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Activists to reach out to ministers

Faith-based groups will be asked to help at-risk kids.

Published May 6, 2007


A group of community activists will send out a call for help from area ministers for ideas and the leadership to help at-risk kids in mid Pinellas.

The problems presented by kids who drop out of school, get into legal trouble, take drugs or who are otherwise lost are getting worse, said Ray Neri, a member of the Mid-County Community Council. Council members are appointed by and report to the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board.

"It seems like the answer has to be human involvement, " Neri said Friday. "Money's not going to take the place of that."

The council wants to get faith-based groups involved for several reasons, including their organization, their contact with and awareness of what's happening in the community, their expertise, and the ideas they may come up with.

Neri and others met Friday with the Rev. Martin Rainey, the retired pastor of Faith Memorial Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, to get some tips on how to encourage ministers and others to become involved. Rainey, who serves on the JWB's South County Community Council, spearheaded a drive to organize faith-based groups in the Childs Park area.

The result is a mentoring program to improve literacy that, if successful, will serve as a model for similar programs across Pinellas.

"We know it's going to be successful because we've got the players involved, " Rainey said. "It can't fail."

The key to getting ministers involved, Rainey said, is to listen to them. They know the problems, he said, and do not need to hear statistics. The ministers need to be able to offer ideas and solutions and know they will be heard, he said.

The ministers must also be asked if they'll get involved, he said. That's how it worked with the Childs Park program.

"They got enthusiastic about it, " Rainey said.

The first step, Neri said, is to mail letters to all churches and other faith-based groups in mid Pinellas. Then comes the legwork in directly approaching ministers and others asking if they will come to a meeting.

Fast Facts:


Help for at-risk kids

The Mid-County Community Council is looking for faith-based groups to help develop programs to aid at-risk kids. The first meeting will be 6 p.m. June 7 at the Juvenile Welfare Board, 6698 68th Ave. N, Pinellas Park. The group is also looking for members to serve on the council, which meets the first Thursday of each month. The council members do not have to belong to a faith-based group. For information about either, call Yaridis Garcia, JWB senior planner, at 547-5600.

By the numbers

17 the number of ZIP codes covered by the Mid-Pinellas Community Council. Those ZIP codes include the unincorporated Lealman area, Pinellas Park, Kenneth City, Seminole, unincorporated Seminole, the Ridgecrest and High Point areas, Largo, Indian Shores, Belleair Beach and St. Pete Beach.

30 the percentage of teen births in Pinellas County that occur in mid Pinellas

21 the percentage of families in mid Pinellas with incomes less than $25, 000

8 the number of policing agencies that cover various sections of mid Pinellas

48, 315 the number of students enrolled in mid-county schools

[Last modified May 5, 2007, 18:43:31]

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