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Mayor Keller Highlights Impact of Successful Partnerships at Faith Leaders Breakfast

Outlines goals for working with faith community moving into 2020.

January 8, 2020

Today, Mayor Keller joined the city’s faith leaders to highlight some of the successes that resulted from One Albuquerque partnerships with communities of faith in our city, and outlined ways the community can continue to make a difference in 2020. Key focus areas included supporting refugee families, combating homelessness, keeping our families safe, and providing for our youth.

“Our faiths guide us to help others, no matter where you’re from, the color of your skin, or who you love. We have made great strides offering basic services to people in need, expanding services to our homeless population, and helping travelers in need of asylum,” said Mayor Keller. “There is always more to be done, but I know one thing for certain, there is far more that unites us than divides us and it will continue to take all of us working together to tackle our city’s most pressing challenges.”

The emcee for the event was Pastor Nate Heitzig of Calvary Church Albuquerque. In his opening remarks, Pastor Heitzig said, “It seems that everyone in our day and age wants to focus on what divides us, and there is a lot that divides us; politics, religion, race, sexuality, gender. But there is also a lot that unites us; we are Americans, we are Burqueños, we love our families, we love our neighborhoods, we love our city, and we are supposed to love one another. There is a lot we can all disagree on, but one thing we can all agree on is that we want Albuquerque to be a better place to live for everyone.  We can all agree that we can do more for our city if we are united than if we are divided,” said Pastor Nate Heitzig, Calvary Church.

First Lady Elizabeth Kistin Keller said, “For generations faith communities in Albuquerque have collaborated to make this city a better place. It is a joy to see that collaboration continue in so many ways today, and an honor to be working together for a safe, inclusive, innovative city that works for all.”

Mayor Keller noted some successes that were made possible by the City partnering with the faith community. They included:

  • Bringing the Convoy of Hope event to Albuquerque for the past two years to offer groceries, medical care, clothing and services free of charge, no questions asked.
  • Offering weekend meals at the Westside Shelter.
  • Providing help to those seeking asylum as they travel through Albuquerque.
  • Inviting faith organizations to offer parenting classes, financial literacy training and more through the City’s community centers.

Mayor Keller also highlighted efforts the City is undertaking for the future, including:

  • Building the new Gateway Center to addressing the ongoing issue of homelessness in Albuquerque;
  • Finding new ways to keep youth safe and engaged when they are not in school; and
  • Adding additional officers and engage them in the community.

Other speakers included:

  • Director Michelle Melendez, CABQ Office of Equity & Inclusion; Bishop Michael Hunn, Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande; and Pastor Joe Britton, St. Michael's & All Angels Episcopal Church talking about Supporting Refugee Families.
  • Director Carol Pierce, CABQ Family and Community Services; and Pastor Richard Mansfield & Pastor Chuck Aragon, God's Warehouse talking about Combating Homelessness.
  • Deputy Chief Elizabeth Armijo, Albuquerque Police Department and Pastor Donna Davis, Grant Chapel A.M.E Church talking about Keeping Our Families Safe.
  • Cristin Chavez Smith, CABQ Family and Community Services and Pastor John Jones, Lifequest talking about Providing for our Youth.

“It was a privilege to gather today with faith leaders from across our city with Mayor and First Lady Keller at the Albuquerque Convention Center. It was amazing to hear testimonies of how the city and faith community have partnered over the past two years to serve the homeless, hungry children, at-risk youth, asylum seekers and refugees. The City of Albuquerque, under Mayor Keller’s leader, is leading the way for our nation by creating a successful model of collaboration and partnership between city government and the faith community,” said Reverend Brian Alarid, President, America Prays.