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1999 Best Practices
Success Stories

Program Name: Strategies to Elevate People
Program Focus: Fair Housing
Geographic Area: Southeast/Caribbean
State: Alabama
City: Montgomery

Executive Summary
"It takes a village to raise a child" …or counsel a struggling family … or help a single mother find daycare. In Montgomery, AL, residents are doing just that. Over 500 volunteers from 26 area churches have united to provide a range of supportive services to residents at nine public housing developments.

In this unique initiative called the Strategies to Elevate People (STEP) Program, volunteers represent churches from 10 denominations in both African-American and Caucasian communities. The church leaders partnered with federal agencies, private businesses, financial institutions and other groups to meet the social, spiritual and supportive service needs of residents. By working together, volunteers were able to galvanize enough of the "right" resources to meet the individuals’ collective needs. This became critical as church leaders realized the magnitude of this undertaking and the value of involving other organizations. Collaborative work proved successful because the groups involved were able to raise $270,000 of in-kind donations for the STEP Program.

Volunteers worked to improve the residents’ quality of life by sponsoring recreational programs, youth activities, tutoring and various social support services. The STEP Program enabled residents to develop an enhanced sense of pride in themselves and in their community. The overall success of these efforts also helped to restore residents’ trust in law enforcement and in multi-cultural initiatives.
For example, during a recent police chase, an alleged perpetrator ran into a public housing development to hide. To his surprise, residents quickly alerted police about his location and he was promptly arrested. This story illustrates the renewed trust that residents have for local law enforcement. In the past, residents would refuse to inform the police of such happenings.

Clearly, the residents of these public housing developments have benefited from the services provided. Additionally, the city of Montgomery and these volunteers enjoy the benefits of reduced crime levels, an enhanced sense of community, and the satisfaction that comes from partnering individuals from diverse cultures. This was truly a cooperative partnership that empowered residents and volunteers alike.

Montgomery Housing Authority and 26 churches including over 500 volunteers.

Financing: $270,000 of in-kind donations.

Point of Contact: Wiley Thomas, Jr. , Phone: 334-206-7200

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Content Archived: April 20, 2011

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