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For Good

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For Good: Saint Leo University president gives up inauguration celebration for student scholarships

When Saint Leo University president Dr. William J. Lennox Jr. took over the reins of the school earlier this year, he was asked what kind of celebration he wanted as part of his inauguration. With several options from which to choose, including galas, private dinners or weeklong affairs, the president chose an unanticipated option. He chose not to celebrate at all.

“When I had the conversation with him about his inauguration celebration, he had a lot of questions,” says Denny Moller, VP for university advancement at Saint Leo University. “One of his biggest concerns was the cost of the celebration. He finally just said he would rather see that money go back to the students.”

Instead of a presidential inauguration, university leaders decided to award $2,500 scholarships to 20 deserving students. The scholarships will be divided among students at the university campus, those who take courses online exclusively and graduate students.

“These are one-time scholarships funded by a donor to the university,” Moller says. “We are expecting to get hundreds of submissions.”

Moller says that students have to submit applications by October 30th to be eligible, and will receive funding for the spring semester. He also says funds will be given to those who are expected to graduate next year.

“These scholarships are to help those who are close to graduating,” he says. “We will only be looking at applicants who are scheduled to graduate in the spring.”

The application process includes submitting an application online and writing an essay that illustrates the student’s financial need.

“It is our hope that the president’s gesture sends a positive message, not only to our students,  but to the rest of the education community and leadership, that it should always be about the students.”  

For Good: Beverage association offers grant money to nonprofits

In an effort to promote health and wellness in the community, the Florida Beverage Association (FBA) is launching a grant program that will help fund nonprofits that encourage nutrition, physical activity, health and wellness, as well as environmental sustainability programs.
 
The FBA is made up of several beverage companies including Dr. Pepper, Snapple, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co. and Nestle Water. 
 
“We want people to know that we care about the communities we serve, and where our employees live, work and play and ensure they are healthy and environmentally sustainable,” says Liz Castro-DeWitt, executive director of the Florida Beverage Association.
 
To be considered for the grant, nonprofits must be a 501(c)(3) charitable organization or a state or local governmental entity and meet the requirements the FBA has listed on their website.
 
Castro-DeWitt says FBA grants may also be eligible for consideration for matching grants from the American Foundation for a Healthy America.
 
As far as who should apply, Castro-DeWitt says accredited nonprofits that meet the requirements are welcome.
 
“We are looking for people with innovative ideas from how an individual or group introduced recycling to their community, to fitness camps in community parks to something we have never even thought of or heard of before,” she says. “This is the first year we are doing the grant program, so we are very excited about it, and excited to see what people come up with.”
 
Grant applications need to be submitted by October 15, 2015. All applications will be reviewed by the FBA grant subcommittee. Grant recipients will be selected and notified by the FBA Board of Directors by December 31, 2015. To learn more about how to apply, or to get an application visit the FBA website.

For Good: Temple Terrrace nonprofit offers innovative after-school mentoring program

While many parents are investing in school supplies and preparing to send their children back to school for another year, remember the students who are underserved and often overlooked, says Tia Dixon, President and CEO of Posimoto, a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youth through an after-school mentoring program.

Dixon, was one of the lucky ones at first, being able to attend after-school programs that enriched her life. Then in high school, family difficulties left Dixon feeling uncertain about her own future. Around that time, a complete stranger came into Dixon’s life and helped her turn it around by taking her under her wing and showing Dixon that she had a bright future.

“I wanted to give back, and that is how Posimoto got started in 2012,” says Dixon. “I really wanted to show kids that they can succeed no matter what is going on in their life at the time, and to not let what is going on in their life get in the way of that success.”

So where does the name Posimoto come from? Dixon says it is a pronoun she came up with to name someone who gives positive motivation to help others be successful in life.

Dixon goes on to explain that Posimoto is not your typical after-school program in which children play all afternoon.

“We have a curriculum that we follow, and every week we have a core value that we focus on,” she says. “We also have trade and career mentors that come throughout the week and work with the kids, a reading program and a sports mentoring program every Saturday.”

The program’s location in Temple Terrace was strategically chosen given the population and surrounding schools.

“Sulpher Springs, which is nearby, the park and surrounding areas we are in are disadvantaged areas,” Dixon says. “The schools in this area are average ‘C’s, and if you look closer into the ratings you will find that the students here are really struggling with reading scores, which is why we offer the reading program.”

Since opening its doors in 2012, Dixon and her team have served 250 children. She expects nearly 60 students to be involved in the program this school year, which is nearly double the number she had last year.

While the after-school program is not free, it is quite reasonable compared to most after-school programs, and some families can get assistance through government funding. Dixon says the Saturday sports program is free, and all children between the ages of five and 12 years old are welcome regardless of whether they attend the after-school program.

With Dixon’s program expanding, donations from the community are needed. Last year it cost $50,000 to run the nonprofit and chances are those costs will increase.

“Our biggest need right now is another van,” Dixon says. “We only have one van right now, however with more students coming in, we need another van to pick them up from school or home and bring them here. We don’t want kids being left out because they didn’t have transportation.”

For those interested in donating to Posimoto, there is a wish list on their website.

For Good: Social Venture Partners selects finalists for charitable investment

Social Venture Partners (SVP) Tampa Chapter, which helps individuals and nonprofits looking to give back to the community, is in the process of selecting which charity they will fund.

After a speaker series earlier this year and discussions among its members, the SVP decided to focus on one specific issue.

“The five finalists we have chosen fit into the focus areas that we had set, which is homelessness and foster care,” says Rebekah Heppner, Executive Director and Founding Partner of SVP. “In particular, these groups were doing things that were more preventative so that less people are in the foster care system or end up homeless.”

The five finalists selected are Adoption Related Services of Pinellas, Alpha House of Tampa, Bright Community Trust, Positive Spin and Ready for Life.

Heppner says the final application and selection process requires that finalists submit additional information, SVP members conduct site visits in September. On November 12th, remaining finalists and ultimately funding recipients will be announced.

She goes on to say that there has been a heavy interest from those wanting to invest and become a part of SVP. The deadline to become a member and become part of this year's effort is October 31st.

What is SVP’s goal in all this? To help these charities by combining financial and human capital to strengthen their infrastructure in order to fulfill their missions.

“Ultimately we are looking for groups that are at the right point in the development where our partners can really make a difference,” Heppner says. “This means they already have a good business foundation that works, and have ideas that they have shared in their application where we can help them even more.”

For more information, visit the Social Venture Partners website.

For Good: Safety Harbor merchants offer loyalty card discounts, donate to local nonprofits

The businesses of Safety Harbor have found an innovative way to give back to the community through a fundraising challenge. The Safety Harbor Downtown Business Alliance, Inc. (SHDBA) has launched a campaign to raise money for charities using a loyalty card.
 
“The campaign was designed to encourage excitement in the philanthropic community about supporting charities while saving money for their families at small businesses in Safety Harbor for a year,” says Karena Morrison, SHDBA charity challenge manager. “We began with 18 merchants and have added 9 more since the launch of the promotion of the challenge on May 1st. We are inviting more merchants in Safety Harbor to join our efforts.”  

The loyalty card can be purchased online via the SHDBA website, and buyers can then use the card to save at participating merchants.
 
Merchants include Live Fit Academy, Paradise Restaurant, Boutique 238, Practically Pikasso, Brady’s BBQ, Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club, Safety Harbor Chevron and Cold Stone Creamery.
 
In addition to the savings loyalty card members receive, they will also be doing some good.
 
“The merchants who were participating in the loyalty card program as of May 1st are also competing for votes, and the top three merchants will be offered the opportunity to select and donate a bonus to one of the approved charities in the challenge,” Morrison says. “100-percent of the proceeds from the loyalty card sales will be donated to approved charities and the SHDBA, Inc.”
 
Approved charities include My Hope Chest, Stop Bullying Now Foundation, Florida Autism Center of Excellence, RCS Food Bank, Suncoast Animal League, Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Student Education Center and the Safety Harbor Museum & Cultural Center.
 
For more information, or to purchase a loyalty card, visit the SHDBA website.

For Good: Clearwater art events help local causes

Art lovers in Clearwater can enjoy their craft, buy pieces and give back to the community, as the city of Clearwater hosts its new Arts in the Park event. The event takes place July 18th from 10 a.m. To 3 p.m.

“Arts in the Park is a new event. When I arrived seven years ago, I started working with the city on putting events downtown,” says Shelley Jaffe, president of the Clearwater Center for the Arts “My husband and I started to produce a poetry walk, which we had about 100 people coming to, and we did a book and wine festival, but the one thing we noticed is that we put on these great art events, but people didn't have anything to come back to until we put on another event.”

That is when Jaffe decided to open the Clearwater Center for the Arts.

“Although we do have gallery space and put on events, we also offer classes and seminars for the public.”

Jaffe says coming in the fall, the center will host monthly events for local charities to raise awareness to causes from human trafficking to breast cancer, poverty and hunger.

“What we do is ask artists to submit work that is relevant to the subject. So if it's about homelessness, then the artwork should have something to do with the subject of being homeless. Or if its about human rights, then it should communicate something about human rights. Then we put on a show and the artwork is displayed, we have a speaker from the organization speak on the topic. The art will be sold either by silent auction or by price tag.”

With any artwork sold, Jaffe says 50-percent goes to the artist and 50-percent goes to the center, a nonprofit itself. All of the proceeds from the silent auction go to the charity being spotlighted that particular month.

Soon after the opening of the center, the city suggested to Jaffe that she host a monthly outdoor event in the park across the street, soon Arts in the Park was born. The event runs year-round, and is the third Saturday of each month.

The Arts in the Park event is planning to take place July 18th outside at Station Square park located at 612 Cleveland Street in Clearwater. Should there be inclement weather, the event will still go across the street inside the Clearwater Center for the Arts.

For information on charity event nights coming this fall, visit the center's website.

For Good: Electrical contractor takes on distracted driving with national campaign

Each time you text while driving, your eyes stray from the road for around five seconds – enough time for an accident to occur. According to the National Safety Council, one in four car crashes involves cell phone use. 

At any given moment, more than 660,000 people across the United States are using cell phones or other electronic devices. Texting and driving can be especially dangerous for teens on the road.

One local company is taking a proactive approach to reducing distracted driving through a new safe driving campaign. St. Petersburg-based electrical contractor Power Design, Inc, launched “Decide to Drive” to encourage employees and fellow community members to practice safe driving.

“Join me in making the one decision not to text while driving, the one decision not to email while driving, and the one decision not to drink and drive,” Power Design CEO Mitch Permuy explains in a news release.

The “Decide to Drive” campaign is centered on the Power of One pledge, or the notion that one safe driver can save lives.

“Power of One is about how the decisions we make every day impact us as individuals, impact our families, our friends and the communities we belong to,” Permuy says.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman praises the local business for “doing their part to create a safer St. Petersburg.”

"As mayor, my first and most important job is public safety,” Kriseman says. “Too many people across our nation have lost their lives in the brief moment they or another driver used a cell phone or electronic device.

Kriseman called for drivers in St. Pete and across the country to “work together and help save lives.”

Power Design has partnered with EndDD, a website dedicated to safer driving, to promote the “Decide to Drive” campaign.

“We are always grateful to spread the message at workplaces, and we anticipate that employees will bring the safe driving message to their families and to those they care about,” website creator Joel Feldman explains in a news release. 

Other efforts to promote the “Decide to Drive” campaign will include establishing a Power Design corporate transportation program, supporting People Against Distracted Driving, providing information on safe driving apps to employees, and informing the community about the campaign through social media.

To view the Power of One pledge and learn more, visit the “Decide to Drive” campaign website

For Good: Walmart Foundation gives $100K to Pinellas charity

The Walmart Foundation gave $100,000 in June to Religious Community Services in Pinellas County as part of its $1 million Statewide Giving Tour. The grant was the only one given in the Tampa Bay area by the foundation, and the single largest one among 21 state recipients for 2015.

“We’re so appreciative of this,” says Caitlin Higgins Joy, RCS president and CEO. “It comes at a crucial time. We focus on the hungry, and summer can be an additional burden especially on families.”

Joy says the grant money will fund two “gently used” refrigerated food trucks that are needed for the nonprofit’s food distribution efforts through Pinellas County. They will replace aging vehicles in the current fleet.

“This is a vital part of our operation,” she says. “But it’s a costly investment. The grant gives us peace of mind that we will be able to upgrade our ability to deliver food.”

The RCS, founded in 1967 by 15 congregations, runs four programs that serve people struggling with hunger, homelessness and domestic violence. 

To meet its mission to help the hungry, the nonprofit delivers donated and federally subsidized food to more than 60 sites from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs five days a week. It also serves upwards of 5,500 people a month at its food bank in a Clearwater warehouse. Most clients are elderly people on a fixed income, struggling families or the underemployed.

RCS provides emergency shelter for families on the brink of homelessness for up to eight weeks at its Grace House apartments, and gives shelter and outreach services to victims of domestic violence at The Haven. 

In addition, it also operates a thrift store in Largo. Every sale benefits RSC programs, and all donated items, from clothing to furniture, are tax-deductible.

The charity now has 160 member affiliates, representing all different faiths. It depends on a wide variety of funding, from federal, state and local grants, private foundations and individual donors.

In the last fiscal year, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have given more than $82 million in cash and in-kind contributions to charitable organizations throughout Florida.

Its State Giving Program aims to support organizations that create opportunities so people can live better. RCS met those requirements with its programs.

This is the first time the retailer has gone on a statewide tour to roll out the grants to recipients.

Other winners so far include:
  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of Lake & Sumter Counties, Inc., Leesburg ($50,000);
  • Catholic Charities of Central Florida Inc., Orlando ($75,000);
  • Coalition for the Homes of Central Florida, Orlando ($50,000);
  • Community Food Bank of Citrus County, Crystal River ($50,000);
  • Promise Inc., West Melbourne ($25,000);
  • The Society of Saint Andrew, Inc., Orlando ($30,000); and
  • We Care Food Pantry, Inc., Homosassa ($85,000). 
Charities can apply for a grant by filling out an online application through the foundation’s website. Applicants must have a current  501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in order to meet the program’s minimum funding criteria.

For Good: Private school for underprivileged to open in Tampa in 2016

Lower income, inner city youth in the Tampa Bay region will have another option for private education as Cristo Rey High School gets ready to open in 2016. The private school, whose model exists in several other cities around the country, will open its doors to students grades 9 through 12, in an effort to give them the best education possible.

“The Cristo Rey model offers a rigorous academic program,” says Jim Madden, feasibility study coordinator for Cristo Rey. “We also see a high graduation rate among our students, but more importantly seniors who graduate from the program have over a 97-percent college acceptance rate.”

In order to qualify for the program, Madden explains that students and their families must be at or below the federal poverty definition, and the student must be at least two years behind in school.

In addition to the scrupulous academic program, Cristo Rey also offers students an opportunity to get a taste of the job world.

“Five days a month the students will go out and work in a white-collar job at a number of companies in the area,” Madden says. “The money that gets earned by the student gets put towards their tuition.”

As for tuition, Cristo Rey is funded through fundraising campaigns and private donors. Richard Gonzmart, president and CEO of Columbia Restaurant Corporation, donated $10,000 back in April to help get the program started, and has pledged a total of $100,000 to the program.

“Cristo Rey requires that you fundraise or have pledges in the amount of $2.5 million dollars, plus whatever it costs to renovate the facility in order to get approval,” Madden says.

Just this past week, Cristo Rey Tampa received that approval.

A total of 27 corporate work partners have pledged jobs, including Columbia Restaurant Corporation. Madden says families are also expected to pay $500 a month in tuition in order to help fund their child’s education.

“I spent 36 years in the Pinellas County school system, and one of the things that is so important is to increase the graduation rate,” Madden says. “If you look at the graduation rate of certain demographics compared to those in Cristo Rey, you will see that the model works.”

Cristo Rey Tampa will open its doors August 2016, and will be located at the campus of Mary Help of Christians Center situated at 6400 East Chelsea Street in Tampa.

For more information, or to donate to the cause, visit the Cristo Rey website

For Good: Nonprofit teaches art to adults with disabilities

Imagine a place where adults with developmental disabilities can express themselves through the arts with no judgment while making money doing it. This innovative concept is a reality at Pyramid Inc., a Florida nonprofit organization that engages its students in a unique art program.

Pyramid Inc., which has five locations around the state including the one in Tampa, serves adults with severe disabilities including cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome and spina bifida.

“Pyramid in Tampa serves 150 students a day,” says Andrea Ames, Director of Pyramid Inc. “We don’t focus on their disabilities, we focus on their abilities.''

From singing and dancing to pottery and painting, the organization teaches the adult students a number of crafts that allow them to express themselves, and even make money.

“We do a lot of fundraising to support our program, including two major shows a year, which are performances where our students sing and dance, as well as an art show,” Ames says.  Students get paid for their performances, and any artwork that is sold, the student gets half of the proceeds.”

The next Pyramid show is July 26th at the University Community Area Center situated at 14013 N. 22nd St. in Tampa. The art show starts at 2 p.m. and curtain call is at 3 p.m. Admission is free, however, donations are welcome.

Another fundraiser for the organization is a monthly art walk.

“Every month we are a part of the Seminole Heights First Friday Gallery Walk, which runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.,” Ames says. “It gives people an opportunity to see what our students are working on, and again whatever artwork sells, the student who made it gets half the proceeds.”

Pyramid serves adults with developmental disabilities who are at least 22-years-old, and Ames says most students get funding through the Medicaid waiver program, which is specific to people with developmental disabilities.

For those interested in helping this cause, Ames says there is plenty the community can do to help.

“We are always looking for volunteers, right now people who know about animation and digital art, as that is an area where we would like to expand the program. Also, donations of art and office supplies are needed. Donations are always welcome too. We have students who would just love to have a friend, so a volunteer who is willing to just help and be there would be great.”

For Good: Family Promise opens services center for homeless in Pinellas County

Homeless Pinellas County families with children now have another resource to help them achieve financial independence.

Family Promise of Pinellas County (FPPC) opened its Day Center in April, enrolling select families who seek employment, housing and social services.

“This Day Center is an example of what can happen when a community comes together for the greater good,” says Debbie Nash, FPPC director. 

Widespread collaboration has been invaluable in establishing the Family Promise branch in Pinellas, Nash says. With partners like Habitat for Humanity, which pledged to renovate the space, and private individuals , who are supplementing project supply costs, the common goal is to eradicate homelessness.

Twenty local faith-based congregations have committed to participate. By housing program families at various places of worship, Family Promise is able to allocate 85 percent of raised funds toward assisting children and their parents. The organization employs few individuals and relies heavily on volunteers.

The Day Center serves as “home base” for program families and is a place of intensive case management, a permanent address for participants and a bus stop for children. Participants in the program typically gain sustainable independence within 63 days. The Pinellas location at 6201 22nd Ave. N. in St. Petersburg is the 190th affiliate of Family Promise, a national organization with a 75 percent success rate in keeping families from returning to the streets. 

Children are a focal point of the program. While some shelters separate families based on age, Family Promise keeps the families together. Children are also encouraged to volunteer within the organization.

“Thanks to the collective generosity of professionals and members of the community of all ages, we will be able to give a ‘hand up’ instead of a ‘hand out’ here in Pinellas County,’” says Nash.

To learn more about Family Promise of Pinellas County, register for upcoming events or volunteer, visit the organization’s website

For Good: Paddleboard event brings awareness to pediatric cancer

The fifth annual local "Paddle Against Cancer'' event takes place on May 23rd, with a new focus this year on pediatric cancer awareness. Proceeds of the event will go to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa.

Deanna Turner got involved with the event in response to her son's disease. Their family's experience with cancer started with warts and legions around her son Dominic’s face and ears, which she initially tried to treat with over-the-counter remedies. Soon her son’s peers took notice and he was bullied for his appearance. The seemingly innocent warts and legions that popped up in 2010 would lead to a devastating prognosis in 2015: a rare blood-related form of advanced melanoma.  

"Over the years I was looking on the Internet trying to find something to help my son, but now I’m at the end of the road with no options,'' Turner says. "The more money we make with events like this, the more chances we have to get funding to give my son a normal life.''

While Turner says Moffitt has done everything they can do for her son, only 4 percent of funds for cancer research go toward pediatric funding, which is why this year's event will focus on pediatric cancer awareness.

Cancer Survivor Gene Evans, who founded the Paddle Against Cancer event, says he started the event because he wanted to give back to Moffitt Cancer Center after all they had done for him.

"We are so fortunate to have Moffitt Cancer Center in our own backyard,'' Evans says. "It's one of the top cancer centers in the country. It's such a benefit to have them so close, for those to be treated in the morning, and come back in the afternoon to recover on their own couch or bed, we cannot take it for granted.''

Evans says it is time to shed light on pediatric cancer. He personally knows several children battling cancer and wants to raise funds to help them.

"So far this event has raised over a $100,000,'' he says. "I look forward to seeing how much we can raise this year.''

The event on May 23rd will include a 3- and 7- mile paddleboard along Treasure Island followed by a party with bands from noon to 4 p.m. For more information visit the event website.  

For Good: Grassroots charity helps children in school

After years of watching children go to school in clothes that did not fit, shoes with holes in the soles and no sweaters on cold mornings, a group of women in Tampa decided they could help. A grassroots effort was started, and soon the Oasis Network was born, a charity that has been helping children since 2001.

Earlier this year, Oasis opened its fourth location, this one serving the rural Seffner community.

‘We partnered with the Hillsborough County school district, so all of our locations are at school district sites,’ says Ginger Bean, Executive Director for the Oasis Network. ‘We specifically partner with the school social workers who identify students in need. ‘

Once a child is identified, the social worker meets with the family, finds out what the needs are, writes down the sizes of the child, and then goes to "shop'' at one of the Oasis locations.

"We have everything laid out so that the social workers can quickly 'shop', even though everything is free,'' she says.

According to Bean, the nonprofit is privately funded and runs on a budget of approximately $100,000 a year.

"The school district provides a site for us at no charge,'' she says. "The biggest ticket item in our budget is uniform clothing, because half of the elementary schools require the students to wear uniforms.''

For those interested in helping the cause, Bean says there is plenty to do to contribute.

"The best way the community can help is to donate their gently used youth-sized clothing at one of our two collection bins,'' she says. "We have partnered with the South Tampa YMCA on Himes Avenue and the New Tampa YMCA on Compton Drive in Tampa Palms. We are always in need of youth sizes 4-16 for boys and girls, the items we are looking for are T-shirts that are appropriate for school, as well as shorts. 

Another way that people can help is to host a collection drive in their neighborhood, church or school. Bean says even students have hosted clothing drives.

Monetary donations, as well as volunteer inquiries, can be made through the nonprofit's website

For Good: Recycled bike shop wins $1,000 Awesome Tampa Bay grant

$1,000 to the most innovative idea? Four times a year, Tampa Bay residents have the chance to apply for just that.

Awesome Tampa Bay grants are something like mini-angel investors in innovative local ideas. The self-funded community of members who make up Awesome Tampa Bay offer quarterly microgrants in the sum of $1,000 to various projects or proposed ventures with no strings attached.

The group, a chapter of The Awesome Foundation, “funds projects that help make our community an awesome place to live,” says Awesome Tampa Bay’s “Dean of Awesomeness” Rafaela A. Amador. “We’re in our fourth year of grant-making, and it’s been fantastic to see them come to life.”

Previous Awesome Tampa Bay grants have funded Pong in the ParkArt Vending Machine, The Birdhouse Buying Club, and other ideas or efforts to improve the “awesome” factor of the Tampa Bay area.

The latest recipient of a $1,000 grant from the group is the ReCycle Bin, a free bike shop built from entirely recycled parts and filled with entirely donated ones.

ReCycle Bin “touched on three qualities that the Awesome Foundation trustees thought most important: niceness, bigness and 'wow-ness,' ” says Amador, who is the senior director of corporate communications for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The ReCycle Bin operates out of two revamped shipping containers built by volunteers and is “full of donated frames, parts, and tools that are used to build and fix bicycles for our poor neighbors,” explains founder Jessica Renner.

But the ReCycle Bin doesn’t give bikes or parts away freely with no questions asked, Renner explains. Rather, self-reliance and involvement in rebuilding or repairing bicycles is a part of the process.

“Those who are in need of a bike or help with their existing bike are being taught how to build and maintain their bikes themselves,” Renner says.

The ReCycle Bin stations are located at The Well in Ybor City, a center for social services including weekly meals, counseling, a free market, and faith. Work is split among a variety of volunteers: some of whom perform as a labor of love, some who enjoy tinkering with the bikes, and some who “originally came in to build themselves a bike, and now come back to help others,” Renner explains.

That those who have been helped come back to help others is one sign that the ReCycle Bin is a success. The group’s main objective is “to develop relationships across economic divides and build a stronger community, based on sharing skills and resources,” Renner says. 

The passion to help the community through the donation of time and talent by Jessica and all the volunteers with ReCycle Bin was what stood out the most,” Amador explains. “It was a unanimous decision by the trustees to award them the Awesome grant.”

With the $1,000 Awesome Tampa Bay grant money, the ReCycle Bin will “purchase a tent or a carport for our shop, so we will have our own shaded work space,” Renner says. 

Currently, “we are working to gain more volunteers, potentially hold some workshops, and put together a regular bike ride calendar for our bike club, The Well's Angels,” Brenner says.

The Well’s Angels. Now that’s awesome. 
 
Do you have a great idea or project that would help make Tampa Bay more “awesome”? Apply for the next quarterly grant by May 31. 

For Good: Donate online during Give Day Tampa Bay

Can Give Day Tampa Bay top $1 million in donations in 2015?

The inaugural Give Day Tampa Bay brought in just over $1 million for local nonprofits in 2014, and sponsors of the upcoming Give Day Tampa Bay on May 5, 2015, hope to see even more generosity spread throughout the local community during the second annual “24 hours of giving.”

Led by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Florida Next Foundation, Give Day Tampa Bay challenges locals to participate in a 24-hour online giving event. In 2014, more than 5,000 individuals donated to the inaugural Give Day Tampa Bay campaign to bring awareness to more than 350 nonprofits who do work in the local community. This year, more than 500 nonprofits are participating.

Debra Campbell, an educator and serial entrepreneur with a background in economic development, founded Tampa-based Forward Thinking Initiatives in 2004 with the aim of bridging education and workforce development. The nonprofit’s entrepreneurship programs for middle- and high-school teens aim to create a more competitive emerging workforce through a focus on creative thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. 

One of the reasons Campbell chose to get involved with Give Day Tampa Bay is to help raise community awareness about local nonprofits. ““It’s a wonderful concept to promote all the good work that's going on in Tampa Bay,” she says. “I think the community is not aware of the vast number of services and programs available.”

There are dozens of nonprofits available to choose for a donation, including Big Cat Rescue, Tampa Bay Conservancy, Carrollwood Players Theatre, Lights On Tampa, Stageworks Theatre, the Straz Center, and All Children’s Hospital, to name a few. Find the complete list of 543 participating nonprofits at the Give Day Tampa Bay online donation site

Goals of the annual event include enlisting new donors and helping nonprofits learn new online giving and outreach skills. Funds raised can help nonprofits access resources and training that they can then use year-round to promote their work and engage their supporters.

“It’s always difficult for nonprofits to raise dollars, especially unrestricted dollars,” Campbell says. “This is an opportunity for each organization to benefit from a joint marketing program that is so well organized by Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and the Florida Next Foundation.”

Give Day Tampa Bay starts at midnight on May 4 and runs for 24 hours. Donations can be completed from any smartphone, tablet or computer using a credit or debit card, with a minimum donation is $25. 
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