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Community Turns Out to Support Playground Project

An afternoon barbecue raised money to build a playground for children whose visits with their parents are overseen by the nonprofit agency Family Partnerships.

What do miniature horses, llamas, lawyers, community members and a clown have in common?

No, this isn't the start of a joke.

All were in attendance at the If You Build it ... You Build Families playground fundraiser Aug. 11 at New Port Richey's Forest Glen Lodge.

The fundraiser was staged to raise money to ensure that Family Partnerships has access to the money needed to create a playground for children whose visits with their parents are overseen by the nonprofit agency. The idea is to create an atmosphere that’s more child-friendly for families that are dealing with separation due to divorce, drug abuse and other circumstances.

“Beyond this event helping at-risk children reconnecting with their parents in a safe and encouraging environment at Family Partnerships, the event is going to be a great time for children,” said Jeremy T. Simons, an event organizer, local attorney and Patch columnist.

Forest Glen Lodge, 7435 Plathe Road, played host to the fundraiser and is a main sponsor for the playground project.

Family Partnerships' West Pasco visitation center is at the Gulf Coast Worship Center. That is where the playground will eventually be built.

“Everyone is making sure we place the children first in the same way Family Partnerships does," Simons said.

The nonprofit Family Partnerships provides one of Pasco's only supervised visitation centers and runs under a contract with Eckerd Community Alternatives, Simons said. Another visitation center in Dade City handles only domestic violence cases, he added.

In addition to the supervised visits, Family Partnerships has drug testing and classes in parenting skills that include showing the danger of shaking babies. The organization also uses dolls that mimic a baby’s actions and needs to teach parents how to deal with a real infant.

The goal is to teach the parents how to care for their children and move to unsupervised visits and ultimately regain custody, Simons said.

To find out more about the playground project or to make a donation, visit Family Partnerships online.

Did you go to the fundraiser? Add your photos to the gallery.

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