Last fall, local law enforcement agencies, along with Mayor Ken Welch and the Chief Judge of the Florida Sixth Circuit Court, Honorable Anthony Rondolino, showed their support for the 15th annual Community Lawfest.
ST. PETERSBURG — Last fall, local law enforcement agencies, along with Mayor Ken Welch and the Chief Judge of the Florida Sixth Circuit Court, Honorable Anthony Rondolino, showed their support for the 15th annual Community Lawfest to celebrate and honor the legacy of its founder, Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter.
Lassiter founded the yearly workshop where people could obtain free legal advice. In 2002, she and former Mayor Bill Foster, who is an attorney, set up shop at Shirley’s Soul Food Restaurant, giving away legal advice with the purchase of breakfast.
The Community Lawfest event grew by leaps and bounds, with the last one she conducted in 2017 – the 14th annual — reaching more than 500 people. Lassiter was also the founder of the not-for-profit Success Unlimited and a 2017 St. Petersburg mayoral candidate.
For the 15th annual Community Lawfest, the St. Petersburg Branch of the NAACP took the reins. Promoting civil rights and social justice for all has always been more than a notion to the premier civil rights organization since its inception in 1909.
The St. Petersburg branch demonstrated its commitment to that vision when more than 150 people received legal services from 29 attorneys offering pro bono services. The attorneys provided answers and direction on pressing legal issues requiring expertise in criminal, family, civil and other fields of law.
Another group of participants who received an array of services to increase their successful re-entry into society was “returning citizens.” The services ranged from how to obtain housing to how to navigate the court system.
Participants also benefited from the outreach efforts of 26 social service providers in mental health, substance abuse, education, housing, workforce development and family support services, as well as advocacy groups for criminal justice reform.
Another vital piece of information was the introduction of the new suicide and crisis hotline number “988.” Participants were treated to a luncheon presentation from mental health clinicians of color to address present and unresolved childhood trauma.
Eventgoers enjoyed the opportunity to receive services, network and meet neighbors while enjoying the great food and the beautiful setting at The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, which was one of the sponsors.
Additional sponsors included the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, St. Petersburg Police Department, 211 Tampa Bay Cares, Community Development and Training Center, Fred G. Minnis Sr. Bar Association, Florida Justice Center and the Florida Restoration of Rights Coalition.
The St. Petersburg NAACP and their Criminal Justice Committee would like to thank the community and all participants for supporting the Nov. 12 event.