Religious leaders from throughout the Naperville area will meet later this month to discuss cuts in government spending and the impact they have on the community during a program coordinated by Naperville Cares.
The luncheon and panel discussion will be Oct. 25 at Knox Presbyterian Church.
“Our hope for the panel discussion is that religious leaders in Naperville come to a better understanding of the impact of cuts in government spending on our social safety net in DuPage County,” said Tom Cordaro, justice-outreach minister at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Naperville.
Janet Derrick, executive director of Naperville Cares, said the organization has hosted luncheons with religious leaders as well as representatives from outside groups and volunteers since its inception 14 years ago. The nonprofit organization, which is sponsored by area churches, helps local families by providing financial support and resources to meet essential needs during times of financial crisis.
Derrick said the objective of the discussion Oct. 25 is to “foster dialogue.”
“This is a great way for people to meet face-to-face to maximize assistance within the community,” she said.
The upcoming luncheon and panel discussion, she said, was developed to permit senior pastors and members of the community “to talk about cutbacks and problems and how they’re impacting relief.”
While Naperville Cares receives no money from the state and little federal assistance, the cutbacks have a “trickle-down effect because we’re trying to connect people to programs that have been or will be impacted,” Derrick said.
The topic is relevant because statistics show that suburban poverty is growing.
“There are more people living in the suburbs in poverty, than in the city of Chicago. There’s been a huge increase,” Derrick said.
In the past 12 years since she’s been with Naperville Cares, the poverty rate in Naperville has doubled to 5.5 percent. Last year, Derrick said, 800 families came to Naperville Cares seeking assistance.
“We provided direct financial assistance to 515,” she said. “Twenty-seven individuals got a donated vehicle from us, and 18 families had their vehicles repaired by us.”
Cordaro said coordinators of the event are hoping for two outcomes.
“First, we are hoping that religious leaders will encourage their congregations to step up and fill in the gap left by these cuts by contributing more money and providing more volunteers to social service agencies in our community,” he said.
“Second, we hope these religious leaders will enlist their congregations in advocating for the poor in our communities who have no vote in the halls of power in Washington and Springfield,” Cordaro said.
Religious leaders are encouraged to support the interfaith effort called The Faithful Budget Campaign (faithfulbudget.org).
“We need increased awareness of what’s going on in the community and how we’re working to solve it,” Derrick said.
For additional information, visit www.napervillecares.org or call 630-369-0200.
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