As many of you know, I came out of retirement to lead Episcopal Community Services in Philadelphia. Our focus is on the region’s most vulnerable, and we look to provide the tools and services that enable individuals to lift themselves up and out of poverty – and, where not possible, provide stability, with a clear goal to restore the dignity of choice.
We are fortunate to be a faith-based social service agency. As such, we do this work with in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, and with our brothers and sisters at Lutheran Children and Family Service, Lutheran Settlement House, Jewish Family and Children’s Service, Methodist Services, and The Village. The common organization is called the Faith-Based Alliance.
We recently formalized our focus and role of the Alliance in the region. The purpose of the Alliance is to leverage the common talent and networks to better serve our clients and to promote the common good. In a time of increasing needs in the region and the challenges of rising expense and shrinking revenues, the Alliance’s goal is, by working together, to drive the most efficient and productive set of services possible. By lessening duplication of services, cross referral of clients, and finding opportunities for sharing resources, the Alliance looks to improve the social return on investment for funders and raise the impact and quality level of current services and programs.
With over 170 years of service to the region, and currently serving thousands of clients, the Faith-Based Alliance members have been meeting the needs of the most vulnerable and changing lives and outcomes through progressive, quality driven programs and services. Each organization, while well respected in its own right and by working in a coordinated structure, can deliver improved services and operate more productively. Some examples included common training for employees and volunteers, expert and respected commentary with respect to public policy, common advocacy in the areas of poverty, mental illness, disability, aging, and stability, and the development of a cross referral network of services that avoid duplication.
The Alliance is led by each organization’s senior leader and supported by each organization’s board. It is driven by the belief that by working together we can accomplish more than an individual organization.
Drawing on each other and the large network of associated faith denominations, the network of professionals and volunteers in the potential pool of resources is significant. By coordinating programs and training, that potential can be leveraged to some of the most pressing needs in our communities.
In November, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, we will hold the first Volunteer Training Institute focused on the issues of poverty and the best practices to address these complex and difficult issues.
We hope you will reach out and participate in our work. Volunteer, give the issues of poverty your attention, become an advocate for change, give to the member organizations, and in whatever your tradition is, pray for our work.
Join us. We know we are stronger together and the challenges of poverty, hate, race, wellness, and homelessness seem a bit less daunting.