Friends Together began in 1999 as the vision of Cathy Robinson Pickett and Steve Pickett, in their dream of building a better future by meeting families’ needs for HIV/AIDs advocacy and awareness. In 2000, Friends Together shifted from being a loosely organized, grass-roots functioning group to becoming a well organized and managed 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that offered regular HIV/AIDs-related services, such as training, workshops, and family camps. Over the next decade, Friends Together became internationally known in its quest to assist families, particularly those with children infected and affected by HIV/AIDs, by providing education, support, and a plan for living. Today many of those served by Friends Together have gone on to a better life of completing college, embarking on careers, and creating their own families.
In 2010, the economic downturn, which reduced financial contributions and growth in HIV/AIDs educational and support systems led Friends Together to return to its grass-roots beginnings. During this time, it networked with other support organizations and churches to serve its families. Friends Together also evaluated its own “plan for living” by assessing the needs of today’s generation and re-envisioning its role in working toward building a better tomorrow.
In fall 2014, Friends Together was reborn as an organization that both remembers and builds on the firm foundation of its past to expand its reach to educate a new generation and help it overcome the challenges to creating a better future.
Friends Together Timeline
1999 • Friends Together begins holding monthly community meetings in Central Florida in fall of 1999.
2000 • Friends Together hosts AIDS Compassion Week at Florida Southern College in February, 2000 with a display of 500 AIDS quilt panels and 4 days of education events and HIV testing.
2000 • Friends Together begins hosting bi-monthly picnics in Central Florida for families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in fall of 2000
2000 • Friends Together hosts their first World AIDS Day event at Florida Southern College in December, 2000
2001 • Friends Together hosts first Back to School Collection Drive in summer, 2001
2001 • Friends Together hosts their first weekend retreat in Callahan, Labor Day weekend of 2001
2002 • Friends Together holds their first 500 miles in 5 days bike ride from March 31, 2002 to April 4, 2002
2002 • Friends Together hosts their first statewide weekend HIV Camp at Camp Wingmann in summer, 2002
2002 • Friends Together hosts their first Halloween Camp in October, 2002
2002 • Friends Together hosts their first Christmas Retreat for 200 people in Winter Haven December, 2002
2003 • Friends Together has a new permanent office at Florida Southern College in spring, 2003
2004 • Friends Together travels to Tanzania, Africa in August, 2004 for relief & education
2005 • Friends Together loses Steve in a car accident on April 25, 2005
2005 • Friends Together regroups with a grief weekend retreat with all of our families in May, 2005
2005 • Friends Together’s oldest kids begin to graduate from High School! May 2005
2006 • Friends Together returns to Tanzania in June, 2006 for relief and education
2007 • Friends Together changes their annual bike ride to a 300 mile in 3 days event so the older kids can be involved, Fall 2007
2010 • Friends Together makes the tough choice to quit hosting camps and transitions back to their grass root organization in 2010
2010-2014 • Friends Together networks its’ volunteers and other organizations to provide support and services to our families. We continue to use social media to keep our families connected and host get togethers in Central Florida several times a year. We continue our World AIDS Day events with other organizations and our volunteers continue their mission to educate and advocate whenever possible.
2015 • Friends Together returns for the 3RD TIME to Tanzania, Africa delivering over 2000 pounds of medical and schools supplies
2016 • Friends Together prepares for their 4th relief trip to Tanzania, Africa
2017 • Friends Together completed a successful 4th trip to Tanzania, Africa. We launched our “Friends Together Flow Project” & our very first building project, “Friends Together Tailoring Building” in Africa!!