When he was a teenager, Tim Holliday joked that whenever he had children, he would send them off to an island to be raised by a nanny. As the minister of the St. Thomas More youth group for the last nin years, Holliday looks back and laughs at God’s sense of humor, because not only does his family include his 8-year-old daughter, Faith, and his wife, Cynthia, but also 100 teenagers.
Holliday moved in 1983 from Bremberton, Wash., to Sarasota. He graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School, and although he had a good relationship with his on-campus pastor, he drifted away from the church.
“My wife wanted to check out St. Thomas More,” Holliday said. “They had a youth minister and maybe two to three kids who came, and it kind of fell apart. My wife and I had been trying for five years to have kids, and somewhere in the midst of all that, I thought, ‘OK, you’re having a kid; you need to do something for kids.’”
The youth ministry seemed like a good place to start, so Holliday met with the Rev. Don Henry, and together with Sister Judy Baldino, they formed a plan to get kids more active in the church.
“I call myself a ‘student of youth,’” Holliday says. “I try to read and learn everything I can about what’s going on. I think today’s youth have so much more stress and challenges, and I think they need something more. What we provide is a safe place where kids from all different schools and areas can come together, have fun and share things, do community service and learn about how God works in their lives.”
He’s taken the youth group on ski retreats to West Virginia and encouraged them to volunteer at the Pines of Sarasota Fall Festival. This year, they collected 14,000 pounds of canned food for All Faiths Food Bank and learned firsthand the plight of migrant workers in Arcadia.
“The kids had to practice what it was like picking oranges, filling bags and then imagining what it’s like to climb ladders all day doing that,” Holliday said. “Then they went out to the communities to see whole families living in a one-bedroom, beat-up mobile home. It was an eye-opener for these kids.”
Earlier this year, the youth group hosted an evening party for homeless families in the Salvation Army’s Faith Program.
“It was kind of neat for the kids to see that they could be one step away from this, but also to see kids and families trying to pull together and make it on the other side,” Holliday said. “The way I explain it to the kids is that we don’t so much pull out a book and study like they do at school. We try to live like the Bible is telling you to do — help your neighbor.”
IF YOU GO
In addition to being a youth minister at St. Thomas More, Tim Holliday owns Children’s World Uniform Supply, a 7,000-square-foot building stocked with everything from toys, custom embroidery and games to uniforms and a U.S. Post Office.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, Children’s World will participate in Neighborhood Toy Store Day, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s nationwide celebration of local toy stores.
“We’re going to have the inventor of the award-winning game, ‘Spontuneous,’ on hand to play with everyone, plus contests, games and prizes,” Tim Holliday said.