Staff of the South County Family Support & Resource Center (FSRC) celebrated their grand opening at their new location. (L-R) Luanne Panacek, PH.D., Children’s Board of Hillsborough County CEO, Pete Edwards, board member of the Children’s Board, Maria Negron, FSRC director, Sheila Lopez, Catholic Charities COO, and Abby Evert, director of Family Support Services for Catholic Charities, cut the ribbon at the beautiful new center.

Who says you can’t get anything for free? Staff of the South County Family Support & Resource Center wants you to know that you can.
The South County Family Support & Resource Center hosted its grand opening celebration in September at its new location in the Sun Point Shopping Center at 3030 E. College Ave. in Ruskin.
This is one of five centers in Hillsborough County, and this new 2,500-sq.-ft. center offers all services to individuals and families free of charge. Some of these services include the use of computers, computer classes, parenting classes, first aid classes and CPR training and certification. The center boasts of a new computer lab and also includes the use of a fax machine, telephone and photocopier. In addition, there is a space large enough to host community meetings and a fun and colorful rainforest-themed children’s playroom.
“Our center focuses on three main services, including self-sufficiency, child development and health and safety,” said Mary Scourtes, community liaison for the Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County. “We are so proud of our new center, and we really want to meet the needs of the community by finding out what additional services people would like to see.”
In addition to training and support services, the center also provides counseling services.
“Community input is so important to us,” said Scourtes. 
In 2007, the center served approximately 2,000 people. This year the number is almost at 4,000.  “The services and programs provided at each of the Family Support & Resource Centers are driven by input from participating families, who are part of a Family Community Advisory Council (FCAC). Needs are assessed, ideas are brainstormed, priorities are set and plans are developed. We work with staff and community partners; the FCAC plays a key role in the success of meeting the diverse needs of families.”
 “The center is open to anyone that resides in Hillsborough County,” Scourtes added. There are no criteria for eligibility to participate, thanks to funding from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County and Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Catholic Charities, Diocese of St. Petersburg, administered by the Healthy Start Coalition of Hillsborough County.
The South County Family Support & Resource Center is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The center closes on Mondays from 3 -4:30 p.m. for staff meetings.
A new children’s arts and craft class  recently formed at the center. Check its calendar for times of all programs, classes and special events at or call 641-5600.

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.