In 1987 a group of interfaith religious leaders came together to do something about the growing pressures on Arizona families. They knew that tackling injustice would take active and informed people, working together across lines of religion, race, and culture. They invited Ernesto Cortes Jr., an Industrial Areas Foundation Organizer, to help the form a community organization for social justice in Metro Phoenix.
By the spring of 1990, the first member institutions (Sts Simon & Jude, Franciscan Renewal Center, San Martin de Porres, Shepherd of the Hills UCC, Dayspring UMC, St Francis Xavier, Most Holy Trinity, Our Lady of Guadalupe, All Saints Newman Center, St Vincent de Paul, Temple Solel) came together as the Valley Interfaith Project. VIPs first Action Agenda dealt with homelessness, education, youth issues, healthcare, and our environment.
VIP was off to a great start. At our Leaders Convocation in 1991, 1300 VIP leaders asked Governor Symington to support the VIP Action Agenda. A year later, the Governor signed a bill that VIP moved through the legislature, providing $1 million for youth jobs.
It took hundreds of one-to-one conversations, house meetings, training sessions, research meetings with public officials, and finally a large public Action – to get the Governor to sign this bill.
As the Governor made a public promise, VIP also made commitments: faithful citizenship, political will, and hard work – that’s what it takes to make change happen.