TAMPA-On May 7 & 8, 2007, faith and nonprofit organizations seeking to utilize federal resources to improve their communities gathered for a two day statewide conference at the Tampa Convention Center. Federal, state and local organizations, led by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), presented 52 workshops to the 600+ attendees.
Keynote speakers included AnnaMaria Farias, HUD's Acting Director of the Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives; Pam Iorio, Mayor of Tampa; Rick Baker, Mayor of St. Petersburg; Reverend Dr. Fred Lucas, President of the Faith Center for Community Development in New York City; and Reverend McKinley Young, Presiding Bishop, 11th District, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Jacksonville, Florida.
Prior to the conference, Ms. Farias commented "from the logic behind electronic grant applications, to securing federal funds, to the challenges of caring for the population with HIV/AIDS, HUD's statewide conference will offer very valuable information from federal, state and local organizations that serve the most frail in our communities." Participants' comments regarding general sessions and intensive workshops proved Ms. Farias' statement to be an accurate assessment.
Attendees received information from many major entities, including: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg; the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa; the counties of Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, and Polk; Freddie Mac; the United States Departments of HUD, Health and Human Services, Labor, Agriculture, and Internal Revenue; the Census Bureau; the Small Business Administration; the Centers for Disease Control; the University of South Florida the Florida Housing Finance Agency; and the State of Florida's Departments of Health, Homelessness, Education,and Community Affairs.
Reverend McKinley Young.
Fifty two (52) interactive educational sessions covered a broad range of housing and community issues, including: the revised E-Logic Model for federal grant applications; building economically strong communities; understanding the role of faith-based organizations in hurricane recovery; dealing with the growing issue of homelessness; the ongoing need for affordable housing; the HIV/AIDS challenge within minority populations; fair housing enforcement; and partnering with federal, state and local resource providers to promote healthy, vibrant and viable communities. Concurrently, HUD offered its two-day curriculum entitled "The Art and Science of Grant Writing Training".
A special note of thanks goes out to Catholic Charities, Diocese of St. Petersburg for organizing the registration process and the Polk County VISTA volunteers for their untiring efforts in support of the conference.