Faith-based Organizations Called to Improve Community

( [email protected] ) Mar 15, 2004 09:10 AM EST

Rochester N.Y. – Residents of northeast and southwest Rochester are turning to faith-based organizations to improve the deprived condition of the neighborhood because of poverty, drug dealers, crimes, and prostitution.

“People of faith, they could change things,” said Earnestine Robinson, who began thinking of tapping churches for help about three years ago. She said, “I seen the shape (the neighborhood is) getting in, and it just made me feel that it’s time for somebody to do something.”

The efforts put into bring change by local residents like Robinson have produced some improvements, almost having their dreams come true. A day-long conference titled, “The Seed That Exists,” sponsored by North East Area Development Inc. (NEAD) will be held on Saturday at East High School, after two years of planning and extensive research. If the conference produces successful results, the organizers are thinking of expanding it to a citywide event. About 200 organizations are invited to attend the conference.

According to George Moses, NEAD’s community coordinator, most of the participants may be already engaged in their own community service but none of them are effective enough to make an impact on the community’s problems.

“Most seem to operate in a vacuum and not connect to communities as a whole,” says Moses. “We need their efforts to connect as part of something else.”

The conference, which has been funded by a $9,800 Eastman Kodak Co. grant awarded two years ago, will attempt to establish that connection. It will bring the congregants together with professional community activists, who will hold four workshops throughout the day. The workshops will focus on the workings of the court system, teen counseling techniques, effective outreach and conflict resolution and mediation.

The conference will be preceded the night before with a “Voices Against Violence” concert, a fundraiser and a showcase for local choirs, bands and a dramatist.

Robinson who has been preparing for the event, is hopeful that the conferment will bring some change. “By having this conference, more people are getting involved,” she said, “Hopefully, we’ll see a change.”

Pastor Carley Touchstone of Glad Tidings Church, who also feels the need of such event, is hoping for good results. “I’m hoping that coming together, getting to know each other and getting to know the resources will strengthen our effectiveness in the community,” said Touchstone.