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FSU Partners with Area Faith Community and Service Programs in Faith-Based Initiative

Frostburg State University has joined with FSU's national service programs and the Western Maryland faith community to create a Faith-Based Initiative. This partnership was formed to explore community issues and share resources.

"This couldn't be more timely," says Mark Scott, director of Faith Initiatives at the Corporation for National and Community Service. "A lot of good organizations don't know what the opportunities are and how to pursue them, especially partnerships with government. This is an opportunity to help them meet the needs of their communities."

The program gained momentum last February after more than 60 churches and faith-based organizations gathered for a meeting arranged by Cheryl Maistros of the Cumberland Street Ministry. Others present included Cherie Krug, director of FSU's Center for Volunteerism and National Service; Kathy Delaney, executive director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families and the Local Management Board of Allegany County; Rebecca Anderson, coordinator of FSU's *VISTA Volunteer Clearinghouse and the Rev. Theresa Mercer, state director for Faith Initiatives, Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention.

An initiative of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's Cabinet Council for Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which she chairs, this statewide effort is one of several faith partnership initiatives whereby state government agencies are training members of the faith community how to bridge the gap between them.

A survey distributed to more than 130 area churches indicated a strong interest in training in how to apply for 501c3 status, grant reading and writing.

Commenting on the community's participation in the meeting, Mercer says, "Those numbers are staggering for a rural area initiative. This three-prong team of Frostburg State, the faith community and the Local Management Board is unbeatable. This has helped some ministers feel appreciated and know they're on the right track. They have a mission that is necessary, and they come as strong service providers. They're starved to get the tools they need."

Miastros agrees. "It's a blessing to see our community knitted together and working toward common goals," she says. "The faith community has needed technical skills. It's a place to interact with secular and civil agencies."

This summer, area ministers are obtaining some of these tools through training classes held at FSU every Tuesday evening since May 28, with classroom space donated by the university. Graduation is slated for Aug. 6. Twenty-one students from the Initiative's faith community represent a variety of organizations.

Trainers, who have donated all of their time, include Lori Senese, director of the FSU's Institute of Service Learning; Pam Plotkin, director of the FSU's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs; Lori Wilson, director of A Star! in Western Maryland and organizers Maistros and Krug. Bea Boccalandro from Vera Works of Gettysburg, a company offering training services to businesses and organizations, is also donating her services.

Class topics include obtaining non-profit status, networking, grant-writing, budget preparation, evaluation and monitoring, reporting and compliance issues and outcome-based objectives.

" With the information provided in these classes, they can access state dollars and learn to find foundation, corporate and private funds," says Mercer. "Frostburg is a tremendous, non-threatening place for all faiths to come together."

At a recent national conference, Krug was told that this community and another in Mississippi are the only ones doing this type of initiative.

FSU is committed to making all of its programs, services and activities accessible to persons with disabilities. You may request accommodations through the ADA Compliance Office, (301) 687-4102, TDD (301) 687-7955.

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589