A house in the neighborhood was becoming an eye-sore. One junk car sat in the front, another in the back, and trash and weeds ran rampant. So a neighbor called Bob Frie.

"It looks terrible," the man told Frie, a friend who is also the mayor of Arvada, Colorado. He thought Frie might be able to help. He was right. The mayor knew the first step to initiate a response was to call code enforcement, and that's what he did.

But something didn't feel quite right to Frie. And that feeling stayed with him a few months later, in January 2009, as he drove with his wife, Candy, to a meeting convened by a group of local pastors and church leaders. The agenda for their time together was built around one question: If you could eradicate one problem in our community today, what would it be?

There was no shortage of ideas. Arvada, population 106,000 and located just 10 miles northwest of downtown Denver, enjoys good schools, clean neighborhoods and parks, and civic pride, but it suffers from its share of ...

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