The mission of the Jacksonville Network for Strengthening Families is to provide training, services and support to Jacksonville families in an effort to increase prepared marriages, reduce divorce rates, and increase financial and emotional support of Jacksonville’s children.
Originally launched from the City of Jacksonville’s Mayor’s Office, the Network was then housed at FreshMinistries and now serves as a standalone non-profit under the leadership of Michelle Hughes.
The Network is a research based training and support services program. Dr. Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” has been customized exclusively for Jacksonville. 7 Habits of Successful Families in Jacksonville workshops provide an interactive learning experience that promotes introspection and personal empowerment.
The Network was conceived in 2002 by a group of community leaders convened by Brother Willie “Pete” Jackson. Fueled only by volunteers and passion, the group developed a “network” of community providers working together to strategically address the needs of Jacksonville’s high-risk, low-resource families. Robyn Cenizal, representing the City of Jacksonville, worked with Brother Jackson to develop a strategic plan and secure local funding in partnership with the Department of Children and Families. The plan included conducting a community needs assessment and developing a customized curriculum and network of resources to strengthen families and address barriers to success.
The Network was officially launched by the City of Jacksonville Mayor’s Office after receiving grant funding in the form of an 1115 Waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2005.
Under Pete’s leadership as the Mayor’s Chief Community Officer and with Robyn serving as the Executive Director, the Network expanded to provide training and referral services to over 4,000 families. Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Effective Families was customized to create the 7 Habits of Successful Families in Jacksonville curriculum. The unique workshops provided an interactive learning experience that promoted introspection and personal empowerment. Following the workshop, families had the opportunity to self-select from a list of referral services available to assist them in achieving the goals they set for their families. These services were provided through a network of over 50 partners offering an array of services.
Upon Robyn’s retirement from the City, the Network moved to FreshMinistries where Brother Pete served on the board. It fell under the leadership of Michelle Hughes, Director of Urban Initiatives and longtime member of the Network. Robyn continued to champion the Network securing local and federal funding to support the initiative.
Brother Pete Jackson passed away in 2017. We were all saddened by his loss. Perhaps it was the outpouring of love and appreciation witnessed at his funeral that compelled us to want to honor his legacy and reenergize the Network.