The Jefferson County Department of Human Services will soon host its third Power of Partnership Conference, which brings together representatives of churches, government, nonprofits and businesses to address issues throughout the county.
The conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, at WaterStone Community Church, 5890 S. Alkire St.
Susan Franklin, program manager for Power of Partnership, said the conference is open to “really anybody who has a passion to help out the community together so that we can talk about what are the issues in the community and how can we address them.”
This is the third conference, which is held every other year. Previous conferences were held in 2009 and 2011.
The Human Services Department is doing more partnering with the faith-based community, said Franklin.
Franklin said representatives of the groups meet every other month to talk about partnerships. One example is Kids Night Out, when local churches open their doors and provide pizza, entertainment and respite care for foster and adoptive parents.
“We want to be able to support our adoptive parents and foster parents as much as possible,” Franklin said.
Another effort is the Stocking Project, which takes place before Christmas and gives filled stockings to seniors and people with disabilities who may not have a lot of support. Other projects include Mean Street Ministries, which develops transformational housing in Jefferson County.
“Jefferson County has very, very few shelter beds, and so oftentimes people are needing to go into Denver. And with Denver’s shelters, you have to stand in line in the morning and you have a lottery number, and it’s very difficult to get into the shelters because there are so many people who are homeless,” Franklin said. “So we’re trying to develop more housing, everything from emergency shelter to what we’re calling severe weather shelter.”
Franklin said the county is working with area churches to open their doors during cold weather to offer shelter to people who might otherwise be on the streets.
This year’s conference will focus on six areas, including housing, education, family, building communities, hunger/poverty and special populations. The conference will include break-out sessions, exhibit tables and will also provide breakfast and lunch, networking and materials.
“It’s just a great way for the community to come together and see how everyone can work together. Because we know that there’s duplication in our services, and we also know there are gaps,” Franklin said.
Past conferences drew 200 to 300 participants, Franklin said.
In 2011, the excess money generated from the conference was given to the Mountain Resource Center in Conifer. This year’s conference will benefit Mean Street Ministries.
Franklin said she has heard from concerned residents who fear that the county partnering with faith organizations is a violation of the separation of church and state.
“My opinion is, we are both trying to help the community and we may do it in different ways, but we are both out there working in the community,” Franklin said.
Registration costs $40. Register online or visit www.jeffcopop.org for more information. All proceeds from the conference will benefit Mean Street Ministries and a new housing project in Jefferson County. At the conference, diapers and canned food will be accepted to benefit those in need.
Chris Ferguson is a news editor for Evergreen Newspapers. E-mail story ideas to chris@evergreenco