Regional Collaborative Networks Work to Sustain Faith in Action Sites

Field of Work: Providing volunteer services for elderly and disabled people through interfaith programs.

Problem Synopsis: In 1983, more than 10 million American elderly or persons with chronic disabilities had limited ability to carry on such essential activities of daily living as feeding, dressing, and bathing. Such individuals usually require a mix of medical and supportive services to help with ordinary activities of daily living such as feeding, bathing, dressing, housekeeping and transportation. Regional collaborative networks of Faith in Action projects took on a variety of activities together to try and strengthen their work.

Synopsis of the Work: Faith in Action, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), funded more than 1,700 projects across the country to support interfaith volunteer caregiving. The collaborative networks ranged in size from six to 36 projects and encompassed different sized geographic areas: from regions in states, such as Northeastern New York State and Austin, Texas, to entire states, such as Florida, Ohio and North Dakota to multi-state regions, such as Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Two-year grants from RWJF to support the collaborative networks ran from 2006 to 2008, although some extended their funding until 2009.

One Story Told: In Arkansas, the regional collaborative formed out of a desire among Arkansas' Faith in Action projects to continue the networking and friendships that had grown over the years, especially as the national program office prepared to close, said Carol Smith, the executive director of the Arkansas Faith in Action Coalition, Inc., Little Rock, Ark.

The Arkansas collaborative focused on strengthening Faith in Action sites as well as other interfaith coalitions. The collaborative held 12 workshops in 2007 across the state for Faith in Action projects and other interfaith projects. The workshops covered such topics as writing grants, community partnerships and leadership and organizational development. The collaborative had 19 members, about 11 of which were Faith in Action projects.