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Meeting opens community connections

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Posted: Saturday, January 22, 2011 2:00 pm

Sheila Coonen and Terri Kimble believe there should be more lines of communication between the faith and community leaders of Ahwatukee Foothills.

To help facilitate it, they started a movement to bring those leaders together. Once a month, representatives from local churches, homeowners associations, outreach programs, businesses and more get together to discuss the current needs in the Ahwatukee Foothills community.

Ten months ago, Coonen, executive director of Connecting to Serve, and Kimble, Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce president, had their first meeting, which five pastors from local churches attended to talk about the pressing issues, including how to work together to benefit the needy.

"We are a faith- and community-based service group that is learning how to work together," Kimble said.

Since that first meeting, the group has expanded outside faith-based organizations, and the relationships that are being developed are a bright sign for the future, Coonen said.

"When you have this many people talking after a meeting, you know it has been a successful meeting," she said.

About 30 people attended the meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18 and discussed the topic of "Neighborhood Revitalization." Two Phoenix police officers and representatives from the Phoenix Parks Department and Neighborhood Services Department came to talk about the issue of graffiti.

They discussed how to report graffiti (if in progress call 911, if not, call (602) 262-6151), how long it should take to remove it and how local groups, such as Boy Scouts and service organizations should contact the Parks Department if they need a project to work on.

Another topic of the meeting was solicitors and what can and should be done about them. There were two reported incidents of employees of a roofing company entering a person's home and refusing to leave.

"If you feel threatened by a solicitor, tell them you are going to call the police," Community Action Officer Mayra Hawkins said. "If you can get the name of the company or the group, please call me, and we will look into it."

The topic next month will focus on getting the churches of Ahwatukee Foothills to each pick a day out of the month during which they open their doors to homeless people.

"We have about 25 churches in the area and if everyone did it for a day or two out of the month, then (homeless people) would always have a place to go," Coonen said.

To sign up to receive future e-mails about meeting times and places, e-mail Sheila Coonen at, or call (602) 541-7440.

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