BY JAMES HARPER
Dr. L. Ronald Durham hopes more than 2,000 residents will fill the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center on March 18 to help persuade city and county elected officials to do something about the homeless and jobless issue in the area.
Durham, pastor of Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, also is chairman of F.A.I.T.H. (Fighting Against Injustice Toward Harmony Organization).
F.A.I.T.H. is hosting its annual Action Assembly on Monday starting at 6:30 p.m. at the center, 698 W. International Speedway Blvd.
The inter-faith organization, made up of 32 church organizations in Volusia County, has been in existence for 12 years.
The Action Assembly is free and open to the public. Durham hopes more than just members of the organization will attend.
B-CU now a member
Durham said he is proud to announce that Bethune-Cookman University is now a member of F.A.I.T.H., and the school’s interim president, Dr. Edison Jackson, has pledged support.
F.A.I.T.H.’s accomplishments include the clean-up of drug hotspots, the re-establishment of a drug treatment program in the county jail, passing a local hiring ordinance at the county level to help local employers and employees. The organization also has a SAVE (Sentencing Alternatives for Volusia Enforcement) Docket program that helps those with legal problems who can’t afford to pay fines and other fees assessed by a judge in criminal cases.
Durham said homelessness and joblessness are the two issues of critical importance to the Volusia County community.
Shortage of beds for homeless
According to information provided by F.A.I.T.H., homelessness in Volusia County has increased by over 60 percent in the last five years with more than 2,000 homeless children attending the county’s schools.
F.A.I.T.H. Volunteer JoAnn Schafer of Ormond Beach said, “We must protect our most precious resource – our children.”
The organization’s research also found that there are only 21 emergency beds for single homeless people.
At the Action Assembly, F.A.I.T.H. will ask for commitments from members of the Volusia County Council to work with them on a comprehensive plan for a shelter that includes case management, intake centers, beds, food, and others.
Durham said the organization is hoping to set up a trust to help pay for a new shelter and other amenities.
A similar trust has been set up in South Florida funded by a tax, but Durham said F.A.I.TH. hopes to come up with another income source for the trust.
Help wanted with reaching jobless
Although Volusia County has services in place to help people not only look for work but get necessary training that will give them their best chance at finding good paying jobs, F.A.I.T.H. says few members of the community know about them.
“With more than 23,000 people unemployed in Volusia County, we cannot afford to have a workforce development agency that is not effectively connecting with the people in our community who need them,” cites a statement released by the organization.
During the Action Assembly, F.A.I.T.H. is going to ask the Center for Business Excellence, which runs the One-Stop Career Centers, to make services more accessible and recognizable to the people they are meant to serve and to promote themselves to the community at large.
Shanae’ M. Holman, one of the organizers of Monday’s event said as of March 7 only two of the seven Volusia County Council members had committed to attend – County Councilwoman At-Large Joyce Cusack and District 2 Councilman Josh Wagner.
Holman said Volusia County Chairman Jason Davis will be out of town but has agreed to participate by written response.
“F.A.I.T.H. leaders are still hoping that Pat Northey, Deb Denys, Doug Daniels, and Pat Patterson understand the importance of their presence and make the decision to attend,” Holman added.
For more information about this event, contact F.A.I.T.H. at 386-238-7060.