Taking responsibility seriously

Published 9:53 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One of the great things about the faith community in Suffolk is the way that people of faith from different denominations pull together to achieve the common goal of helping out those who are less fortunate.

Since 1995, Impact Suffolk has organized the efforts of dozens of Suffolk-area church congregations to put together Thanksgiving food giveaways, citywide prayer meetings and other events designed to minister to the community.

Building on the success of Impact Suffolk, another group of 12 churches combined efforts earlier this year to form the Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk. The purpose of the organization is to centralize the efforts of its member churches to handle the many requests for assistance that come into their offices.


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The Rev. Les Ferguson, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church and the chairman of the organization’s board of directors, said the pastors of the initial four churches began meeting when they realized the same people were coming back month after month asking for assistance.

Since then, organizers have been working to help those who seek their assistance find ways to get out of the situations that put them in trouble in the first place. To do that job more effectively, CAPS recently hired a services coordinator to help connect people in need with assistance and resources in the community.

Lorna Slaughter has been working with CAPS for about a month. The churches collaborate to fund Slaughter’s position and the financial assistance that goes to clients. From helping to pay utility bills and rent to directing clients to the community resources available to help them get their lives back on track, CAPS finds ways to help people get back on their feet. And then Slaughter spends time teaching them about budgeting so they do not find themselves back in the same situations that landed them in her office in the first place.

There are times when it’s appropriate for government agencies to step in and help families in need. But faith-based organizations like CAPS and Impact Suffolk also have a biblical directive to step in and help improve the lives of others in their community. It’s encouraging to see them take that responsibility so seriously.