DCF presents the 2016 Champions of Hope Award to Bethel Missionary Baptist Church




Special to the Outlook

Last week, the Florida Department of Children and Families, (DCF) Secretary Mike Carroll addressed a statewide faith-based network of more than five-hundred faith leaders in Orlando at the 2016 Florida Faith Symposium. The event was hosted by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice in partnership with the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council. The symposium’s purpose is to develop ways that the faith community can help support and assist Florida’s children and families and help put them on a path of prosperity. “This conference can be a turning point toward a brighter future for another Florida child. Every child deserves the chance to succeed – and there are thousands of Florida children waiting for that chance,” said Secretary Mike Carroll.

DCF awarded the 2016 Champions of Hope Award to Bethel Missionary Baptist Church of Tallahassee for the great work it does alongside the agency.

The partnership includes foster care, affordable housing, substance abuse and mental health, economic development, and its most recent ministry Ready4Work. Tallahassee Re-entry program is designed to help ex-felons assimilate back into the community. William Daiuto, DCF’s regional director and Pat Smith, Chair of the Florida Faith-Based Advisory Council presented the award to the Rev. R.B. Holmes, Jr., on Thursday.

Rev. R.B. Holmes, Jr., who also served as keynote speaker, issued a call to the faith community in his powerful message. Reading from the book of Micah, he encouraged attendees to do justly and, love mercifully, with abounding grace. His topic “It Does Matter, a Call to the Faith Community,” Rev.Holmes asked faith leaders to continue to encourage their congregations to help this vulnerable population of the least, the lost and most times the last, to do more to help provide needed services and support to Florida’s at-risk youth and struggling families.

The Champions of Hope Award was created four years ago, by the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council (FBCB) to recognize outstanding organizations throughout the state that work with children, youth, families, and communities. The Advisory Council received a total of 18 nominations from around the state. Nominations were reviewed and judged based on the following criteria:

How the organization’s project or initiative aligns to the Agency’s mission, goals and guiding principles. As well as, how the organization’s project or initiative has impacted the outcomes serving Florida’s families in need, at-risk youth, and children in care.

Additionally, the symposium offered a plethora of networking opportunities and workshops focused on enhancing faith and community-based collaboration and coordination to build stronger communities and families. Other speakers included Deputy Secretary, Timothy Niermann, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and Pastor Paula White. The international evangelist reminded attendees they are game changers, especially those who have dedicated their careers to working with Florida’s children and families. Jonathan Evans, former NFL football player stole the show as the keynote speaker on opening day Wednesday. Jonathan talked about impact and asked attendees who have they impacted in a positive way. Then on Thursday, a youth empowerment panel facilitated by child advocate Tanya Wilkins closed the conference. It featured young adults who shared real-life past experiences, while in the DCF and DJJ system. The Florida Faith Symposium is in its seventh year.

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