The Let Your Light Shine Pasco 2016 Conference was a Bright Start to RenewPasco!

What a great time we had at Word of Life in Hudson on Saturday, November 5th, 2016 with Pasco County leaders attending from all walks of life within the community. Attendees enjoyed multiple keynote speakers and expert panel discussions about the role of business in our community in relation to public safety, addiction, and human trafficking. 

The morning opened with a wonderful breakfast, time of fellowship, and an inspiring invocation led by Dr. Mark O’Farrell of Trinity College of Florida. Peter O'Shea, emcee and comedian, did a terrific job at keeping attendees engaged during many sensitive discussion topics with his distinctive wit. The heartfelt welcome continued with Pastors Leonard Lord, Jerry Hekhuis, and Gabriel Papadopoulos spoke of the unity found within Pasco as they testified to the spiritual foundation of our county.

Richard W. Hayes, Board Member and Co-Founder of RenewPasco, walked us down memory lane, recalling the formation of RenewPasco and presented goals for future growth. He spoke of three men that would meet and pray about a common vision for their community. In a Denny’s, early 2012, Pastor Brian Brown (Life Point Church), Corporal Alan Wilkett (Pasco County Sheriff’s Office), and Richard W. Hayes (CEO of Digital Lightbridge) prayed for a unified community that reflects the love of Christ by addressing addiction, foster care, and human trafficking. The result was the humble start of RenewPasco as a platform to encourage unity and equip Christian businesses, churches, and ministry leaders in our community. RenewPasco’s vision is to see an active and effective network of 1,000 Christian leaders by 2020.

This vision is becoming realized with the help of community leaders like Bill Cronin (CEO of Pasco Economic Development Council). He shared his journey from Atlanta and described how his role in business, career, and family play closely in God's design for restoration of our community.

Breaks were filled with praise and worship by Sunny Fulton (Trinity College of Florida), George Boyd (Next Level Warrior Training), and Professor Leslie Riewald (Trinity College of Florida).

The first panel discussion moderated by Pete with business leaders Sherri Paules (CEO of National Association for Medical and Dental & Smile Faith Foundation), Jerry Hekhuis (Oasis Coffee Spot & The Good News Book Center), Greg Carr (Office Pride), and Mark Graham (Christian Business Men’s Connection) focused on “The Role of Employers in Recovery, Reunification, Restoration.” Each of these leaders reflected a heart for the Lord, their family, employees, and our community. Encouragement was felt by other business owners and ministry leaders about ways we can collaborate. They openly seek to use their marketplace to show the love of God through creative employment design. This design involves a compensation package including education opportunities, skills training, childcare, counseling, housing, and assistance with getting records expunged. The morning business discussions were closed out by Dr. Shannon Hogan (Professor of Organizational Development & Business at Trinity College of Florida) sharing how God has used education, business, and being a pastor as a platform in serving our community. He led a crowd stirring prayer as all the leaders knelt submitting their inability to achieve anything in their own power and knowledge.

Keynote speaker, Jim Howard (Trinity Security Allies) addressed safety and protection awareness. He presented ways we can be diligent within our surroundings, importance of preparedness, and planning. With his forty years of expertise in law enforcement, the application was brought to life with great reviews of home, business, and ministry centers.

Our break for lunch was a great time where business, community, church and government came together. Dr. Paula O'Neil (Pasco's Clerk of Court) was on hand to encourage and thank our attendees for coming together around some of our communities’ greatest issues and most sensitive topics.

The afternoon session began with thanks from Word of Life Director Rich Andrews and RenewPasco Director James Sutherlin.

The panel on “Addiction” included Michael Kirk (Executive Director of TN 24), Kristi Lefferts (Trinity Outreach of Tampa Bay), Tim Marshick (Somebody Cares of Tampa Bay), and Catt Raley (Sunrise Domestic & Sexual Violence Center) and was a great representation of unified services within our county. Sharing their individual testimonies and experiences with addiction transitioning and recognizing that brokenness is multidimensional gave a valuable insight to understanding the needs inside the community. Without being able to address the source of the addiction, many are unable to fully restore.

Corporal Alan Wilkett (Pasco County Sheriff’s Office) was a great asset as he sincerely communicated and educated the audience on human trafficking within our community, regionally, nationally, and globally. With the United States being the largest global consumer of the sex slavery, he opened our eyes to a war that is second financially, at thirty billion dollars, only to that of drugs and about the role and responsibility we all have as a community. Corporal Wilkett continued to address efforts being made on a local level, working as a community task force to attack the procurer, free the victim, and prosecute those that engage in this type of crime.

The panel on “Human Trafficking” led by Crista Hernandez (Loving You Where You Are At), Dan Claassen (West Florida Foster Care Services), Bill Cronin (RenewPasco), and Corporal Wilkett expanded on the stereotypes and connections of human trafficking within our community. They educated us on forms of human trafficking that are unrecognized, for instance the closed circle of sex trade among migrant workers and within foster care. The panel reinforced the circle of broken family, addiction, foster care, and predators preying on the less fortunate child, single mother, teenage girl, young boy, and young women. The panel touched on the epidemic of pornography that is recognized as equally addictive as cocaine and heroin. This causes desensitization and distorts God's design of love.

Bill Cronin closed with a commitment to unity, prayer, volunteer, mentor, employ, and give without defining the end result in our minds. If we are diligent in each opportunity to serve Him with our gift, He will renew Pasco County in ways we could never imagine.

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