The Sylvia Thomas Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation devoted to serving the needs of adoptive and foster families in Hillsborough County, is getting creative this month to raise much-needed funds and items.
Founded in 2000 in honor of Sylvia Thomas, a champion for adoptive and foster families who is constantly working to improve the homelife of children, the center is located in Brandon and offers services free of charge to those in need.
In April 2000, Thomas, who made herself available to dependent and displaced children and their families to listen, support and assist with solving everyday challenges with children and the child welfare system, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Four of her colleagues and friends who were moved by her charitable works collaborated in July 2000 to honor her memory by forming a nonprofit agency to continue her work.
The center is able to operate free of charge by receiving through funding from the State of Florida, Eckerd Connects Community Alternative and the generosity of the community and individuals’ support.
“Our mission is to keep the ‘forever’ in forever families by providing adoptive and foster children and families the necessary tools and supports to enable them to bond and thrive,” said Mary Ann Kershaw, CEO of the Sylvia Thomas Center for Adoptive and Foster Families since October 2016.
Based on need, the center provides free in-home family counseling, comprehensive clinical case management, advocacy, information, referrals and psych education.
Kershaw and her team formed a partnership with Walmart so that the community can help the center continue to thrive as well.
“The Registry for Good is a Walmart initiative to strengthen communities at the national level,” Kershaw said. “Since 2015, Walmart has averaged more than $1.4 billion in annual donations each year to a variety of local causes and organizations.”
The registry, which can be found at by searching ‘Sylvia Thomas’ at www.walmart.com/registryforgood, contains consumable items such as water, construction paper, tablecloths, etc. that can be used directly for events and activities with the children, youth and families as well as gift cards that can be used to assist families on an emergency basis.
To learn more about the Sylvia Thomas Center, located at 500 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Brandon, visit www.sylviathomascenter.org.