FREEHOLD, NJ – Faith-based initiatives gained a major foothold in the county recently through action of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders. These initiatives benefit from the deep networks and even deeper commitment of faith-based groups. They leverage the shared talent, knowledge and success with initiatives that affect communities throughout the county and the state.

According to their news release, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently passed a resolution to establish the Monmouth County Faith-Based Initiative to identify and bring together, in a collaborative way, the services and resources offered by faith-based or other non-governmental organizations to help County residents in need.

The initiative will be modeled after a similar, highly successful program undertaken in Middletown – the Middletown Faith-Based Initiative, which was implemented to provide services and assistance to residents without impacting municipal finances.

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“Our country, since its inception, has relied heavily on the resources of faith-based and charitable service organizations to help care for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals of our society,” said Freeholder Gerry P. Scharfenberger, Ph.D.  “As state and county budgets continue to tighten, it is important to identify creative ways to save taxpayer dollars without compromising services that people need.  The least we can do as elected officials is step in to help expand services through partnerships and lend our county’s support wherever possible.”

Dr. Scharfenberger has been a part of Middletown and the Township Committee as well as serving as Mayor of Middletown. In this instance, he is able facilitate work with fellow faith-based organizations for the good of all, after experiencing the value in Middletown.

According to the county, the goal of the resolution is to take steps to promote collaboration between these organizations and the County to conduct an inventory review of the resources and services available throughout the county to help better organize assistance efforts; review County resources and services to find where collaboration can be leveraged to reach more people in need; develop a system to connect residents in need with faith-based institutions or organizations that can help them; develop an “App” for residents so they can easily find information and resources; and identify programs for philanthropic support.

“The lessons we learned at the municipal level, in Middletown, will help us formulate what we need to do at the county level,” Scharfenberger continued. “We all benefit when we lessen the need of individuals to depend on government for what can be obtained through the efforts of the private sector.”

According to Father Luigi of the Ecumenical Missionary Fathers located in St. Augustine’s Monastery in Belford, “Partnering with Middletown has allowed us to reach those most in need of our services and alert the residents that we are here and willing to help those who may be struggling with hunger or help the parents and families of those fighting opioid addiction.”

An advisory committee will be established and stakeholder meetings will take place in the next few months to jump start this initiative. 

Updates will be posted to the County’s website at www.visitmonmouth.com.