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Neighborhoods : For Good

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West Tampa's Armory Gardens to hold Safety, Security and Fun Festival

Public safety and security is top of mind lately, as we grapple with tragedies like the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida. Such events are especially frightening when they target children, though the frequency of all domestic mass shootings is troubling on a broader level.

To that point, over 30 exhibitors from law enforcement, fire and rescue, and other governmental agencies will convene for a festival of safety, security, and fun, to allow local families and children to meet those who work every day to keep them safe.

Armory Gardens Civic Association, a part of greater West Tampa, will partner with the Tampa Police Department to host this fun and practical event for all ages Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Vila Brothers Park. The park is situated at 700 North Armenia Avenue, across the street from the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, a few blocks north of Kennedy Boulevard. Entry is free.

The goal of the event is twofold: to increase kids’ familiarity with uniformed men and women from the various entities they may encounter, and to increase their confidence in approaching these officials should the need arise.

A key feature of the event will be a free fingerprinting and DNA kit for children, as part of the Florida Masonic Child ID Program. Other activities will include a 9-1-1 simulator booth, Tampa Police Department special operations demonstration, Tampa Fire Rescue fire truck, and several recreational activities for children.

The Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative book mobile will be in attendance as well.

The festival will also function as a fundraiser for Armory Gardens’ proposed improvements to Vila Brothers Park, which include more tree cover and shade, landscaping, and an irrigation system to support the new greenery. The civic association will sell food and beverages to benefit this effort, and will have a 50/50 charitable drawing.

Further down the road, the association hopes to construct a pavilion over the monument honoring the seven Vila Brothers, each of whom were veterans of the U.S. military and Tampa natives, and for whom the park is dedicated.

For more information about the Safety, Security & Fun festival, please visit the Armory Gardens Tampa Civic Association Facebook page.

Treasure Tampa offers $30K for local placemaking project

The Tampa-based Gobioff Foundation, a private family philanthropic organization supporting creative placemaking in Tampa, has launched its second round of funding for artistic endeavors that help create a sense of place and spur economic development in a neighborhood.

The Foundation will accept letters of interest through January 15 for its Treasure Tampa (T²) initiative, which will award $30,000 to one or more projects.

The goal of Treasure Tampa is to “increase the visibility of the arts,” says Neil Gobioff, the foundation’s president. “It’s not a tourism-centric thing,” he explains. “I prefer to think of it as highlighting the arts, and what is in Tampa already, to the people that already are here.”

Treasure Tampa is designed to inspire more creative placemaking, or the use of arts- and culture-based projects to help revitalize communities. “It is primarily an arts thing,” he says. “Creative placemaking can encompass much more than just the arts.”

Ideally a proposal would address a community issue through a collaborative effort that involves local residents. “It’s a lot different than just someone wanting to put up a piece of public art in an affluent neighborhood. That’s not what the funds are for,” he says.

Last year’s winner, the University Area Community Development Corporation, won “because of their connection to the community they are serving,” he points out, and because they engaged several partners in a collaborative effort to create participatory activities and events. 83 Degrees served as a media partner, for example.

“The community was heavily involved in the design and creation and installation of the art that was put in the Harvest Hope Park,” he says. “All the community was involved from Day One.”

Each proposal must be for a project within the city of Tampa or within the neighborhood served by the University Area CDC. It needs to involve a nonprofit organization, either as the executor of the project or as a fiscal agent. It also must involve a collaboration between at least two of these sectors -- public, private, or nonprofit.

It is likely one applicant will receive the $30,000, although multiple lower amount awards possibly may be given. “Most of the applications come in seeking the full $30,000,” he says.

The online application process is a little bit different this year. “One of the big changes this year is we shifted the timeline,” Gobioff says. “This way they’re not rushing to get it out right before the holidays, or during the holidays.”

The first round of the application process is less indepth than subsequent ones, he says. Letters of interest will be screened by a panel of artists, curators and business leaders. Then some submitters will be invited to make a full application by March 28. The winner or winners will be notified May 1 and have six months from then to begin the project; the funds should be used within a year.

“Some of these projects can be an ongoing project,” he explains.

This is the second year for the program inspired by a benefit for ArtPlace America, a cooperative endeavor aimed at strengthening communities by integrating arts and culture in community planning and development.

“The funding is only one aspect of it,” he says. “We also hold the educational events.”

The foundation, started by Gobioff’s brother Howard shortly before his death from cancer in 2008, also supports human rights and civil liberties causes globally.

A ribbon cutting and art unveiling Friday, December 15, commemorated the improvements at Harvest Hope Park at 13704 N. 20th St., Tampa. The event culminated with a Community Block Party.

With the community garden, playground and artwork installed, University Area CDC is proceeding with the project’s second phase, to include multi-purpose sports field, sidewalks, lighting and parking, says Nestor Ortiz, the organization’s chief programs officer.

Those improvements are scheduled for completion in 2018, he says.

Learn more about Treasure Tampa (T²) by visiting current projects on the Gobioff Foundation website.


Do you love to work with kids? Encore Tampa Bay is recruiting volunteers

Tampa Bay is one of 16 communities nationwide that is piloting a grassroots program aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable children. Called Generation to Generation, the program mobilizes older adults, who share their talents and experience.

“The goal of the national campaign is to mobilize over 1 million adults in the next five years to serve in any kind of role helping kids,” says Bevan Rogel, Executive Director of Encore Tampa Bay, a nonprofit initiative working under the umbrella of Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

The adults may read to children, or be a mentor or friend. “We think it’s a match made in heaven,” she says. “We think it’s going to be a good thing for the community.”

Encore Tampa Bay is part of a larger movement of Baby Boomers, who are realizing in their 50s and 60s or beyond that they want to do something more with their life: they want an encore. They want to use their skills and talents. That may mean starting a new business, volunteering, using a skill in new ways, or starting another career.

“Older people realize they can live the life that they’ve always wanted to live, instead of doing what was expected of them,” she says.

When they retire or become empty nesters, seniors aren’t always sure what they want to do. “Older adults say they want to do something to help kids, but they don’t always know where to go,” she says.

Generation to Generation, an Encore initiative, gives adults a chance to discover what they’d like to do, while sharing the depths of their experiences with young people. “It’s a learning lab. We’re trying different things,” she says. “It’s not just a call for social action. It’s really looking at going deep within different communities.”

Generation to Generation will be working with community centers, neighborhood associations, libraries, retired teachers, alumni, corporate groups and clubs to identify ways to help children through partnerships.

Encore Tampa Bay is recruiting both partners who work with older adults -- and older adults to work with children starting in January. It is partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, Metropolitan Ministries, R’Club Child Care, Inc., and United Way Suncoast in the two-year program.

“We can’t do this alone. We need organizations,” she says. “People who are in front of older adults all the time.”

Initially the program is targeting three areas: Wimauma, Tampa Heights and South St. Petersburg.

Volunteer leadership roles are available in multiple areas including marketing, storytelling, evaluation, community outreach and ambassadorship.

Ultimately, the goal of Generation to Generation is to expand beyond the older and younger sets. So, there won’t be any “carding” if younger adults want to lend a helping hand, Rogel says.

“Our bigger effort is to involve all generations in helping kids,” she says.


Head Start moving into Lee Davis Center

Head Start will re-open in a refurbished Lee Davis Community Resource Center in Tampa on May 30, becoming the first one-stop shop center for Head Start and Hillsborough County social services for all ages.

The innovative center will house two state-of-the-art Head Start classrooms with smart boards, or large boards used with reading software, and will accommodate 40 children ages 3 to 5, says Mimi Jefferson, Manager of Education Administration.

Its administrative staff also will be on site at 3402 N. 22 St. Kiosks in front will let visitors access social service and Head Start applications.

“It will be open to the public also to come in and do after-hours activities,” says Dr. Jacquelyn Jenkins, Head Start Department Director.

Parents can enroll eligible children for Head Start online. The program runs from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday year round.

Head Start is relocating to Lee Davis from the West Tampa Head Start Center at 1129 W. Main St., where it was inside the Tampa Housing Authority. About six staff members will be moving as well.

Audrey Ziegler, Director of Hillsborough County’s Social Services Department, says Lee Davis hopefully will serve as a model for multi-purpose uses “under one roof.”

“At Lee Davis, we will have Head Start, Aging Services, Social Services and Healthy Living. We will also be having a Public Library Computer Lab,” she says.

Flexible meeting space also is planned.

The new Healthy Living space will serve center clients and Hillsborough County HealthCare plan enrollees with exercise programs, exercise equipment, health education classes, nutrition consultation, mobile health screenings and more, says Gene Early Jr. Department Director for the county’s Health Care Services Department.

“The program will emphasize preventive health, disease management, weight loss, mental health early intervention, health education, nutrition and physical exercise and movement, offering these residents information and options to help them live healthier lives,” he adds.

Healthy Living program facilities, also anticipated for the South Shore and Plant City communities, are scheduled to open later in the summer.

A grand opening of the newly renovated Lee Davis center is anticipated in August, when all tenants were expected to be on site, Ziegler adds.

Renovations at Lee Davis, built in 1986, have been under way since 2016. The facility has remained open during the refurbishing, which cost nearly $2.9 million.

While Lee Davis will be the first facility to house Head Start along with Social Services, Ziegler says, the Town and Country facility does offer multiple services including Head Start, plus aging and library services.  

County officials are trying to customize the one-stop shop concept in other areas of the county to minimize travel for its constituents.

“It wouldn’t be a one size fits all if we really speak to different pockets in our community,” Ziegler says.

At Lee Davis, the county offers homeless prevention services, including assistance with rent and utilities, to eligible individuals. It also connects residents to social services case managers for job placement and adult education.


For Good: Ex-offenders to build tiny homes with Big Idea Grant funds

An established, ex-offender re-entry organization, looking to build tiny homes in South St. Petersburg, has won a $50,000 Big Idea Grant awarded by the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

The Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-entry Coalition won the award for its Second Chance Tiny House Manufacturing Company, which will train people coming out of jails and prisons for construction jobs, says Wilma Norton, the Foundation’s VP of Marketing and Communications.

There were 31 applications for the award that promotes self sufficiency. It is the second time the Community Foundation has offered the grant.

They’ve got partnerships with a host of people and a revenue stream to pay for the continuing cost of operation, but they need startup costs,” Norton says of PERC, which plans to build and sell tiny houses to private citizens and local government.

Michael Jalazo, PERC’s CEO/Executive Director, says the organization was “grateful and humble” to receive the award. He expects to have the first tiny house up by June.

“We’d like to see the tiny house movement take off,” he adds.

With the grant, Jalazo is looking to build at least eight tiny homes on land cleared by abandoned and condemned homes, most of them in South St. Petersburg. It is prepared to “ramp up” efforts and build even more as funds are available, he says.

In the process, he hopes to keep the ex-offenders out of jail and prison, while providing homes for the homeless.

PERC already has been given housing plans. It also has scoped out a possible location for construction: the old Lealman Fire Station.

Big Idea Grant finalists were Arriba Transportation, proposed by Enterprising Latinas of Wimauma, and Evergreen Life Services, which proposed to teach basic skills to the disabled through virtual-reality technology.

The foundation will continue to work with the finalists and other applicants to gain funding, Norton says.

In 2015, two donors came up with an extra $50,000 apiece so three non-profits could proceed with their projects.

Arriba Transportation is seeking to provide six bus routes, seven days a week, to the Wimauma/Ruskin area using 15-seat vans. Its goal is to take riders to work and school, as well as connecting them to a Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) bus route.

“We know instances where people have paid $200 to go to the Mexican Counselate in Orlando. ...” says Liz Gutierrez, the organization’s Founder and CEO. “People in this community pay $65 to get to Tampa General. We can change that.”

Evergreen Life Services offers a variety of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Its social enterprise, HEAVENDROPt, is located in St. Petersburg, where it creates new products with parachutes used by U.S. veterans.


Collaborative arts project in University area neighborhood wins 1st placemaking grant

University Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) has been awarded a grant of $30,000 as part of the Tampa-based Gobioff Foundation’s Treasure Tampa (T²) initiative. The grant will facilitate community-led public art installations, called Art in the Park, to be integrated into the Harvest Hope Park. The groundbreaking for the park will launch March 8, 2017 and more specific plans for the public art will be announced at that time.   

“Public art is key, allowing residents not just creative placemaking but building a community while doing so,” says Sarah Combs, CEO and Executive Director of University Area CDC

The art installations will be a joint effort with residents and artists at the park working together on the concept and rollout. The local artists involved -- Junior Polo, Vivian Fisk, Marisol Vazquez -- also residents of the University Area, will work with the community to determine the final plan and design.  

The University Area is “a very transient community, but very culturally diverse,” says Combs. She says it is important that “the art chosen is a representation of the diversity” and hopes the public art will contribute to transforming the neighborhood from a “place they stay, to a place they call home.”

The Harvest Hope Park will be a 7-acre park in the heart of the University Area with a multipurpose sports area, a tilapia pond for fishing, community garden, teaching kitchen, playground, and the public art made possible by the Gobioff grant. 

“The vision we have for this park is not only for residents to enjoy, but to meet each other, know their neighbors, build those relationships,” says Combs “Art is just so essential to this. Studies show it is tied to social economic status in terms of improvement,” she continues, noting that there is no public art in the area nor playgrounds. The CDC’s mission and vision is to improve the area through a number of improvements -- infrastructure, education, after-school programming, etc. -- creating a collaborative network of support, advanced by and led by residents. 

The Gobioff Foundation's Tampa Treasure (T²) facilitates creative placemaking in Tampa through education, collaboration and funding. T² is an initiative of the Gobioff Foundation, a private family foundation which supports the Tampa arts community as well as human rights organizations nationally and globally. This was the first competitive grant awarded by the Tampa Treasure initiative.

As part of the grant award, the University Area CDC will partner with WMNF-FM to produce resident engagement events as part of its Urban Cafe´ segment and 83 Degrees Media will produce feature stories about the project. 

For Good: Pedal through downtown Tampa, along Bayshore Boulevard in Winter Wonder Ride

Downtown Tampa may be one of the warmest places to be during the wintertime, but Bay area bicyclists are prepared to "get frosty" when they hit the streets for a cool cause at the sixth annual Winter Wonder Ride taking place this weekend (Dec. 10).  

The Winter Wonder Ride is the largest event hosted by onbikes, a nonprofit organization that partners with corporate sponsors and local governments to throw bicycling events that support the organization's mission of providing bikes for at-risk youth and foster kids.

Onbikes Executive Director and co-Founder Julius Tobin says that what started as an idea among his friends to simply take a bike ride on a sunny Saturday in 2011 quickly grew in ways the group never expected.

"It occurred to us that none of us had been on bikes in a really long time, so we took a sort of random adventure -- and we realized how cool it was. It unleashed the kid in us, and from there we thought, 'let's try to do something good with this.' We realized there was probably a big audience who would love to participate in it. We just didn't realize how big it would become."

On Saturday, (December 10), onbikes invites riders to join them at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park as they embark on the Winter Wonder Ride along The Tampa Riverwalk and Bayshore Boulevard before returning to the park for a post-ride celebration. (Motorized traffic will be temporarily rerouted along South Tampa streets from approximately 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) Last year's Winter Wonder Ride had approximately 2,500 participants. Tobin says onbikes expects at least 3,000 people for this year's ride. 

There may not be snow on the ground, but this year's Winter Wonder Ride theme is "Get Frosty" -- giving Floridians an excuse to don their best snowman gear, including but not limited to: scarves, top hats and snowflake-themed attire. onbikes highly encourages participants in the Winter Wonder Ride to dress in costume to spread holiday cheer as they pedal the streets of downtown Tampa -- or risk being "the only one dressed like a normal person" among a pack of bicycling snowmen.

"It's a pretty unique opportunity to be on the road with such a big group of people in general -- but 3,000 people dressed up like snowmen, gingerbread people, Santa Claus and elves is incredible. It really lets you lose your facade and just enjoy being in the moment. Everyone gets to be a kid again," says Tobin.

Rapper Big Boi (best known for his role as half of the Grammy-winning hip hop duo Outkast) headlines this year's Winter Wonder Ride celebration, promising a jubilant post-ride dance party at the park, with food and beverages available for purchase from local vendors. This year's Winter Wonder Ride will include an overnight bike valet, ensuring that bicyclists can enjoy the post-ride celebration and libations without having to worry about their bikes -- as long as they are retrieved by 11 a.m. the following day (Sunday). 

Tickets to the Winter Wonder Ride start at $50, with all proceeds geared toward the purchase of new bikes for at-risk youth and foster kids in the Tampa Bay area this holiday season. 

The organization's other big holiday extravaganza, the 'Santa's Bike Shop' Bike Build took place on Dec. 4th at Amalie Arena, in partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Flying Fish Bikes. At Santa's Bike Shop, professional bike technicians from Flying Fish and approximately 600 volunteer helpers -- the bike workshop 'elves' -- teamed up to assemble 800 bikes in nine hours. 

Tobin says that 400 of the bikes will go to Eckerd College to distribute to foster kids in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Tampa Police Department's bike division will also receive 300 bikes to distribute to local kids. Metropolitan Ministries will receive the remaining 100 bikes to distribute for Heroes Day and to establish a fleet for a free bike share program on campus. 

To date, Tobin estimates that onbikes has provided bikes for approximately 3,000 kids in the Tampa Bay area with the help of the organization's sponsors, partners and volunteers from the local community who join the annual rides and bike builds. 

"We know that giving a bike to a kid isn't a unique or new idea. We just put a fun spin on it," says Tobin. 

Take a spin through downtown Tampa with onbikes for the most festive bicycle parade of the season. Visit the Onbikes website to purchase tickets to the Winter Wonder Ride.

For Good: Beth-El Farmworker Ministry celebrates 40 years in Wimauma

To read this story in Spanish, please follow this link.

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Beth-El Farmworker Ministry Inc. is hosting a symposium on Nov. 5 that is designed to address daily struggles for farmworkers, including topics such as human trafficking, fair salaries, health and well-being.
 
The event will take place at the Beth-El Farmworker Ministry facilities at 18240 U.S. Highway 301 South in Wimauma.
 
Kathleen Dain, Executive Director of Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, says the celebration will honor the Tampa Bay area’s farmworkers whose labor is physically intensive and financially challenging.
 
“The majority of crops in Florida are picked by hand and require the individual labor of the farmworker, but farmworkers receive wages based on the quantity of crops picked,” Dain explains. 

A farmworker who picks tomatoes, for example, receives an average wage of one or two cents per pound picked, and is expected to pick 4,000 pounds daily, which is the equivalent of boxes stacked eight floors in height. For that labor, the farmworker is paid between $40-$80 a day.
 
“Most farmworkers work seven months each year, following the crops in their seasons (across the nation.) The work is very demanding with long hours and frequently under harsh conditions,” according to the letter of invitation to join Beth-El’s 40th anniversary celebration. 

The celebration will conclude with a dinner in which Beth-El’s history will be recounted and its future plans revealed.
 
During four decades, Beth-El Farmworker Ministry has provided food and clothing for needy farmworker families in Wimauma. It also provides legal aid and health services and serves, on average, 600 families weekly. 

“Every day we have fruits and vegetables on our table that have come from the farmworker’s hard labor -- even though those same fruits and vegetables may not easily make it onto their own tables,” Dain says.

For sponsorship opportunities, click here.

Para bien: Beth-El Farmworker Ministry celebra 40 aņos de servicio en Wimauma

To read this story in English, please follow this link.

A través del tiempo la misión Beth-El Farmworker Ministry se ha convertido en una fuente de apoyo para los trabajadores del campo en Wimauma y la misión se dispone a celebrar sus logros desde su establecimiento en 1976.

Para la celebración de sus 40 años, la misión ha organizado un simposio para el 5 de noviembre acerca de la vida y los retos que a diario enfrentan a los trabajadores del campo con temas desde tráfico humano, salarios justos, salud y bienestar. El evento se llevará a cabo en las instalaciones de la misión ubicada en el 18240 Highway 301 South en Wimauma.

Para Kathleen Dain, directora ejecutiva de Beth-El, la oportunidad de celebrar 40 años de misión es la oportunidad de honrar a los trabajadores agrícolas cuya labor es intensa y económicamente retadora.
“La mayoría de los cultivos en Florida son cosechados a mano y requieren el trabajo individual del agricultor, pero los trabajadores reciben su pago en base a la cantidad que puedan pizcar”, comenta Dain.

Un trabajador que pizca tomates recibe entre uno o dos centavos por libra y se espera que pizque 4,000 libras diarias, el equivalente a ocho pisos de altura y en dinero a entre $40 dólares a $80 por todo el día de intensa labor.

“La mayoría de los agricultores trabajan siete meses del año, siguiendo los cultivos de la estación. El trabajo es altamente demandante, trabajando largas horas y con frecuencia en condiciones inclementes”, indica la invitación especial de los 40 años de Beth-El.

La celebración cerrará con una cena en la que se hablará sobre la historia de la misión y se abordarán planes para el futuro.
Durante cuatro décadas, el ministerio ha proveído comida para los trabajadores agrícolas, ropa para quienes la necesitan, asistencia legal y de salud. La misión atiende a 600 familias por semana.

“Todos los días tenemos frutas y verduras en nuestra mesa producto del trabajo de agricultores, pero difícilmente esas mismas frutas y verduras llegan a sus propias mesas”, comenta Dain.

Para oportunidades de patrocinio haga clic aquí.

For Good: St. Pete free clinic to help 200 needy senior citizens with grant funding

The St. Petersburg Free Clinic has received a grant, which will provide food to senior citizens in south and mid-Pinellas County.

The Hearty Homes program is just one of the many programs the free clinic offers needy citizens. Armed with a $20,000 grant from Clearwater-based Senior Citizens Services, Inc., the clinic can now provide food assistance to more than 200 elderly residents.

While most seniors in need are able to access meals through community centers on weekdays, there is a need for services on the weekend. The Hearty Homes programs provides food for the elderly to take home with them once they leave the center.

“We bring the food to the community centers where the seniors are already beina transported for lunches,” says Beth Houghton, Executive Director for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. “Their driver takes them back to where they live, gives them their food and even helps them get the food up to their apartment.”

To qualify for the program, seniors must be considered food insecure, meaning they lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food. Also, they must have few or no options for transportation. Houghton reiterates the importance of providing nutritious food for the seniors.

“As we get into the holidays, there are a lot of food drives, which is a great,” she says. “However it's important to remember that some of the people receiving the food have restrictions. For our food bank, we are looking for donations that are low-sugar, low-sodium and low-fat. Things you might buy for a loved one who is diabetic or has cardiac health issues.”

In addition to donating food to the free clinic's food bank, you can also help by donating money to help with the cost of delivering the food to the elderly. For more information about the clinic, and how you can help, click here.

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: 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: 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: 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.
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