LARGO – Last month, more than 150 gathered at Pathways Community Church in Largo for the Third Annual Faith-Based Symposium sponsored by FOCUS (Family Oriented Concept Unified to Serve) in partnership with the Juvenile Welfare Board and Florida Dream Center.
Adopting a theme of Family Restoration and Hope, the symposium was designed to inspire and connect places of faith with community agencies, groups, and individuals committed to strengthening Pinellas County children and families. Attendees heard of local efforts in place to address community problems such as human trafficking, addiction, and trauma. Plus, attendees learned of community-building strategies, revitalization efforts, and family strengthening resources available through the Juvenile Welfare Board and social service providers.
Pastor Bill Losasso, president of Pathways Community Church and Florida Dream Center, gave the welcome and introduced Zachary Gibson, Chief Child Advocate and Director of the Office of Adoption and Child Protection for the Executive Office of the Governor, who addressed guests with a message of family restoration and hope.
A powerful Call to Commitment was delivered by Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, who challenged the audience to “change your life from making a living to making a difference.”
The morning session wrapped up with a panel discussion featuring St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway; Family Promise Executive Director Deborah Nash; JWB Community Projects Manager Danielle Hintz and Pastor Martin Rainey from Faith Memorial Missionary Baptist Church.
In the afternoon, a series of workshops offered attendees the opportunity to increase their knowledge, build capacity and learn strategies for working with vulnerable populations.