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Building on relationships he has forged over the last three years, County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced on Jan. 16 the appointment of a liaison for faith-based organizations in the county, part of a community partnership that he hopes will help clergy and their affiliated organizations cut through government red tape and share information.
"Helping the neediest among us is greatly enhanced by strengthening the bonds between county government and religious organizations in our community," Astorino said. "The goal here is to help our clergy get quick answers as they try to understand and access the services available through county government. We also hope it will be a way for religious organizations to share information and resources – with the county and with each other. By working together we can all get more done."
He announced that Rosa Boone, deputy social services commissioner for family investment since September 2011, will take on added duties as his liaison to the faith-based community. In addition to her current duties, she will:
- Serve as Astorino's direct link to the county's clergy
- Build stronger relationships between county departments and faith-based organizations to improve the delivery of services
- Assist faith-based organizations in obtaining information regarding government assistance, government contracts and other county services
"Rosa's long list of accomplishments and her previous experience as an advocate for the needy, including her service as executive director of the Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless, make her an ideal choice to lead this effort," Astorino said. "She will be the go-to person for our clergy."
"As someone who has worked closely with community organizations for almost two decades, I know the great work done by religious groups," said Boone. "Budgets are always tight. Sharing ideas, expertise and resources is a way we can leverage programs and services to do more for those who need our help."
Astorino made the announcement at a news conference, where he was joined by representatives of some of the houses of worship and organizations that the initiative is designed to help. A letter describing the FCP was also sent to clergy and religious organizations in the county.
A special section of the county's Web site, www.westchestergov.com/Faith, has been devoted to this new initiative, and clergy are asked to go to it and sign up using the Faith-based Community Partnership online registration form.
Astorino stressed that this new initiative supplements, but does not replace, his ongoing efforts to meet with the religious community. Since taking office he has:
- Met regularly with the United Black Clergy of Westchester to discuss issues of concern in local neighborhoods, an open dialogue that has helped the county government better meet the needs of the community
- Met regularly with Hispanic clergy to discuss issues in their diverse communities
- Met with members of the Catholic and Protestant clergy bi-monthly, at which time different department heads have also addressed the groups
- Made it a priority to attend Sunday services at churches throughout the county to better understand our diverse communities
- Met frequently with various leaders of the Westchester Jewish Council
- Attended a variety of events from other religious-affiliated groups, including Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist.