A word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life. A word of encouragement from a spouse can save a marriage. A word of encouragement from a leader can inspire a person to reach her potential.
–John C. Maxwell

About Friends of Children

Friends of Children of North Central Florida is a nonprofit  501c3 organization that raises funds to establish a local campus of the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes to serve families in North Central Florida.

Friends of Children Board of Directors:
• Ron Locke, President, Gainesville
• Bobby Davis, Vice- President, Worthington  Springs
• Mary Lynne Moore, Secretary, Gainesville
• Bill Cellon, Treasurer, Gainesville
• Ester Tibbs, Gainesville
• Tonya Blackman, McIntosh
• Faye D. Zuidema, Alachua
• Donna Jordan, Gainesville

Ron Locke is a founding member of the Friends of Children, Inc. and its current board President. He is a 28 year employee with Springhill Investments, a company with commercial property holdings. Ron and his wife Carol have served as foster parents for over 30 years, first with the Department of Children and Families and now with Partnership for Strong families. Ron and Carol have twice been recognized as Foster Parents of the Year and Carol was recognized by the Gainesville Sun as one of their Moms of the Year. Ron is actively involved with the local Foster Parents Association serving in many capacities. He is currently Chairman of the One More Child Foundation, Chairman of the
Program Committee of the Florida Baptist Children’s Home, and is a member of the Executive Board for the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes. He is a member of Westside Baptist Church. Most importantly, Ron is the proud dad of eight children.

Vice President
Bobby Davis is a retired Department of Health employee who served the agency for 37 years. He continues to volunteer with the Department once a week. He is the North Central Florida representative on the statewide HIV AIDS Advisory Group. He is a member of Sardis Baptist Church in Worthington Springs where he sings in the choir, serves on the Building and Grounds Committee, Cooking Committee, and Office Committee. Bobby jokes that he is genetically predisposed to fostering as his maternal grandmother, mother, and he and his wife have all served as foster parents.

Immediate Past President
Denny George is an Account Executive with Duke Energy, serving their largest and most complicated customers. He was previously employed as a Director with Florida Power and light and developed Power Plants across the U.S.
Denny is actively involved with the Levy County Schools Foundation, past President and board member; the Gilchrist County Education Foundation, board member; Chiefland Chamber of Commerce, board member; Dixie County Chamber of Commerce, member; Nature Coast Economic Development Council, board member and Vice-chair. Denny is a member of Trenton Baptist Church where he serves as choir director. In his free time he enjoys flying (real planes and remote controlled) exercising, and working in his yard.

Bill Cellon is a retired insurance professional, having worked for Nationwide Insurance for 27 years. Bill is a former president of the North Central Florida Chapter of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters. He has held leadership positions with various youth related organizations including the Alachua County Youth Fair and Livestock Show, Friends of 4-H and FFA, Santa Fe High School Football Booster Club and the Alachua Elementary School Advisory Council. Bill is a fifth generation native of Alachua County. He and his wife Gaye have two sons and six grandchildren. They are active members of Westside Baptist Church. Bill enjoys camping, traveling, gardening, family activities, Florida history and following Gator sports.

Mary Lynne Moore is a founding member of the Friends of Children. She has served as a minister for 26 years and for the past 12 years has served as the Director of the International Learning Center at Parkview Baptist Church in Gainesville, FL. Mary Lynne met her husband, Dave, at Parkview
when she first came to serve as the Youth and Family Minister. She previously taught workshops in Marriage Enrichment and Senior Adult Ministries for the Florida Baptist State Convention and she has served several times as an interim church administrator. Mary Lynne became very interested in the well being of young people when she served an internship at the Virginia Baptist Children’s Home in 1976. This desire that all children have a safe home transitioned with her to North Florida. She is pleased that the Cellon-Thomas campus provides sibling groups a place to live together.

Board Members
Tanya Blackman is employed by MyOffice Products, a division of High Touch Business Service Solutions. She has over 35 years experience in the Office supply/furniture supply industry. She is the Product and Sales Consultant for major commercial businesses and the federal government in North Central Florida and throughout Georgia. Tonya attends First Baptist Church of McIntosh where she serves as treasurer of the Women’s Mission Union, and is a member of the Steward and Finance Committee. Tonya enjoys running, golf, and all college
sports, especially FSU sports.

Donna Jordan retired from the Department of Children and Families after 35 years of service in various capacities. At the time of her retirement she was the Client Relations Coordinator for a 13 county service area. Two years after retiring Donna decided she needed more to do so she went to work for the North Central Florida Baptist Association as Office Manager. She is a member of the First Baptist Church of Waldo and is active on several church committees. She enjoys reading, going to the beach, trips to Kentucky, spending time with family and friends and enjoying her seven wonderful grandchildren.

Ester Tibbs is a former Administrator with the Department of Children and Families where she served in various roles during a 35 year career. She serves on a number of non profit boards including Oak Hammock at the University of Florida, the Community Foundation of North Central Florida, and Partnership for Strong Families. She is also a member of the Children’s Services Advisory Board, Altrusa International, United Way Community Investment Council, and the Women’s Giving Circle. Ester is a member of Faith Missionary Baptist Church. Her interests include reading, spectator sports, spending time with family and spoiling her

Faye Zuidima worked for the Alachua County School Board as a teacher, Adult
Education supervisor and high school administrator. In these capacities she served as chairperson of several committees including the Santa Fe High School Advisory Council. Since retiring, she has remained involved with the educational community by assisting with fund raising activities and tutoring needy students. She has a doctorate in Education with a concentration in Child and Youth Studies.
Faye is a member of First Baptist Church of Alachua where she taught Sunday school and participated on various committees including Personnel and Hospitality. She and her Husband Jack are members of Friends of 4H and FFA. They are involved in the horse business and travel to horse events throughout the United States.