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Faith summit encourages collaboration
Leaders from Tempe’s faith community gathered for a first-ever summit to discuss collaborations with the city that could help individuals and families struggling with issues such as addiction recovery and homelessness.
Tempe City Councilmembers Joel Navarro, Robin Arredondo-Savage and Randy Keating are partnering to establish connections between local faith leaders and the city to brainstorm ways to address community concerns together with compassion and creativity.
After meeting with 30 faith leaders in June, Navarro said he is encouraged about the possibilities for collaboration and eager to hear more about the work being done in the community.
“By making connections with our faith leaders, and by extension their congregants, we can work together on any number of issues facing our community,” Navarro said. “You just don’t know how someone can help meet a need or solve an emerging concern until you ask.”
That collaboration could be something as simple as a job offer for a person who may be unable to find employment because of a criminal record.
“If the job piece doesn’t come together for a person in recovery, then none of the other pieces come together to be successful,” Navarro said.
Looking ahead, the councilmembers envision informal conversations and sharing as opportunities and needs arise. The city expects to host an annual faith summit to strengthen collaboration and celebrate successes.
Attendee Marcus Johnson, stake president of the Tempe Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, appreciated the opportunity to meet with city leaders and others working to address community issues such as drug addiction and mental health.
Having contacts at the city is key, Johnson said.
“We all face the same challenge of limited resources and manpower,” Johnson said. “That’s where working together and being aware of resources that are available from the city, being aware of what guidance we can receive, is important.”
Navarro was inspired to organize the summit by a National League of Cities’ gathering in April with the U.S. Department Health and Human Services’ Partnership Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives. The group, which included elected officials from across the country, discussed ways that municipalities can partner with local faith groups to tackle community concerns.
Tempe has a history of working with the faith community through I-HELP, Tempe’s Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program. Coordinated by Tempe Community Action Agency, local faith organizations and community volunteers provide overnight sleeping space, evening meals, showers and laundry for up to 40 homeless men and women.
Faith leaders who are interested in collaboration with the city should contact Tim Gomez at 480-350-8816.
For information about Tempe’s Human Services Department, visit tempe.gov/HumanServices.