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Westchester County Partnering with Religious Communities

by Jeff Coltin, Megan Connor
St. Paul's Church in Mt. Vernon

Anthony22/Wikimedia Commons

Initiative aims to connect low-income residents with services

Westchester County is partnering with its religious communities to bring services to low-income residents. The initiative aims to improve communication between county government and religious organizations.

County Executive Rob Astorino presented the partnership on Wednesday in White Plains. He said faith communities and the county share a goal.

"The one common thread that we all have is we're trying to help people.  And they're on the front lines.  They know the congregants and parishioners who are among the neediest."

Elliot Forchheimer, executive director of the Westchester Jewish Council said religious communities are a natural way to reach residents. 

"The idea here is understanding that so many people of all faiths connect to their communities via their faiths. It makes sense to connect to these people via their faith-based community."

Forchheimer said the initiative will help people sort through various county services.

The County has appointed Rose Boone to serve as liaison between the county and the clergy. Boone is Westchester's deputy social services commissioner for family investment.

Two Democratic legislators, Alfreda Williams and MaryJane Shimsky, responded and said the initiative is a "smokescreen" for Astorino's 2013 budget cuts to important programs and services.

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