Last Updated on April 9, 2004 by Paulette Brown-Hinds

Los Angeles

President George W. Bush, Jr. recently addressed more than 1,500 people at the White House Conference on faith-based and community initiatives at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California. Attendees of this 3-day conference included faith-based and community organizations, community leaders, elected officials and representatives from all over the Western United States, that provide services to their communities.

The White House Conference on faith-based and community initiatives, provides participants with information about the federal funding process, available funding opportunities, the requirements that come with the receipt of federal funds, and cutting-edge practices from other organizations that have been recipients of federal support through the faith-based and community initiative.

The White House hosted the conference with support from the Department of Justice, Agriculture, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Education and the Agency for International Development.

“We ought not to fear faith,” stated President George W. Bush. He continued, “We ought not to discriminate against faith-based programs. We ought to welcome what I call neighborhood healers in compassionate delivery of help so people can experience the greatness of our country. I like to say, government can pass out money, but it cannot put hope in people’s hearts, or purpose in people’s lives.”

One of the underlining themes of the conference was “Compassion in Action.” The president spoke with concern and commitment about helping and caring for the needy of our communities. He then recognized several individuals and organizations, in attendance, that are already putting compassion in action.

Students With A Tutor (S.W.A.T.) Youth Services, a community based organization out of Rialto, California was invited to become a part of the President’s Army of Compassion. S.W.A.T. Youth Services is looking forward to partnering with the White House to provide needed services in the areas of mentoring, tutoring and other areas aiding at-risk youth.

S.W.A.T. Executive Director/Teacher, Verlin L. Alsina, attended the conference, “I know that a quality after school program will meet many needs of the community. There is a lack of affordable, after school tutorial programs for school-aged children. This causes an absence of programs for the at-risk youth who most need the support. Thus causing an estimated five to seven million ‘latchkey children’ going home alone after school in the USA.

These children are finding ways to get in trouble between their release from school and their parent’s end of the workday. So, we’re excited to partner with the White House for the funding that will aid in meeting the needs of our communities youth. To see and hear our president taking a stand on how the federal government should interface with community and faith based agencies was a great motivator for those of us working in our communities.”