By Tamas Mondovics

In an effort to help local community leaders improve their leadership skills to keep their neighborhoods and communities more attractive, safe, friendly and sustainable, Hillsborough County is hosting its annual Neighborhoods Conference with a special program focusing on young people ages 12 to 18.

This year’s conference is scheduled for Saturday, July 23, from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Tampa East Hotel at 10221 Princess Palm Ave. in Tampa.

Each year, the free event, which requires attendees to register in advance, welcomes hundreds of guests and includes a continental breakfast, giveaways and access to all exhibits. The event draws a large crowd as it features more than a dozen valuable workshops, as well as access to the Neighborhood Recognition Awards luncheon.

Some workshops include: Code enforcement questions and answers; Recruiting and engaging volunteers; Updates on legal requirements and accounting management for associations, Grant writing and more.

This year, special attention is given to the younger members of the community, through the efforts of the Hillsborough County Office of Neighborhood Relations, which has partnered with the Hillsborough County Youth Leadership Council.

“This year’s event is a conference within the conference as topics of interest to our young, future leaders, including money management, social media, career planning, computer literacy, bullying and anger management, and team building will be an important part of the conference,” said event coordinator Wand Sloan, who added that to encourage teens to take an interest in their community, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County has funded a $2,000 award toward a community improvement service project, the winner of which will be announced at the Neighborhoods Conference.

Sloan said also new this year is a Community Conversation workshop that is open to all conference attendees, including the teens to offer opportunities to exchange ideas and information about shared community concerns.

For more info or to register for the 2016 Neighborhoods Conference and Youth Conference, call 272-5860, or visit For more info and to apply for the 2016 Youth Community Service Project funding, visit or email

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