Around this time last year, I was not very knowledgeable on Faith in Place’s organization and even some of the information that I thought I knew was actually a little incorrect. The main reason I got involved with F.I.P. was because my friend, Celeste Flores, had recently been hired to work for F.I.P. as the outreach director in Lake County. The real change happened for me last year in November when she contacted me to see if I would attend their annual celebration and fundraising luncheon. Since my schedule was pretty flexible at that time, I accepted the invite despite the fact that I was not very well informed on F.I.P.
Prior to that day, I thought F.I.P. was associated strictly with Christian organizations and I wasn’t entirely sure what they did. Going to that luncheon helped to educate me on F.I.P. and the work they do. In actuality, the organization helps to bring together people of a variety of faiths with the common goal of protecting our Earth and its environment. It was really cool attending F.I.P.’s Green Team Summit in September and seeing first-hand such a broad range of faiths from Christian to Jewish to Muslim to Buddhist all in one place.
It’s interesting to hear the variety of work that F.I.P. does in an effort to protect our environment. Examples of the work they have done includes installing rain barrels, planting community gardens, and help houses of worship get solar panels. Their programs can be divided into four areas: energy and climate change, sustainable food and land use, water preservation, and advocacy. It was really great reading about how F.I.P. effected positive changes during 2017 in each of these areas of focus.
For energy and climate change, they helped to create the Nonprofit Green Lending Program. This allowed nonprofits, like houses of faith, to get low-interest loans to make suggested changes for greater energy efficiency. Also during 2017, they helped 4 faith communities to get solar panels up and running.
In the area of sustainable food and land use, they hosted winter farmers markets at 17 different houses of worship throughout Chicagoland. Additionally, they helped to make the farmers markets more accessible to some people as a result of receiving funding to match purchases of customers that use Link/SNAP benefits.
Programs that dealt with water preservation included the Eco-Ambassador youth program that consisted on 32 student participants this past year. This program taught them about a variety of environmental topics, including water preservation, and career paths. They learned about the issues through activities and field trips. Additionally in 2017, F.I.P. deployed and/or redeployed 155 rain barrels to houses of faith.
Finally, there is the work that F.I.P. has done with advocacy. Their mission in 2017 during when they went down to Springfield for their annual Advocacy Day was to inform their legislatures how important it is to create clean energy jobs. This was key in funds being kept for solar development and job training as part of the Future Energy Jobs Act. Also, they had meetings with State Treasurer Michael Frerichs to show their support fo the the previously mentioned Nonprofit Green Lending Program.
I felt like today was a good day to try to inform some new people about F.I.P. since it’s a pretty cool organization. Of course, I might be a little biased about this group since I have volunteered as a photographer for them on a few occasions over the last year. It’s been interesting seeing some other programs first-hand as a photographer for a winter farmers market, Advocacy Day, and the Green Team Summit. Then today, it all kind of came full circle with me as I volunteered at the annual celebration and fundraiser luncheon as a photographer this year.