Faith-Based entities have always been an essential element in the world, providing opportunity for change and fostering social, political, and community development.
These agencies play a major role in providing services to individuals in the United States. Faith-based entities are non-profit organizations (voluntary and community groups) that focus on several issues at the community level such as leadership, health, education, financial sustainability, the environment and other social issues. These entities range from small congregation-based soup kitchens to multibillion-dollar social service and economic agencies.
Notably, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and Feed the Children are international and national organizations that have a ubiquitous impact throughout the world. In addition to the international and national faith-based institutions, there are some local faith-based organizations that are significant in the development of their local communities in Alabama. One example of an organization that is making a difference in Alabama is the Greater Peace Community Development Corporation (GPCDC) located in Opelika, Alabama. The mission of the Greater Peace CDC is to forge common community identity and develop shared vision among major groups and stakeholders within the community for the development of community-based leadership to economically revitalize distressed neighborhoods in the Lee County area.
The GPCDC was established on May 16, 2000 as a public non-profit organization. The GPCDC has developed and conducted a host of programs that emphasize youth, community, and economic development. The GPCDC’s involvement in youth development includes the following: Pre-K Program, Child Development Center, Youth Leadership Academy, Summer Enrichment Program, STEM and Mentoring/Tutoring services. In the area of community and economic development, the GPCDC has conducted a Fatherhood Entrepreneurship Workshop (assisting non-custodial fathers in the development of small businesses to financially support their families), constructed 48 single-family homes and conducted several workshops on leadership, community development, financial empowerment and a host of other topics. Also, GPCDC is a part of the Alabama Association of Community Development Corporations (AACDC), the statewide organization that provides leadership and resources to community development corporations in Alabama.
Greater Peace and other local faith-based entities will continue to play a major role in society. Non-profits are critical in the overall success of each community. As we prepare for our upcoming leadership programs, let’s always remember the significance of the faith entities in our local region. Please engage them in the discussion and note they are there as a valuable resource for the betterment of the community. Identify the faith-based entities in your area and develop a plan to work with them.
Arturo Menefee, Ph.D.
Director of Leadership Development
The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development