Lutz News-Lutz/Odessa-Oct. 8, 2014

Page 9

Free seminars about county services aim to educate, motivate residents By Michael Murillo

With so many different agencies providing services throughout Pasco County, figuring out exactly what each one offers can be confusing. But the Community Awareness Series at Pasco-Hernando State College’s Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch aims to make things easier to understand with free lectures that focus on different service providers. The six-part series began with a presentation by Pasco County Community Services on Sept. 5, and continued with the Florida Department of Health on Sept. 19. The next seminar will take place Oct. 10, focusing on the Sunrise Domestic and Sexual Violence Center, followed by the American Cancer Society on Oct. 24. Veterans Services Pasco County and the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County will round out the series in November. The series helps satisfy one of the college’s strategic goals of increasing awareness in the community, PHSC associate dean Sonia Rodriguez said. “Most institutions are microcosms of their environment, and there are a lot of agencies and information out there that people don’t know about,” she said. “Or they have a situation going on where they don’t know where to seek help or find an avenue in which to help someone else.” Rodriguez has been with the college for 20 years, and was involved with a similar program on their north campus in Brooksville.Attendees often are people who not only want to learn about the specific services each agency offers, she said, but also find out how they might be able to volunteer time or donate to their cause. The room is set up to hold 60 people, and it was around half-full for the first presentation. Rodriguez considers that a good start. She believes that more people will attend later events as word gets out, and as certain topics generate more interest. The second presentation attracted around 35 people. She picked the agencies with members of her staff, choosing the ones she thought would be of interest to the community. As the series progressed in Brooksville, different agencies would ask to be featured, providing more topics and covering a wider variety of services. The popularity grew until it became a weekly series, and Rodriguez hopes to see the Wiregrass Ranch campus offerings to eventually grow to that level.


Sonia Rodriguez, associate dean at PascoHernando State College, put together a series of free seminars providing information about community-based organizations and agencies.

While she wants to see as many people take advantage of the Community Awareness Series as possible, Rodriguez said the people who might utilize the services directly might not be the ones actually attending the seminars. While unwanted pregnancy and domestic violence issues exist in the county, for example, those topics are unlikely to draw the individuals involved with them. “The people who need it the most are the people that you probably can’t get to come to something,” Rodriguez said. Instead, individuals who know someone in need might be the ones in attendance. The college also encourages its faculty and students to attend, since they might interact with people who need those services.The knowledge they gain from the presentations could help them in assisting others. Each session lasts 90 minutes, with a 60minute presentation and a 30-minute question-and-answer session. Each agency decides what kind of seminar to give, and could include a PowerPoint presentation, or different agency members speaking on specific topics. Feedback has been positive so far, and Rodriguez hopes they’ll continue to be well received by the students and faculty, as well as the community in general. “Pasco-Hernando State College’s mission is to be a part of this community,” she said. Before we were a state college we were a community college, so community never leaves our mission.” Each seminar starts at 10 a.m., at the conference center in Building B.The Wiregrass Ranch campus is located at 2727 Mansfield Blvd., in Wesley Chapel. For more information about the Community Awareness Series, visit

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