Albany-- Some Southwest Georgia pastors are reaching beyond the pulpit--straight into community development. Millions of dollars in federal grant money is available to non-profit, faith-based initiatives. But, tapping into that money can be a challenge.
Keeping the lawn trimmed at Woodland Heights Apartments in East Albany is a matter of pride. Rev. Lorenzo Heard says,"It was a real big deal. There was a lot of fighting to stop this kind of project from happening."
This housing complex was one of the first faith-based initiatives in Albany. Reverend Lorenzo Heard, pastor at Greater Second Mount Olive Baptist Church, used federal grant money to build these attractive apartments in a run-down section of town--and the risky move paid off, "People have begun feeling much better about the area, have asked when are we going to do another housing development there isn't a week that somebody does not call trying to get into Woodland Heights."
"There are hundreds of millions of dollars across the spectrum that are available for competition for faith-based organizations." At this town hall meeting at Albany Tech today, Congressman Sanford Bishop taught other Southwest Georgia churches how to tap into that federal funding, "So at the end of the day they should know the who, what, how and be well prepared to carry forth, to carry out there mission."
Learning the how-to's will help other churches do what Lorenzo Heard did--create something good in their communities. Panelists from several federal agencies, including HUD, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Labor spoke at today's "Town Hall" meeting.