“Engaging Men, Advancing Women”, Phase II, Part 1: A recap of the Engaging Men Forum on “Identifying Solutions”

 From Orange County District 2 Commissioner Rod Love

Success. In one word, that is how I would describe last week’s forum on Engaging Men through “Identifying Solutions.” Of course, this forum would not have been a success without the following individuals: Pastor Richard E. King from St. James, A.M.E. Church, our moderator, Attorney Greg Jackson, Esq.; our speaker, Pastor Russ Beacham, and the amazing panelists: Attorney and Former Chief Judge Belvin Perry, Chief Judge Frederick J. Lauten from the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, Captain Tony Marlow from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Pastor David Berrios from ICP Orlando, and Stefan Davis from Evans High School. Additionally, I would also like to give a special thank to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs for giving her greetings on the importance of the discussions to be had at the event and offer encouragement, as well as Senator Gary Siplin and Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke for engaging in the conversation and attending. Furthermore, I would like to thank Dr. Randy Nelson and students from Bethune Cookman University, City of Apopka Commissioner Alexander Smith, and Ms. Curtesa Vanderpool from Evans High School for their support and partnerships for this initiative. Lastly, I would like to thank the attendees because, without your courage to engage with the panelists, the purpose of the forum would not have been fulfilled. Beginning with this week’s column, I will be doing a two-part series to cover each forum on “Engaging Men” and “Advancing Women”, both inspired by the original “Engaging Men, Advancing Women” Forum that took place in August.

District 2 Orange County Commissioner Rod Love

The forum featured discussions on various important topics including crime, jobs, personal responsibility, the importance of education and vocation and much more. What was of the particular importance of the audience that night was the relationship between law enforcement and citizens. Many of the questions posed on this topic were in regard to resources and how to better train/educate officers and citizens to improve these relationships in the community. Graduate students from Bethune Cookman University took on the role as scribers in recording feedback from the participating audience to utilize in developing a problem and solutions metric to be published as a community guide to addressing community issues.

The youngest panelist, Mr. Stefan Davis, a Senior at Evans High School, shared his amazing strength, optimism and leadership qualities through his story of overcoming obstacles. Captain Tony Marlow had been given several challenging questions, each of which he had done an excellent job in answering while expressing both his and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office’s compassion in helping the community. Pastor David Berrios expressed to the audience that without the guidance of Christ in our lives, we will continue to face the very challenges being discussed. Chief Judge Lauten, who is handling high-profile cases in Orange County, showed the audience the consequences of what could happen if they did not make their personal responsibility a priority. Attorney and Former Chief Judge Belvin Perry offered his invaluable perspective on the panel. Lastly, Pastor Russ Beacham expressed the importance of understanding that all men respond to similar experiences in different ways, while making the message relevant and applicable to everyone in the audience.

While the “Engaging Men” Forum has concluded, the conversations, however, have not: We must continue to ask questions, have these conversations, and find solutions. Residents who would like to see the video and the program from the forum can go onto my Facebook page: Orange County District 2 Commissioner.

This week, the ladies get their turn to engage in conversations on advancing women at the Advancing Women Forum on “Identifying Solutions” on Thursday. Please be sure to stay tuned for a recap of the event in next week’s column. Residents can also find the program and more on my Facebook page.

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