Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Mount Airy's Neighborhood Interfaith Movement or NIM works to better the community by bringing together Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Unitarian and Muslim congregations to recognize issues and try to solve them.
Executive Director Rabbi George M. Stern is a Mount Airy native and has been with the group since 2002. "Our mission is to work with residents of the area and build a more compassionate society," said Stern, "The faith community has a role to play, we don't just preach."
The nonprofit, non-sectarian group began in 1969 as a coalition of congregations spanning from Germantown, Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill. Today the movement, located at 7047 Germantown Avenue, consists of fifty-three congregations.
"From the beginning, the approach was to focus on the broader interests of the community - to look at the bigger picture," said Stern, "When we started, there were a lot of issues of violence against the elderly and so we worked to reform Northwest Victim Services. The community needed better services for the victims of violence and their families."
When the state began to empty its mental institutions NIM did a study of the conditions of the homes these people were being sent to and were able to implement programs to change the conditions for these people. When there was a need to fix inadequate child care NIM started training programs for child care providers all over the city to supplement the basic child care licensing process.
"When we find a bad situation, we identify it and try to do something about it," said Stern, "I think diverse communities like Mount Airy are the strongest kind. People recognize the value of knowing people who are different from themselves and you get more ideas to make the area better."
NIM has established many programs and some of those programs continue to work independently. NIM started and spun off Northwest Meals on Wheels, Northwest Victim Services and the Central Germantown Council, which supports business development and job creation. NIM is also a founder of the Philadelphia Early Childhood Collaborative, a child care resource program, and once housed School Age Ministry, which provided assistance to congregation-based after school and summer camp programs.
"Our work is all over the city, not only within the neighborhood," Stern said.
There are 3 annual public events NIM sponsors including a children's Sabbath, the Martin Luther King Interfaith Celebration, and an assembly that honors those who have done work in the community.
"I know that we are a unique organization, there are only a handful of interfaith groups that tackle the systemic issues we do," said Stern, "we have a direct effect on neighborhoods."
Stern described the 40th Anniversary Mural, “Walking Together” on the side of the building as a beacon to the community. "We want to remind people that we are here to help."
By Meg Frankowski and Joshua Middleton
Team 24, Germantown and Mount Airy
Posted by Meg Frankowski at 12:57 AM