David Carter was the President of the Ministerial Alliance, a group of 12 churches (leaders included Bert Lewis and John Propst)that met monthly for meetings. At those meetings, churches were talking about how the homeless were going from church to church asking for food donations. So it was decided to “TEAM” together and each church collected food one month during the year and gave their food to the Tempe Community Action Agency for distribution there. Then the churches had a form that they gave out to people who came asking for food and they could take that over to the TCAA and receive authorization for food. TEAM was launched in 1983. It started out as just a Christian effort until 1984 when Rabbi Pinkwasser got involved and TEAM became Interfaith.
His story of TEAM follows:
I was not one of the founders of TEAM. The organization started about a year before I came on board. I know that Bert Lewis and John Propst were involved.
The purpose of the group was to stop the people coming through our community asking for assistance that really didn’t need it. They would go from one congregation to the next with a tale of woe and get money. It was a scam. The TEAM group started so that when a needy person came by, they only got a voucher that was redeemable at the Escalante Center (Tempe Community Action Agency). They got $4 per person for fast food, $10 for groceries and $10 per car load for gas. All was done with vouchers. They received no cash. The scammers realized that Tempe was not the community to come to if you were looking for money. You were only going to get paper.
The program was funded by an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. However, the attendees were all Christian and it was ecumenical, but not interfaith. This is where I came in. John Propst approached me and asked if I would attend. The Jews would make it interfaith. I consented and that is where I began.
The service was lovely and $400 was collected. When this money ran out in a month or two, we were all asked for voluntary contributions. The next Thanksgiving Service, I asked to do the offertory. I did a Yom Kippur Appeal. I got $1,400 and immediately was made president, Beth was the Secretary/Treasurer. After 2 years we did a north and south service, we collected $1,400 from the north and $1,100 from the south. This assured my presidency. I then got outside contributions from King of Glory Lutheran, who gave us $2,000 each year and $500 from the LDS Church. Incredible!!
Shortly after, I revamped the system as to not give out any vouchers, but to do food boxes. With 24 congregations we did 12 congregations doing a food give monthly, bringing in 30 boxes of food and $100 per congregation in cash and the same was done with homeless packages. We now had a budget that worked, rather than $400 (goyisha cup).
Today TEAM includes Muslim participation and the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service continues and the launching and support of I-HELP, 9/11 Services, The Annual Homeless Memorial Service and iMagine have been added to TEAM’s efforts. Individual congregations continue to do food drives and water drives for TCAA and the Salvation Army. There are dreams of offering more worship, education and service opportunities through TEAM.