By James Harper
For Hometown News
DAYTONA BEACH - Coming up with a solution to the homeless problem in Volusia County was supposed to be the main topic of discussion at the annual meeting of an association of area churches Monday evening.
Volusia County Council members were invited to the annual F.A.I.T.H. Action Assembly and were asked to come up with a funding source to raise at least $950,000 to support the county's 10-year plan to end homelessness.
But first, the group acknowledged the hundreds of college students, Daytona Beach residents, members of Occupy Daytona and others supporting the Trayvon Martin movement who caught organizers of the assembly off guard as they marched to First Baptist Church Monday where the assembly was being held.
Seventeen-year-old Trayvon, who was unarmed and carrying a bag of Skittles candy and a can of iced tea, was killed February 26 in Sanford by a member of the gated community's neighborhood watch group.
The incident has galvanized the nation with charges of racial profiling because Martin was black and was dressed wearing a hooded jacket, which the shooter commented on during 911 calls.
Many of the protesters in Daytona Beach, who were black, white, young and old, wore jackets with hoods and carried bags of the candy and a can or bottle of iced tea.
Other marches and protests took place all over the country Monday, one month to the day of Martin's killings.
Organizers of the F.A.I.T.H. assembly did not alter their program, but several ministers did incorporate the issue in their remarks when it was their time to speak about the homeless issue.
Bethune-Cookman University chaplain, the Rev. Walter Monroe, was on the campus Monday as the students prepared to march down Mary McLeod-Bethune Boulevard to Ridgewood Avenue where First Baptist Church is located.
The Rev. Monroe gave the call to order during the F.A.I.T.H assembly and chose to recognize the students and the Trayvon Martin issue.
"No justice. No Peace. No Justice. No peace," he said. "Faith moves mountains. Faith moves mountains."
Dr. L. Ronald Durham, pastor of Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, helped organize a rally in Sanford March 22 supporting Trayvon and his family. It attracted thousands including Civil Rights giant Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III.
Dr. Durham addressed the students before they began their march to First Baptist.
"We don't want the march to end at the church," he said. "The Trayvon Martin incident that has galvanized you needs to be highlighted so this never happens again. It could have been one of you."
Dr. Durham's church is part of F.A.I.T.H.
"What F.A.I.T.H. does all year long is what your rally is about tonight," he said to the marchers. "Elected officials have come to realize F.A.I.T.H. does not go away. Justice does not have a price tag."
Addressing the homeless problem is not new to F.A.I.T.H. (which stands for or Fighting Against Injustice Toward Humanity).
The group was instrumental in getting county council members last December to fund Sentencing Alternatives for Volusia Enforcement, also known as the SAVE Docket. SAVE provides sentencing alternatives to paying fines for homeless individuals charged with minor offenses.
Deacon Charlie Welch, a member of Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, said F.A.I.T.H was able to "move a mountain" when they got support for SAVE.
"We were appalled at the difficulties facing people who lived on the streets," said Mr. Welch.
County Council members Joyce Cusack, Josh Wagner, Andy Kelly, Carl Persis and Frank Bruno all agreed that there is a need to identify a funding source to support the county's 10 year plan to end homelessness.
County Council At Large Member Cusack said the county should not be the only entity working on the problem.
"Everybody needs to be part of the solution," said Ms. Cusack.
Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno said he would work to find additional funds to address the problem.
Councilman Josh Wagner said all of the council members bring a different set of skills to tackle the problems they face.
County Council Members Joie Alexander and Pat Northey chose not to attend the event.
The council members agreed to report back to F.A.I.T.H. in May on their progress on coming up with a funding source.