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For Good: USF partners with custom T-shirt company to raise funds for Moffitt

A local custom T-shirt company is partnering with USF to raise funds for cancer research.

Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More, a garment decorating franchise based out of Dunedin, has announced its exclusive sponsorship with the USF’s Athletics Department. The custom T-shirt company will provide USF’s ‘Bulls Against Cancer’ campaign shirts. These shirts support Moffitt Cancer Center, raising cancer awareness and funds for research.

The president of Big Frog, Dr. Tina Bacon-DeFrence, an alumna of USF, wants to help those battling cancer.

“All of us here at Big Frog, from the Dunedin headquarters to our individual franchises, and store employees across the country, have been affected by cancer in some form,” she says. “We might have battled through it ourselves, fought through it with a close friend or family member, or have shed tears over the loss of folks close to us.”

As part of the partnership, there will be several game-day promotions and giveaways during both USF’s football and basketball season. Big Frog will be introducing a T-shirt launcher, which will propel 3,000 shirts out to USF fans during men and women’s basketball home games.

In addition, the official kick off of the partnership between Big Frog and USF will take place at the USF’s home football game against UCONN on October 15th. During tailgating gatherings, flyers will be passed out with information on the partnership, and where people can order their T-shirts.

For those who are interested in getting one of the ‘Bulls Against Cancer’ shirts, Bacon-DeFrence says you can order them through Big Frog’s website.

For Good: Free Welcoming Tampa event celebrates cultural diversity of refugees, immigrants

No need to bring your passport to travel on a virtual tour around the world during a free event coming soon to USF.

Among the offerings at the second Welcoming Tampa celebration: Get a henna tattoo, take a Latin dance lesson, watch a culture fashion show, listen to live international music, visit cultural educational tables and test your patriotic knowledge by taking a mock citizenship test.

Along the way, it’s an opportunity to meet new neighbors -- resettled refugees and immigrants who now call this area home.

It takes place on Saturday, Sept. 17,  from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida. The collaborative effort is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Refugee Task Force, the USF’s Honors College and the Department of Global Health, and the local refugee and immigrant community. Campus organizations, volunteer outreach programs and social-service agencies take part as well.

This is just one event like this celebrated all over the country in September. The initiative is coordinated nationwide by Welcoming America, a Georgia-based nonprofit. The mission is to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by refugees and immigrants in local communities.

“It helps all who participate with a localized understanding of the refugee experience and encourage true connections across cultures,” says Natalie Harrell, spokesperson for the Suncoast Region of the Florida Department of Children and Families. “Every year we hear of new friendships formed and gatherings held after the event, so we know there is an ongoing impact.”

And for the refugee families, she says, it’s a day of fun where they get to see their culture celebrated and “feel fully included in their new community.” 

Service providers will also be on hand, as well as information on volunteer opportunities to encouragement more engagement.

This year’s theme is “Small Shoes, Big Journey,” and will focus on the experiences of refugee children and youth as they begin a new chapter of their lives here in the Tampa Bay area. Ten-year-old Rachel Ackey, whose father was once a refugee, is coordinating a shoe drive for these youngsters. To donate a new pair of shoes or a gift card for a refugee youth, email Florence and Rachel Ackey or call (813) 732-4190 or contact Elizabeth Dunn at (361) 510-7935.

Dena Gross Leavengood, a member of the Tampa Bay Refugee Advisory Group, an independent advocacy volunteer effort, says giving refugees a support system is the first step toward establishing normalcy in their new lives.

An event like this can be a first step in building new relationships, she says. It also can set in motion more dialogue so there is less duplication of services.

“The more coordination we have between agencies and volunteer groups, the better,” she says. “There are so many issues refugees face when the first arrive -- cultural divides, the language, transportation, housing, jobs. As a community, we need to collectively understand these challenges and how to address them.

“In the end, we all will benefit as they work toward becoming contributing citizens.”

For Good: Free eBook guides nonprofits in private-sector partnerships

Consonant Custom Media (CCM), a communications and publishing company headquartered in Sarasota, has released its latest eBook, “Making Private-Sector Partnerships Work for Your Nonprofit,’’ following a successful preview at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Planet Philanthropy' conference in June. 

The digital publication is available at no cost to communications, fundraising and development executives.

"Private sector partnerships are so vital, particularly to small- and medium-sized nonprofits, because they enable those nonprofits to magnify their reach and advance their mission,’’ says Steve Smith, CCM Creative Director and Publisher. “They help make the [nonprofit's] mission more understandable to more people and help them reach out to additional private-sector partners, donors and patrons.”

Smith notes that modern corporate culture emphasizes the value of social responsibility, and that companies engaged in cross-sector partnerships gain a competitive advantage with consumers, employees and investors. 

"Companies have made a transition from thinking 'We'll write a big check once a year' to really having social responsibility in their DNA. Now they want more of an intimate relationship with the nonprofit,’’ Smith says. “We're seeing corporations say, 'Let's look for ways our employees can participate’.” 

CCM's eBook cites Nielsen's 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility survey, stating that 55 percent of global respondents said they would be willing to pay more for goods and services from companies committed to social and environmental giving -- up from 45 percent in 2011. The eBook also cites a 2011 Deloitte Volunteer Impact study that found that 61 percent of Millennials consider a company's commitment to the community when making a job decision.

"There's a tremendous amount of value to the nonprofit because then if the relationship is being managed well, every one of those employees becomes an ambassador for that nonprofit," Smith says.

Chapters in Making Private-Sector Partnerships Work for Your Nonprofit include: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, Benefits of the Cross-Sector Partnership, Is Your Organization Ready for Sponsorships?, What Makes a Good Relationship? and How to Pitch to Private-Sector Partners.

Smith created the eBook with assistance from the CCM team, as well as editorial contributions from several nonprofit professionals. Contributors include Veronica Brady, Senior VP for Philanthropy at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Tom Waters, President and CEO of Easter Seals Southwest Florida and Martha Wells, Director of Community Engagement at the South Florida Museum.

“Making Private-Sector Partnerships Work for Your Nonprofit'' can be ordered by visiting the Consonant Custom Media's website.

For Good: Clearwater store donates shoes to those in need

Clearwater shoe retailer helps homeless women in need of shoes.

Peltz Shoes located in Clearwater, recently teamed up with the nonprofit Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP), and donated 200 pairs of shoes to be distributed to women's shelters and homeless shelters around the country.

“We chose to partner with the Homeless Empowerment Program because they have a diverse group of homeless individuals they serve,” says Dionna Thigpen, of Petlz Shoes.

HEP, which is also located in Clearwater, has been around since 1986. Their mission is to provide homeless and low-income individuals and families, with housing, food, clothing and other support services necessary to obtain self-sufficiency and an improved quality of life.

Peltz donated Naot shoes known for their fashion and comfort. The shoes have a unique anatomical footbed, which aligns with the contours of the foot.

Thigpen says this is the first year of the partnership between Peltz and HEP, however, they plan to do the event again.

“We honor our company's core value of caring for the community,” she says. “I think it's important to give those less fortunate an opportunity to be offered a quality shoe such as Naot. We also have a core value of caring for our vendors and this is a good way of showing partnership with Naot.”

While the donation event has ended, there is still time to help. If you would like to get involved, and donate to HEP, visit their website for more information.  

For Good: Grant pays for dentures for Pinellas needy

St. Petersburg residents have something to smile about after a sizeable grant was given to the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.
 
Florida Blue Foundation, which is part of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, has agreed to finance the ‘Smile, St. Pete,’ program, which will provide dentures, partial dentures and dental flippers to 300 people.
 
With an estimated cost of $200,000, the grant will provide dentures to low-income, uninsured and underserved adults in Pinellas County. The St. Petersburg Free Clinic provided oral health screenings and treatment to over 620 adults last year.
 
“We've seen a need in the community since we started the dental program in 2011, to expand and offer more services including dentures and flippers,” says Beth Houghton, Executive Director of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.  “Due to the number of extractions that are done with some of the people we serve, in order to chew well, eat and smile again dentures and partials are the only way to go.”
 
The grant offers funding over a three-year period. Houghton and her team say that the dental work can be life changing.
 
“Some of the people in our dental program have never been to a dentist before, so there were a lot of extractions that needed to be done,” says Susan Easter, Director of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic Health Center. “We had a patient who worked in the catering industry and lost his insurance and most of his income during the recession, he had 14 extractions. Working in the catering business, he needed the self-esteem that the dentures and smile gave him, rather than being embarrassed about his teeth.”
 
Houghton and Easter say there are many more people in need of help, and will continue to need help after the three year grant is over. In addition, while the grant is very helpful, it does not cover all of the other dental costs including x-rays, dental cleanings and fillings. If you would like make a donation to the clinic, click here.

For Good: Public-private partnership provides housing for former foster care youth

Teens who reach 18 and “age out” of the foster care system often have to confront reality quickly when they find themselves homeless.

Now thanks to a new partnership with Pinellas County, the Pinellas County Housing Authority and Ready for Life, the young men can find a safe, stable and affordable place to call home while they find employment and gain greater independence.

A three-bedroom, two-bath home in unincorporated Pinellas County, dubbed RFL (Ready for Life) Hope Home, can house five former foster youth at a time, along with one adult team leader.

“The home was donated to us by Pinellas County,” says Debbie Johnson, executive director of the Pinellas County Housing Authority. “It had been used as an office at one time, but had been vacant for a while. We had been in the process of determining the best use for it and decided to partner with Ready for Life.”

Although this home has been set aside for young men, the hope is that additional homes for young women and young single mothers will be found in the future.

Ready for Life, a nonprofit organization providing support to former foster youth, will be renting the home from the housing authority. Grants and independent donations, along with a portion contributed by the youth once they find employment, will go toward the rent, says Kathy Mize Plummer, CEO of Ready for Life.

The Pinellas County Housing Authority rehabbed the house, installing new flooring, duct work and air conditioning, a sprinkler system and lawn. Team Hope, a group of volunteers who support Ready for Life programs, provided all the home’s furnishings, including rugs, curtains, comforters for the bed, kitchen utensils and artwork on the walls. Other volunteers who serve as mentors to the youth stocked the refrigerator and pantry.  

“So many of these young men have lived in 25 to 30 foster homes,” says Johnson.  “They have no sense of belonging. Now at least Hope Home gives them a place to come home to and one less thing to worry about while they work on becoming self-sufficient.”

For Good: Family-friendly event brings awareness to needs of Third World countries

A child-centric event in Tampa focuses on helping less fortunate children around the world.

The second-annual Kids Helping Kids event has plenty of activities for children and families, but with a larger purpose. Sponsored by Village Partners International, a nonprofit group that completes medical mission trips to Haiti and Africa, as well as local outreach to Beth-El Farmwork Ministry in Wimauma, the focus is on giving back.

“Our mission is to help people help themselves,” says Surgeon and Philanthropist Sylvia Campbell, Founder of Village Partners International. “At the same time, we want to educate children of the community on people in Third World countries. We feel it is important that the younger generation understand the needs of children in other places.”

To execute their mission, Campbell explains that this year's event will feature fun activity stations that represent different countries around the world.

“We will have a station where children can learn to roll necklaces, balance water jugs, put medical bags together, in addition to face painting, hula hoops, rock painting and many more fun activities,” she says.

The event will take place on July 16th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Water Works Park, 1710 N Highland Ave., on the Tampa Riverwalk near downtown Tampa. Admission is free, however, donations are encouraged.

“We are in need of children's vitamins, not the gummy candy variety, as younger children tend to eat these in excess,” Campbell says. “We are also in need of closed-toed shoes for children who work in the fields, all sizes welcome.”

For more information and details on the Kids Helping Kids event on July 16, click here.  

Major grant to help Tarpon Springs program create solutions to adverse childhood experiences

Robin Saegner wants the world to be a better and safer place. Because she’s just one person, she’s concentrating on bringing this dream to reality in her own backyard in Tarpon Springs.

In 2010, she founded the Peace4Tarpon Informed Community Initiative with the ambitious mission of creating a more peaceful and thriving Tarpon Springs. Saegner envisions a community where all residents are safe healthy, educated, respected and valued.

What makes this initiative unique is that it uses a whole community, holistic approach to solving challenging issues by seeking to understand and address root causes, instead of symptoms. Saegner’s vision just got a big endorsement – and financial boost.

Peace4Tarpon was selected as one of 14 programs in the United States – and the only one in Florida – to get a grant to support and expand its innovative work to address childhood adversity. It will receive nearly $300,000 over a two-year period from the Health Federation of Philadelphia with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The California Endowment.

With this grant, Peace4Tarpon joins the other 13 programs in a collaborative project called Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC). They will share best practices, try new approaches and become models for other communities in implementing effective solutions for combatting adverse childhood experiences, known as ACEs.

“The MARC project will give us a fantastic opportunity to take our work of building a peaceful, healthy and resilient community to the next level,” says Saegner, former Vice Mayor of Tarpon Springs. “Our goal is to reduce the number of ACEs and build resiliency, which will greatly increase their chances of leading happier, healthier and more successful lives.”

Some of the areas she and other project directors will target are child neglect, abuse and abandonment, and how to come up with solutions to prevent them. Studies have shown that these traumatic events can have lifelong impacts on children’s health and behavior, and affect the communities they live in.

Saegner says she sees this as the “public health issue of our time.”

“We see how unaddressed trauma plays out every day from the most personal level to national news. It is at the root of both physical and emotional challenges,” she says. “The current epidemic of trauma can be slowed and eventually reversed if we address it through a unified purpose and response. This is what fuels my commitment to this cause.”

Tarpon4Peace and the other programs selected to be part of the MARC initiative got a strong endorsement for the work they are doing by a spokesperson for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Martha B. Davis called them “living laboratories that can teach all of us” what it takes to transform cycles of trauma into a culture of health.

“Anyone who is interested in strengthening the resilience of their community should pay attention to what these communities are doing,” Davis says.

Other recipients include: Alaska Resilience Initiative; The HEARTS Initiative for ACE Response in Albany, N.Y.; Vital Village Community Engagement Network in Boston; Buncombe County (North Carolina) ACEs Collaborative; Creating Sanctuary in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon; Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative; Trauma Matters in Kansas City, Mo.; Elevate Montana; Philadelphia ACE Task Force; San Diego Trauma Informed Guide Team & Building Health Communities Central Region; Sonoma County (California) Connection; ACEs/Resilience Team & Children’s Resilience Initiative in Washington; and Wisconsin Collective Impact Coalition. 

For Good: Investment comes at right time to help foster youth transition to independent living

A Pinellas County-based nonprofit that helps foster youth transition to adulthood by connecting them to social services, mentors and public programs is the second recipient of funding from Social Ventures Partners Tampa Bay.

Ready for Life, a grassroots organization now in its seventh year, got $15,000 in unrestricted funding to invest in its efforts in addressing homelessness – an issue given high priority by SVP Tampa Bay partners in 2015.

Of the 44 applicants, three programs made the final cut. The other two were Alpha House of Tampa and Positive Spin.

“We had many excellent candidates,” says Rebekah Heppner, Founder and Executive Director. “And all three of the finalists have missions that meet our focal point. But Ready for Life was at the right time in its growth where we felt we could make the biggest impact.”

SVP Tampa Bay, launched in January 2014, is the first Florida affiliate of the global Social Venture Partners network, a philanthropic model based on venture capitalism with social returns as the goal. 

Nearly 40 cities in eight countries are part of the network.

The funding is just one component of being selected as a SVP investee.

The recipients also get free professional consulting from the SVP partners, who donate at least $5,000 and a diverse array of pro-bono expertise in helping the organizations grow and prosper. Tampa Bay now has 27 partners backing the initiative.  

“The money is huge and the partnership is even bigger,” says Scott Clendening, board member of Ready for Life. “Our organization is growing and the number of people we serve is growing. The assistance and leadership they will be able to provide us will be invaluable.”

Ready for Life depends solely on private funding. This year’s budget is about $250,000 -- up from $75,000 when it first began.

Clendening, who works in commercial real estate, has been with the group since the beginning. He wanted to do something worthwhile in the community, and Ready for Life’s mission fit that bill.

Some 25 percent of youth aging out of foster care experience homelessness during the first year of being on their own. Less than half of them have a high-school diploma, and 42 percent of the young women that age are pregnant or already parenting a child. Through Ready for Life, they can receive parenting support and assistance in earning a GED.

Hundreds of volunteers and a small staff step in with assistance in several areas, from providing bus passes, help in finding an apartment, tutoring and advice on how to dress for a job interview. Clendening says the group is helping nearly 500 clients “in some form or fashion.”

“We’ve become their extended family,” he says. “So many of these young adults fall through the cracks and are lost in the system. We’re there as their connectors, as their advocates. The success stories will really touch your heart. And our community is better off when they become self-sufficient.”

His greatest joy?

“As a father of three girls, I live on a chick farm,” Clendening says. “Now I’m mentoring four young men. 
They’re so cool and wonderful. It’s a new experience for me and I love it.”

Community Tampa Bay, whose mission is to promote dialogue and respect among all cultures, religion and races by cultivating leaders to change communities, got the first SVP investment of $25,000 last year. The partners gave the group another $20,000 this time around.

For Good: Seafood processing plant wins Gulf Coast Community Foundation incentive grant

A proposal to create a state-of-the-art seafood processing and distribution plant in Manatee County claimed the top prize on Monday in the inaugural Gulf Coast Innovation Challenge. The winning project “Healthy Earth-Gulf Coast: Sustainable Seafood System” was chosen from a pool of more than 30 proposals in the Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s first ever incentive-grant competition intended to stimulate Florida’s Blue Economy.

The Healthy Earth-Gulf Coast team is comprised of nonprofit and private partners, including the Sarasota-based natural and sustainable foods business Healthy Earth, scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory, the Cortez fishing community and the Chiles Group, a Sarasota-Manatee restaurant group that champions seafood sustainability. 

“What we have is a commodity-based model, but what we need is an asset value based model. We’re currently selling great, wild, organic healthy seafood as a commodity -- and we undervalue our heritage resource,” Chiles Group CEO Ed Chiles explained in a September interview with 83 Degrees.

Chiles says that Manatee County’s “heritage resource” -- gray-striped mullet -- currently leaves the region at approximately $10 per pound and is typically processed overseas before returning to the United States as a salted and cured delicacy known as bottarga, which retails at up to $200 per pound. 

“All the value-added steps are being captured elsewhere on our product,” Chiles says. “We need a state-of-the-art facility so that we can capture the hierarchy of value with that mullet here in Manatee County.”

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation awarded Healthy Earth-Gulf Coast a $25,000 grant to develop its business prototype when the team advanced to the Challenge finalist stage in July. Healthy-Earth Gulf Coast will now receive an additional $375,000 in grant funding to pursue its plans for a value-added processing plant in Manatee County, which the team proposes will create new economic opportunities and revitalize the region’s heritage fishing community.

In addition to the construction of a multifaceted processing facility, Healthy Earth-Gulf Coast seeks to achieve Marine Stewardship Council certification to strengthen a sustainable local Blue Economy centered on mullet, and eventually other locally sourced seafood.

“The problem with aquaculture in the U.S. is that we are grossly behind the rest of the world. The total world aquaculture market in 2014 was $147 billion, and the U.S. accounted for only 1.4 percent of that. We have an $11 billion trade deficit in seafood,” says Healthy Earth CEO Chris Cogan.

“The only aquaculture that exists in the U.S. are ‘Mom and Pop’ farms. They can grow it just fine, but the problem is they can’t do anything with it. Without the proper facilities, they can’t process it and prepare it in such a way that places like Publix or Whole Foods are willing to buy it wholesale. … Everything we do, we want to do sustainably -- whether that’s farm-raising fish, or making a more sustainable market for wild-caught fish, as is the case with grey striped mullet,” Cogan says.

The winning team was chosen by a panel of local business, investment and technology experts who reviewed the five finalists’ proposals and advised the Gulf Coast Community Foundation Board of Directors in the final decision.

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation launched the $500,000 incentive-grant challenge in February. Of the more than 30 teams that applied to the competition, five were awarded $25,000 apiece in July to create their prototypes. All of the original challengers’ submissions, including short videos of their proposals, remain available online at the GCCF website.

For Good: Humana seeks nonprofits for wellness grant

Tampa Bay nonprofits that promote wellness may be eligible for a grant being awarded by the Humana Foundation, which is currently seeking applications from organizations for their yearly grant.
 
“We are looking for organizations that promote healthy behaviors, health education and access to health services in the community,” says Dr. Theo Sai, Humana regional medical director for central Florida. “It is part of Humana’s larger commitment to improve health in the community by 20 percent by the year 2020.”
 
Beginning December 1st, local nonprofits can submit a letter of intent outlining their organization’s proposed initiative. Upon evaluation, those selected will be invited to submit an online application, with a winner being announced March 2016.  
 
Last year, Tampa Palms-based charity, Starting Right Now, was the recipient of the Humana Communities Benefit Grant, receiving $350,000. Starting Right Now (SRN) helps homeless teenagers with resources including housing, mentoring, employment and education. The money was used to expand the nonprofit’s Hillsborough housing, making rooms for 24 more youth, and is restoring a school in Pinellas County that will be used to house an additional 50 teens.
 
Giving back to the community is a priority for the large health insurance company.
 
“Humana encourages all people, including our own employees, to volunteer and contribute to their communities,” Sai says. “When people give and volunteer, it leads to a better community overall.”
 
For additional information on the Humana Foundation or how to apply for the grant, visit the Humana Foundation's website.

For Good: Scavenger hunt to benefit St. Pete animal shelter on Nov. 14

A local nonprofit animal shelter is hoping to raise some funds through a scavenger hunt that will take place in downtown St. Petersburg on November 14.

The Quest for the Emerald Paw will start at 11 a.m. at the Friends of Strays Animal Shelter, 2911 47th Ave. N. Teams will wind through downtown St. Pete toward Grand Central, stopping at stores, murals, statues and other destinations to collect clues along the way. The quest will end in DTSP, with an awards ceremony at 4 p.m. and a victory party to follow.

Mo Eppley, president of the Board of Directors for Friends of Strays, anticipates around 50 teams participating in the event. The cost to enter: $100 per teams of four.

Team names will be selected from the names of animals currently available for adoption at the shelter. Each team member will receive a T-shirt to wear during the quest, and a drink ticket for the celebration party.

The "emerald paw" prize is actually a 3D printed Emerald Paw trophy from FreeFab 3D, LLC, one of the event's sponsors, says Eppley, owner of St. Pete-based MityMo Design and co-founder of FreeFab

Local Tampa Bay social media personality and reporter Meredyth Censullo will be the MC for the victory party after the scavenger hunt, Eppley says. The location is TBA. 
 
The Quest for the Emerald Paw "is really for anyone," Eppley says. "This is a great way for someone who supports animals causes, but doesn’t want to go to the shelter."

By making the event something distinctive from a "typical fundraiser," Epply says, "we really hope this brings awareness to our organization. This makes it fun and helps the animals!"  

Interested in participating in the Quest for the Emerald Paw scavenger hunt? The deadline to sign up is November 11; register online here.

Volunteers are wanted; to sign up, email the organizing team here.

Friends of Strays performs vaccinations and checkups, and cares for cats and dogs until they are adopted. The nonprofit organization, located in St. Pete, works to care for and adopt out homeless pets from the animal shelter, which can house up to 100 cats and dogs at a given time.

For Good: Going to the mat for 1Voice Foundation

More than 20 million Americans do it.

And it’s a number that is on the upswing. According to the Yoga Journal, this Eastern practice that bends the muscles, soothes the soul and reduces stress gains more participants every year.

So when Mary Ann Massolio, executive director of the Tampa-based 1Voice Foundation, decided to add another event to raise funds for pediatric cancer research, she turned to yoga.

“It’s the perfect fit,” says Massolio. “We’re a family-centered nonprofit, and yoga is for all ages. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.”

On Sunday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the first-ever It’s Just Yoga Health and Fitness Festival comes to Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, 601 Old Water St., on the Tampa Riverwalk near the Tampa Bay History Center. It’s yogi heaven, with classes for beginners to experts, and an interactive wellness marketplace to sample and explore new fitness trends, eco-friendly products and healthy food.

Six local yoga studios will be donating their expertise for free, offering sessions on the mat geared toward weight loss, stress reduction, children, roga (yoga for runners) and restorative yoga. And for a creative spin, there are demonstrations of Acro Yoga, Paddleboard Yoga and Aerial Yoga.

There’s no cost for the festival. Instead, all classes are donation-based, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to 1Voice Foundation. Donations can be made in advance at www.ItsJustYogaFest.com or on the day of the festival. A $20 donation (limited to the first 100 people) will include a chocolate, cheese and wine tasting after the festival at Whole Foods,1548 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa.

Massolio founded the nonprofit after her son, Jay, died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma at age 9. Its mission is to support children with cancer and their families by connecting them with financial, emotional and educational care while funding research for a cure.

Currently, the group is helping fund research conducted by Dr. Cameron Tebbi at University of South Florida to create a vaccine that would prevent childhood leukemia – a project he’s been working on for nearly 40 years.

And in January, 1Voice Foundation, in collaboration with Hillsborough County Schools, will open the country’s first satellite school dedicated to children with cancer.

“It was Jay’s dream to be able to attend school. But when kids are going through treatment, their immune systems are compromised,” says Massolio. “The academy will be in a sterile environment, giving them a safe place to learn.”

1Voice hosts several fundraisers through the year, such as a fishing contest, lunch on a cruise ship, a wine-tasting event and a golf tournament with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Massolio got enthused about adding the yoga festival after meeting with event coordinator Colette Ferrell, who organized a similar yogafest in Orlando that drew about 2,000 people.

Given the practice’s popularity, Ferrell is confident Sunday’s festival will draw a big crowd. 

“Whether you’re new to the mat or you’re an experienced yogi, we’ve got something for everyone,” she says. “You got to feel good about this event. It’s all about healthy living, and it’s for a good local cause. It’s a win-win for all.”

For Good: Play Day in the Park teaches Tampa Bay Area kids about philanthropy

Sylvia Campbell believes it’s never too early to begin teaching children about their role in the local and global community.

“Allow them in their own way to help others,” say the Tampa surgeon, “and you develop a culture of love and compassion for others in need, as well as an awareness of a world outside the one you inhabit.”

That’s the premise behind Play Day in the Park, set for 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Kate Jackson Park, 821 S. Rome Ave., Tampa. Think of it as crash course in philanthropy for pint-sized participants.

The interactive event is sponsored by Village Partners International,  the nonprofit Campbell founded and serves as President of the board. The mission organization partners with villages in Haiti and Uganda to create independent, self-sustaining projects, and locally works with Beth-El Farmworker Ministry in Wimauma. Its focus: Health, education, housing and entrepreneurship.

For Campbell, working with VPI has allowed her to be part of a “community of giving in the most amazing way.”

“It’s restored my faith not only in myself, but in humanity,” she says. “People truly do want to help, if only they knew the way.”

This first-ever interactive Play in the Park is designed to show children that they don’t have to wait until they grow up to get involved, and to celebrate the cultures of Haiti and Uganda.

The event will include activities, crafts, games, snacks, music and face-painting. Though admission is free, donations will be accepted at some of the displays to go toward VPI’s work. Also, children are encouraged to bring their favorite Band-Aids or vitamins to give to one of the medical clinics run by the nonprofit.

Campbell acknowledges that it’s not an easy task to teach kids from comfortable homes about poverty – especially the kind of poverty that VPI volunteers experience on their mission trips. Parents can play a big role in teaching their children how their seemingly small, insignificant actions, such as bringing vitamins, collecting pennies or sending cards, can be significant when added together and “truly change the world.”

“Children in this community have been given so much,” she says. “It’s part of our responsibility about adults to instill in them the desire to help others, and to understand that with privilege, comes responsibility to others.”

To learn more about the event, go to Facebook and search: “Kids Helping Kids! Presented by Village Partners International.”

For Good: Growing Jesuit High School in Tampa gets $35M in donations to renovate, expand

Generous graduates and community donors open their wallets for Jesuit High School, giving more than $35 million dollars, which will go toward the school’s fundraising campaign and campus remodel.
 
The historic school on Himes Avenue has been a fixture in the community since it was built in 1956. Since then, while there have been improvements and upgrades over the years, the school set out on a fundraising campaign to update the 40-acre campus, adding four new buildings and renovating others.
 
“The refurbishment of the campus will begin with a full renovation of the chapel, which is the heart of the school,” says Pete Young of Jesuit High School. “The students gather every morning for Convocation, and we are maxed out on the number of students we can fit in the sanctuary, there is just no room for growth, so we need a larger chapel so we can accommodate more students.”
 
Young goes on to say that St. Anthony’s Chapel, where Convocation and Mass is held, does not have any kneelers so students have to kneel on the floor. In the renovation, kneelers will be put into the chapel.
 
The fundraising campaign and campus remodel plans were made public at an event held at the Renaissance Hotel in Tampa, where Jesuit High School president and Father Richard C. Hermes announced that $27.5 million had been raised. At the same event, it was also announced that a $2.5 million gift was given by Marty and Ted Couch. Ted Couch, an alumni and commercial real estate developer, was president of the former Northside Bank of Tampa. He was also one of the founders and a former board chairman of Moffitt Cancer Center and former chair of Florida Hospital in Tampa. Couch’s gift is the largest single gift ever received by the school.
 
While there are many plans for physical transformation of the campus, funds from the campaign will go to other worthy causes within the school.
 
“It’s not all about the physical campus,” Young says. “We have a longstanding commitment to provide financial aid to students in need of assistance, so a good portion of the money will go toward our financial aid endowment program. We never want to hold a student back from getting an education with us due to financial reasons.”
 
Young goes on to say that funds will also go toward staff retention and extracurricular activities.
 
“We are committed to educating as many boys as possible, and forming young men in the Tampa Bay area,” Young says. “In our tagline is the Latin word 'magis,' which roughly translated means more, or striving for more. It is something we instill in our students to always be striving for more, to be better. So for the leaders of the school to be doing what they can and strive to make the school the best it can be in every way really shows students we practice what we preach.”
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