Pinellas County faith leaders tackle youth crime

October 23, 2017. WTSP.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — About 500 people, members of churches or temples in Pinellas County, met on Monday to take on a vital new mission: “Youth Concerns.”

The meeting by Faith and Action for Strength Together comes after eight teens died in stolen cars within the past two years, a timeframe in which 800 teenagers were arrested for stealing cars.

“We’re all concerned about this issue,” Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Clark Hazley said. “It’s sad to see young people dying when it could have been prevented.”

Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

October 23, 2017. Tampa Bay Times.

ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay’s largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

Hundreds of members of Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST) voted overwhelmingly Monday night to make “youth concerns,” including crime, their greatest worry in the community.

The organization, made up of several local congregations, has advocated for juvenile diversion programs before. But Pinellas County’s teen car theft epidemic, religious leaders said, has left them more worried now than ever.

Spiritual Shenanigans: When Christians (and people of other faiths) actually act the way Jesus suggested, here’s what happens

August 6, 2017. CLTampa.com

The desire to bring about change is perhaps greater this year than it has been in decades in this country.  But finding ways to make a positive difference can be difficult. For some religious residents of Pinellas County, banding together has been a key to getting their voices heard to meet the needs of the community through the organization FAST (Faith and Action for Strength Together). 3,000 diverse members of FAST came together most recently on April 24 in Tropicana Field to meet with local politicians, including St. Pete’s mayor, Rick Kriseman, and ask for action on three chosen issues in an annual event they call the Nehemiah Action Assembly.  

FAST lobbies for dedicated affordable housing money

June 5, 2017. Tampa Bay Newspapers.

CLEARWATER – Several members of Faith and Action for Strength Together spoke to Pinellas County Commissioners May 23 about the critical need for affordable housing.

The faith-based organization made up of 40 local church congregations, better known as FAST, has long urged the commission to spend more money to increase the county’s inventory of affordable housing. The group’s efforts have been fruitful in past years with the commission agreeing to place millions of dollars from Penny for Pinellas in an affordable housing land assembly fund. Unfortunately, not all the money pledged made it into that fund thanks to the economic downturn and budget cuts.