 2003, Knights of Columbus councils have worked with the Global Wheelchair Mission to deliver more than 40,000 wheelchairs to people in need throughout the world. Through the Knights of Columbus’ participation with the Global Wheelchair Mission, a wheelchair that would normally cost more than $500 can be delivered for $150. Shipped in quantities of 100 to 280 wheelchairs per container, the wheelchairs are delivered directly from the factory at no cost to the recipients.To participate in the Global Wheelchair Mission:

    • Determine a location (country) to support through your council’s donation of wheelchairs.
    • Promote the program in your parish and community, noting where the wheelchairs will be distributed.
    • Conduct targeted fundraisers to raise financial support for your council’s Global Wheelchair Mission project.
    • Invite prospective members to join in these activities.
    • Hold information nights and provide announcements concerning the fundraising initiative in your parish bulletin and local newspaper, or on local television stations.
    • Sponsor a “Thank You” event for those who donated to the initiative.
    • Columbian Award Requirements for the Global Wheelchair Mission

    When your council conducts a Global Wheelchair Mission project and meets the minimum requirements below, it will be eligible to fulfill all four Columbian Award Community Activity requirements.

    • Commit to purchasing one (1) container of one hundred (100) wheelchairs.
    • Complete and submit the Global Wheelchair Report Form (#10071).
    • Complete and submit the Columbian Award Application (#SP-7) no later than June 30. Under the Community Activities section, indicate participation with the Global Wheelchair Mission.
    • Compete and submit your council’s Service Program Personnel Report (#365).
    • Complete and submit the Annual Survey of Fraternal Activity (#1728) no later than Jan. 31.
    • For the most up-to-date information on working with the Global Wheelchair Mission, please visit or the Knights of Columbus Fraternal Training Portal.
  • Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services (VAVS)
    Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services Program identifies the needs of our Veterans. Two key programs are:
    • Coats for Vets – This Program is actively looking for New Winter Coats especially when the weather has turned cold. The need for coats is large – for example last year the Durham VA Medical Center distributed 500 coats. Please consider providing neutral colored coats to our Veterans in need.
    • Sweats for Vets – This Program needs new sweat pants and shirts in all sizes. Each VA Medical Center will distribute up to 1200 sets per year. Please consider providing sweats for our Veterans in need.

    There are many types of programs that councils support. The following is a list of these programs that your council can implement:

    • Conduct a picnic or dance.
    • Distribute flags at a patriotic event.
    • Conduct a patriotic program with your Fourth Degree.
    • Support the military, police, or fire department.
    • Support the wheel chair games for veterans.
    • Conduct a Clothing drive for the VA hospitals in NC…see ‘Coats for Vets’ and ‘Sweats for Vets’.
    • Support ‘The Military Order of the Purple Heart’ which provides Veterans with money to go home during the holidays.
    • Provide entertainment activities such as BINGO at veteran’s facilities.
    • Assist at funerals.
    • Support other social events which remembers and supports both active and retired members of our armed forces.
    • Provide Gift Cards – A Gift Card solves the challenge of items that are needed by our Veterans but not supplied by the VA. Consider Gift Cards from Walmart, Target, Grocery Stores, Restaurants and Movie Theaters.

    Keep in mind that our Veterans in the VA Medical Centers, Retirement Homes and Homeless Shelters can use your help to uplift their spirits and boost their morale. Contact the Voluntary Service Director at your VA Healthcare Center for advice on where your Council can provide coffee, cook hot dogs, share a meal or visit for a talk. These tasks which require minimal resources make a tremendous difference in the lives of our Veterans.

  • Disaster Relief
    Establishing a Council Disaster Relief Program is straight forward and very important for our brothers and their families. Most of us falsely believe or have a mindset that ‘it will never happen to us’. Developing your Council’s Disaster Relief Program is critical!Follow these steps to create your council’s Disaster Relief Program:

    • Appoint a council member as the Council’s Disaster Relief Chairman
    • You and your Disaster Relief Chairman would then identify and attract 6-10 volunteers to join the team
    • Create a line item in your Annual Budget to set aside money for Disaster Relief – let it build up year over year to use as required
    • Once your team is in place create a phone chain and provide it to the team
    • Create a list of questions and/or data to identify when the disaster occurs
    • Create some pre-planned tasks before the disaster
    • Identify a preplanned meeting place where your council can get together if your church or council hall is demolished
    • This meeting place is where the team can gather information and plan actions after a disaster
    • When meeting address the created list of questions and determine other data to identify
    • When meeting follow-up on the pre-planned tasks, create other required tasks and then assign these tasks
    • Keep your District Deputy up to date with your needs
    • The DD working with the State Disaster Relief Chairman Gene Ziemba will provide support from State and Supreme.
    • Overall preparing council leaders to respond quickly and effectively is one of the major objectives of this program.

    State Support for your brothers in need after a disaster is straight forward:

    • After an event advise your District Deputy of your brothers in need
    • Your District Deputy working with the State Disaster Relief Chairman Gene Ziemba will request support from State and Supreme
    • There is a specific protocol that Gene has established for support
    • Financial aid from State may be available through the “penny a day” program

    Once you have established a Council Disaster Relief Program your council can then become part of a larger Network of KofC Councils to support the needs of the NC community in relief and recovery periods.

    The Development of the State Disaster Relief Program involves participation in two organizations:

    • The first organization is the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters – known as VOAD. The NC KofC are now a member of VOAD. VOAD consists of groups like the American Red Cross, Baptist Ministries, United Methodists Ministries and Catholic Charities to name a few.
    • The second organization is a New Umbrella organization formed by the Diocese of Raleigh, Catholic Charities and the Knights of Columbus called NC Catholics Volunteer.

    We as Catholics typically participate in Disaster Relief in a monetary way and frequently do not have a physical presence. With the development of our State Program and your local Council Disaster Relief Programs we can leverage our network of councils to actively participate in food preparation, cleanup or assist other organizations to meet the needs of the community in relief and recovery periods.

  • Social Justice
    Social Justice is a very complicated subject. As an example, Charity tends to be simple – Charity is not usually controversial, but Social Justice almost always is. Social Justice often deals with difficult and divisive issues like the definition of marriage, stem cell research, immigration and pornography.However, you can simplify things if you look at it this way: Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless and comfort the sick and imprisoned. Any of these items are areas that we as Catholics should be doing. By combining our time and talents, our Councils can develop programs that support items like these on an ongoing basis if they are not already implemented.The Seven Themes of Catholic Social Justice Teaching are:

    • Life and Dignity of the Human Person: The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.
    • Call to Family, Community and Participation: The person is not only sacred but also part of the social fabric.
    • Rights and Responsibilities: Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met.
    • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable: A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are being treated.
    • The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers: The economy must serve the people not the other way around.
    • Solidarity: We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic or ideological difference.
    • Care for God’s Creation: We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation.

    How can we respond to Pope Francis call to care for our common home?

    We simply need to follow our Goal as members of the Knights of Columbus which is to aid the needy, feed the hungry, house the homeless, bring Christian justice to those that have been wronged and in general carry out Christ’s commandment to LOVE!

  • Gary Sinise Foundation
    Order Wide ProgramThe Gary Sinise Foundation is committed to ensuring that the sacrifices of our nation’s brave men and women of our armed forces are never forgotten. One of the many programs established by the Gary Sinise Foundation is its R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence & Supporting Empowerment).Through the R.I.S.E. program, the foundation attempts to assist wounded heroes and their families overcome their new life challenges. The Knights of Columbus encourages your council to join in the Order’s partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation by raising funds to benefit the foundation and its R.I.S.E. program. Organizing a council-sponsored trip to a sporting event, and promoting it to your parish and community, is just one of several ways to promote and raise much-needed funds for this worthy and charitable cause.For additional information on the Gary Sinise Foundation, visit
Tom DuPree
VAVS Chairman
Gene Ziemba
Disaster Relief
Chris Lizak
Social Justice
Habitat for Humanity Chairman
Global Wheelchair Chairman

The Community Director’s Blog


Tom DuPree

Greetings Brother Sir Knights, Worthy Grand Knight and Faithful Navigator,

As we transition from summer to fall, the needs of our Veterans are changing.  In my July newsletter, I pointed out the major programs that needs our support.  Hopefully, in your budgets, you have made the commitment to support these programs.  On behalf of our Veterans, VA Medical Centers and USO-NC, I want to express their appreciation for your support.

Coats for Vets:  For the past five years, the Knights of Columbus have provided NEW COATS to needy Veterans.  Again, I’m requesting your continuous support of this very important program.   Over 2,500 coats have been donated since we began.  Purchasing can be accomplished by individuals, Councils, Assemblies or donations by your individual parish.  If you would like to make a cash donation is support of the coat program, I will act on your behave to purchase and deliver coats to the VA Medical Center in your area in your name.  Credit will be given for your donation.  Click here to see the flier.

VAVS Representatives:  Welcome, SK Thomas Kotz, FDD, as our new VAVS Deputy Representative to the Asheville VA Medical Center.  Also, we need to welcome SK Thomas Mrozek as a Deputy Representative to the Durham VA Medical Center.  There still is a need for VAVS Representatives at the Salisbury VA Medical Center.  Three deputies are needed.  If you might be interested and need more information, contact SK Tom DuPree at or 919-302-5550.  The responsibilities:  *Serve as a liaison between the Knights and the Medical Center *Assist with coordination of the Knights VAVS activities at the Medical Center *Keep the Knights informed regarding VAVS needs, programs, activities or policies.

National Wheel Chair Games:  These games were held in Cincinnati, Ohio this year.  Teams from the Durham, Salisbury and Fayetteville VA attended.  Your contributions to assist these Veterans allowed them to attend.  Your funds were used to pay for hotel, transportation and shipment of equipment.  31 Veterans attended this year.  Our Veterans want to express their thankfulness to all who supported this very important program.  You are helping them see value in their lives NOW.  Orlando, Florida will hold the Games in 2018.

Needs:  Our Veterans are provided only the basic medical care by the VA Administration.  There is a tremendous need by our Veterans for socialization and life-style.  Items such as snacks, coffee, water, drinks, entertainment, are not provided and yet offer each Veteran some pleasure.  Items such as gift cards to be used to assist the Veterans for special needs, i.e.    ice cream, sandwich or last meal.   Other items needed to support a Veteran are:  tee shirts, socks, underwear, sweat shirts, sweat pants, food for homeless Vets, deodorant, hand soap, women feminine products etc..

A list can be located on each VA Medical Center Home Page.  All items must be new and current expiration dates.


SK Thomas W. (Tom) DuPree Jr. PGK, PFN, VAVS Representative Durham VA North Carolina District VAVS Representative VA,
N C State Council Veterans Affairs and VAVS Chairman
St. Francis of Assisi Assembly # 3552 Faithful Navigator