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International Trade : For Good

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For Good: Art Extravaganza features artwork to benefit Haiti

This weekend, South Tampa Artist Donna Morrison is hosting The 2016 Art Extravaganza, an annual art show aimed at holiday shopping, and for the first time including a raffle to benefit Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Morrison has long been involved with Village Partners International (VPI), a Tampa-based nonprofit, which provides medical and other services to Haiti and other impoverished “world villages.” All proceeds will go to VPI. 

Tickets are five dollars apiece for a chance to win an original 15” x 22” watercolor painting by Morrison, entitled Purple Passion #1, valued at $1,500. The show takes place October 27-29, 2016 and includes works from well-known ceramic, woodworking, photography and jewelry artists.

“I like things that have multiple good outcomes,” says Morrison. “I love having a raffle because it involves a lot of people, spreads the word, somebody gets a great painting, and Village Partners gets money to be sent to Haiti.”

In addition to the over $72,000 VPI already spends annually supporting a hospital and Mobile Clinic in Haiti, the devastation caused by the recent hurricane has meant new and urgent challenges. The all-volunteer organization is currently trying to raise funds to build wells for clean water and for nutrition support in the northwest sector, which has had significant increase in cholera outbreak as well as malnutrition and lack of clean water, according to Tampa surgeon Dr. Sylvia Campbell who runs the nonprofit and has been doing mission work in Haiti and Uganda since 1996.

“Haiti is a country that has been steeped in so much tragedy,” says Campbell. “Every dollar that is given to VPI goes to help those in need. We are all volunteers, and do this mission out of our hearts. Fundraisers like this help support the cause, both in dollars and awareness. … Each dollar can change a life.”

Campbell says Village Partners International has a vision “what we call the 3 ‘C’s” – connect, commit and continue. VPI has been operational since 2007, though the founders had been involved in similar work largely through the Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church for years. In addition to its work in Haiti, the organization is active in rural Uganda and has partnered with Beth-El Farmworker Mission, supporting migrant workers in Wimauma, Florida.   

For more information on the Art Extravaganza and chance to win a painting, you can email Donna Morrison,  or you can make a direct donation to VPI through its website.

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.  

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.
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