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Support for Faith-Based Agencies Announced
Governor forms office and advisory council


August 27, 2004

Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Frank Murkowski on Wednesday announced the creation of the Alaska Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to work with grassroots community and faith-based organizations to deliver assistance to Alaskans in need.

"We want to focus on helping people to help themselves. We will now build on the work of the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Task Force and create a permanent state office to manage this important effort," Murkowski said.

Like a similar national program, Alaska intends to encourage faith-based and community volunteer groups to increase locally-delivered services and to allow them to compete on an equal footing in some cases for government grants to help those in need. Governor Murkowski wants to strengthen private support and reduce bureaucratic barriers to delivering compassion to Alaskans in need.

"All across this state, thousands of Alaskans stand ready to help those in need and government should be supporting that effort," said Health and Social Services Commissioner Joel Gilbertson. "Vulnerable Alaskans don't care who they receive their services from, they just want to make sure their needs are met."

The Department of Health and Social Services will oversee the new office, which will act as a single point of contact for grassroots community and faith-based organizations to give technical assistance, grant writing training and other help. The office will also aid groups in identifying funding sources to provide some services locally to needy Alaskans.

Murkowski is also forming an advisory council to make future recommendations on how the new office can better give local organizations a greater role in delivering needed social services to Alaskans in need.

The Advisory Council will include members from the departments of Health and Social Services, Labor, Military and Veterans Affairs, Education, and Corrections. Each agency will provide funding for the office and advisory council.

The task force began in September 2003 analyzing social service needs and gaps in service, researching the benefits of effective collaborations between government and service organizations and applying for grant funding to support future faith-based and community initiatives. The governor met with the task force on Wednesday to discuss the findings.

"We look forward to the contribution this office can make in leveraging the resources of faith and community organizations to meet the needs of fellow Alaskans," said Scott Merriner, chair of the Task Force and Pastor of Change Point Alaska in Anchorage. "And, we thank the lieutenant governor for his visionary leadership and the governor for his courageous support and action."

"I am pleased with the governor's endorsement and the offer of additional support for what has largely been a volunteer effort to help people, help people," said Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman.



Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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