Representative Andy Biggs (AZ-05)
Though the words faith and religion do not have one generally accepted definition, cities in the East Valley of the Sun (Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, and Queen Creek) have the definition characterized by James; “to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.”
In Gilbert, Arizona, one community church’s social contributions include an adoption assistance program, to provide financial support to the families in church during the adoption process. This program also provides support to other organizations, including those that provide clothing for orphans and Christmas presents for children in need. The church operates a care center, to provide supplemental food and clothing to those in need regardless of age, race, religion, or national origin. This program is supported by several organizations, including six local churches and Gilbert Schools.
In Chandler, Arizona, one ministry program through a Christian fellowship gives away on average, roughly 60 - 70 lbs. of food to about 90 families. Elsewhere in chandler, an interfaith organization operates an emergency lodging program for homeless individuals that is supported by 18 churches. The program, in its third year of operation, actively responds when temperatures approach 120 degrees, by taking up to 30 guests per night. As of 2016, the program has provided:
Number of Participants/Guests: 391
Number of clients enrolled in case management: 228
Number receiving employment: 85
Number who gained housing: 58
Number of Volunteers: 4318
Volunteer hours: 12967
In Mesa, one faith-based regional initiative brings nonprofit, business, education and government leaders together to maximize resources and efforts while working for systemic solutions in human services germane to federal, state and local legislation, policies and appropriations. The community issues that are being considered if proposed budget cuts were enacted include: behavioral health and substance abuse, homelessness and rmergency housing, veterans, and community impact.
Also in Mesa, one faith-based food bank collaborates with a network of more than 200 organizations and churches to distribute food to hungry people in the greater East Valley. For every $1 donated, the food bank can distribute four meals to hungry people.
Each year, about 40 percent of the food produced for people to eat in the United States goes to waste. This collaborative faith-based food bank is working to get some of that food into the hands of those who need it and is designed to recover a variety of nutritious foods from local grocery stores for food pantries and meal programs.