Faith Based Services and Initiatives
One area of Human Services that is under-discussed, when one considers its substantial impact, is that of the non-profit arena that falls under Faith Based organizations. Many people are driven by their faith to help their fellow human beings and regardless of your feelings about religion this is a very positive thing for our society. While it is true some organizations use Human Service initiatives as an opportunity to proselytize, the majority are actually simply doing “good works” without an attempt to pitch their religion to the recipients of these acts of good will. Non-profits that are organized around religions have become increasingly common over the years, especially due to some of the federal funding provided under the Bush administration. While faith based initiatives can be somewhat excluding to those outside their faith in terms of employment opportunities, this is not always the case. If you are a person of faith, you may feel called to act within your faith while also answering your own internal drive to help your fellow human beings. This can be the perfect marriage of faith and action allowing you to dive deeply into both your faith and also the practical realm of providing Human Services.
There are many kinds of Faith Based initiatives out there from Catholic Charities to the Salvation Army and Lutheran Social Services among others. It seems that after an initial outpouring of grant request efforts, that it is some of the older more established organizations that have netted the lion’s share of the Bush era funding efforts. The kinds of services that are performed vary greatly. There are organizations that provide shelter to the poor or victims of Domestic Violence for example. Some other efforts include help for those who are dealing with Substance Abuse and other addictions such as gambling. There are also a number of initiatives to help reduce the impact of hunger by feeding the homeless and other needy and vulnerable groups such as migrant workers. Such efforts are not limited to the United States either. A Bush era policy initiative that is controversial in some circles, The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief (or PEPFAR). This faith based program has spent billions on AIDS reduction and relief in Africa that has been so beneficial for children that Bush is regarded as a hero in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa1. There is a vast array of organizations that are faith based and dedicated to helping provide their fellow human beings with vital services.
While still controversial due to potential hiring practices of faith based organizations with some invoking separation of Church and State, Faith Based initiatives seem to be here to stay as so far little if any rollback has occurred under the Obama administration of the Bush era policies. There also can be little doubt that overall these programs do represent a substantial and noteworthy sub-sector of the Human Services field and that the work to help human beings is appreciated greatly by the recipients of this help. If you are a person of faith, you may find that working within a faith based organization is a perfect way to connect your work life, skillset, your ethics and your faith all in one package.