Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • DOJ Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Contributes to DC Public Safety Television Segment on Reentry

    I recently had the opportunity to contribute to a segment with Christine Keels, Supervisory Program Analyst and the Faith-Based Initiative Team Leader of Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA). The segment, named “Faith-Based Initiatives for Offender Reentry”, appeared on DC Public Safety Television and was a combined effort of my office and CSOSA.

    As the video explains, “the faith community has long been an important force in improving public safety, offender reentry, and victim services.  Many faith-based organizations are uniquely suited to bringing together residents and local leaders to address challenges.” Among these efforts, CSOSA has joined 100 faith institutions in a mentoring program for formerly incarcerated individuals—resulting in 200 mentors being matched with 300 mentees—and approximately 500 formerly incarcerated individuals have successfully completed the program since August 2007.

  • HUD Focuses on the Food Desert Problem in D.C.

    On August 25th, 2012, the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD CFBNP) participated in a “Farmers Market: Food Desert” community outreach event to raise the awareness and importance of eating healthy and nutritious food. 

    The event, held at St. Elizabeths East Campus in the District of Columbia,  focused on bringing up and educating a healthier generation of kids in America focusing on the benefits of eating nutritious food. HUD CFBNP was happy to partner with the District of Columbia (D.C.) Ward 8 Farmer’s Market, the D.C. Office of Deputy Mayor Victor L. Hoskins, the HUD D.C. Field Office, America’s Miss D.C. Sarah Elizabeth Hillware, and executive chef, Dwayne Hickman of the Reef restaurant in Dupont Circle. Celebrated artist and founder of Sage of Anacostia, Melani Douglass also presented and spoke about the importance of cleaning food prior to eating or cooking it and how it relates to good health and well-being. 

    “Farmers Market: Food Desert” participants

    “Farmers Market: Food Desert” participants help raise the awareness and importance of eating healthy and nutritious food at a D.C. farmers market. (Photo by Michael Megginson)

  • Fathers and Families Moving Forward in the Land of Enchantment

    The efforts to help dads be better dads got a big boost on August 10 at the second New Mexico Fatherhood Forum. Hosted by the New Mexico Alliance for Fathers and Families at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, this gathering highlighted the efforts of President Obama’s responsible fatherhood initiative and many others.

    The New Mexico Alliance brings together almost 20 organizations and agencies from around the state, in coordination with the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.  Led by Allan Shedlin, Crispin Clarke, Erwin Rivera, Esther Devall and others, the New Mexico Alliance continues to shine the spotlight on how government policies, community efforts and culture can all contribute to strengthening families through helping fathers.

    This is the second time interested parties from federal, state and local governments, civil society and others have gathered to highlight initiatives to help fathers.  Two years ago, we gathered in rural Valencia for the inaugural meeting.  Since then, the Alliance issued a comprehensive report of their recommendations and the New Mexico State Legislature passed a memorial designating August 10, 2012 as “New Mexico Fathers and Families Day.”  The theme continued to highlight the cultural traditions of Rural America, Hispanic and Native Americans.

  • Students in Camden Inspire Their Community and Share Lessons with HHS Staff

    In July, the HHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships had the privilege of meeting with a group of young people who have done more for their community in five months than others might do in a lifetime.  The Student Leaders' Von Nieda Park Task Force of St. Anthony of Padua Church and School in Camden, New Jersey is a group of highly motivated, energized middle school students who were unhappy about what they saw in their community and decided to take action.

    The students shared their passion for making change in their community with staff from the HHS Partnership Center and the Administration for Children and Families.

    First Camden Kids image

    Genesis Santana tells a story about “Our Friend Ron,” a former janitor at St. Anthony of Padua Church and School. (by Heather Wilson/PICO National Network)

    The students’ most recent project was the beautification of Von Nieda Park in Camden, which borders their school and had been given the nickname, "The Most Depressing Park in the Nation."

    In only five months, the students removed graffiti, repaired and painted benches, removed illegally dumped trash and construction debris, installed new swings and basketball nets, constructed two community notice boards, and removed hazardous objects.

  • It Takes a County … to Help Feed Families!

    Bread of Life Food Pantry Volunteers

    In small rural communities like Cedar County, Iowa it takes many people wearing different hats to coordinate a successful food drive effort. This group gleaned for the Bread of Life Food Pantry to help support USDA’s Feds Feed Families campaign.

    USDA employees at the Tipton Service Center in Iowa are making impressive contributions to this year’s Feds Feed Families campaign. USDA Rural Development employee Mike Boyle reported food donations exceeding 750 pounds for the month of June and 1,760 pounds in July – just a portion of what is expected to be distributed throughout Tipton and surrounding eastern Iowa communities as part of the food drive this summer.

    “We’re off to a good start,” said Boyle. “Last season, we donated approximately five tons of food to local non-profits. Our goal now is to top that.”

    What makes these efforts unique is that most of the food pledged comes from a local source, Tipton’s Hardacre Community Garden. Boyle and a small legion of volunteers donate their free time to grow fresh produce for neighbors in need. With hands in the dirt, these gardening enthusiasts cultivate a wide array of healthy fruits and vegetables. What’s grown is donated as part of the People’s Garden Initiative year-round ‘Share Your Harvest’ effort which directly supports the Feds Feed Families Food Drive.

    The immediate recipients of the harvest are local individuals, churches, and nonprofit organizations such as the Cedar Manor nursing care center and the Bread of Life Food Pantry. These donations provide for those who may otherwise be unable to access fresh foods and help to build a healthy community food system.

  • Effective Strategies for Working with Fathers Returning from Prison

    I was pleased to represent the Department of Justice’s Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships on a webinar hosted by the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse.

    I believe strongly that having a responsible father engaged in the life of his children can play a key role in the preventing many serious social issues in our communities. Cities and towns throughout the country are becoming more familiar with the alarming statistics which indicate that father absence can lead to a wide variety of deficiencies in a child’s life. It does not always occur, however research has indicated that father absence can lead to poor academic performance, and in some instances lead to delinquent behaviors.

    It was my distinct pleasure and honor to co-present on this important topic along with:

    • Tassalie McKay of RTI International of Durham, North Carolina
    • Pastor Marvin Charles of D.A.D.S Program of Seattle, Washington

    Each of the presenters discussed the startling statistics around father absence, including the fact that roughly 24 million children live without their biological fathers in their lives (this is more than 1 in 3 children). One in twenty eight children in this nation is living in a circumstance where one of their parents are incarcerated. Tassalie discussed lessons learned from the National Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Reentering Fathers and Their Partners (MFS-IP). Pastor Charles shared some very practical insights into what dads face when returning from prison and the supportive services that they provide at the D.A.D.S. program in Seattle.