Pastor offers church for victim's funeral

29-year-old's body found Friday

By Heather Leigh - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Westside pastor is offering his church to the family of 29-year-old Shaquita Smith so they can hold a funeral for the mother of two.

She was found in a ditch Friday off Park City Drive, and the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office is still searching for a killer.

Pastor Gabriel Trevino said after seeing Channel 4's coverage of the incident and the family's fear of not being able to give Smith a proper funeral, he felt the need to get involved and help them. They took his offer.

Trevino, pastor at Faith Temple Assembly of God on the Westside, said his heart goes out to Smith's family.

"There's an obvious need and there's obvious hurt, and we feel called to come into this situation and say how can we fill that need," Trevino said. "It doesn't take a genius. It's a building. It's here. Lets use it."

Family members told Channel 4 they reported Smith missing after she didn't return from a late walk. A few days later, the family got the terrible news.

Officers found Smith's body on Friday, just a few miles from Faith Temple Assembly of God. Trevino said he drove by the scene Friday evening but didn't know what was going on until later that night.

"This isn't just for our members, this is for the Westside," Trevino said. "And obviously the hurt is there, and if we can do anything to help comfort or to help heal that, that's what we're here for."

Trevino said this act of kindness is just one of many he and members of his church hope to give through the church's outreach program, the Jacksonville Dream Center. He said his dream is to change the Westside's reputation.

"We have bigger dreams to see a facility one day," Trevino said. "We're looking at a spot where we can begin to do more ministry. Do we have the money? No, but we have a passion and a dream, and we believe it's possible."

Trevino said he and Smith's family are working out the details for the funeral.

The family mentioned they were going to try and set up an account to help fund the funeral.

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