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ECHO of Brandon claims top prize in social entrepreneurship

ECHO of Brandon, a charity whose mission is to end hunger in southeastern Hillsborough County, took the $25,000 grand prize in Social Venture Partners’ first Shark Tank-styled competition for social entrepreneurship in the Tampa Bay Area.

Social entrepreneurship is the use by nonprofits of the techniques that enable startup companies and other entrepreneurs to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues.

“The turnout was amazing. The energy was amazing. The teams were incredible,” says Jennifer Finney, a member of the SVP committee planning the Fast Pitch competition. “It surpassed everything that I could have imagined.”

ECHO, which provides emergency food, clothing, household items and career planning, was represented by Eleanor Saunders. Saunders explained how ECHO clients upcycle donations (clothes, curtains, leather items, etc.) into sellable products such as purses, jewelry and tablecloths. The work involved provides jobs for the clients, and sales proceeds go back into the organization's operating budget, making the nonprofit more independent financially and less dependent on government funding or charitable giving. The team was coached by Joan and George Lange.

The event attracted more than 400 to the University of Tampa on Friday, Dec. 1, to hear three-minute pitches from 13 nonprofits chosen to participate in SVP’s free, two-month accelerator and mentoring program. The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and UT partnered in the event.

The $15,000 second place prize was awarded to Wheels of Success, represented by Susan Jacobs and coached by Anne Marie Campbell and Sam Giunta, and the $10,000 third place awarded was given to Girls Empowered Mentally for Success, represented by Crystal Bailes and coached by Sheryl Hunter.

Wheels of Success is dedicated to providing transportation solutions to the needy. GEMS helps at risk elementary, middle and high school girls discover their passion, and more easily transition into productive adults.

Attendees texted into a link to choose the Audience Choice Award, which went to Starting Right, Now, represented by Vicki Sokolik and coached by Lily Jin. It received $5,000. Starting Right, Now is working to end youth homelessness in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Another $5,000 prize was given to Accelerator Award winner Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, represented by Marissa Davis and Carrie Hepburn and coached by Finney. The collaborative promotes health and wellness in vulnerable populations by addressing barriers to health and services.

“We decided to give an Accelerator Award for the team that showed up to the accelerator every time ready and eager to learn,” Finney explains.

The 13 local nonprofits were chosen from a pool of more than 50 applicants. Judging was done by Phillip E. Casey, Tom Wallace, Joe Hamilton, Rochelle Friedman-Walk and James Tully.

Other nonprofits who participated included:

  • University Area Community Development Corporation, which administers a Prodigy Cultural Arts Program to help at risk first through twelfth graders;
  • Directions for Living, which is dedicated to providing life-saving services to residents through its innovative Peanut Butter and Jelly run;
  • Bright Community Trust, whose mission is to create strong and vibrant neighborhoods;
  • Enactus at University of South Florida, an organization that helps students develop their talents and make a difference in the Tampa Bay community;
  • Just Learn, k-12 learning program that seeks to expose students to the planet’s biggest challenges like urbanization and food production;
  • Keep St. Pete Lit, an organization promoting the greater St. Petersburg literary community;
  • Inspiration Labs, the legal name for Tampa Hackerspace, where members have working space, training and tools to develop their creative projects; and
  • The Well, which runs the WellBuilt retail store that sells and repairs bicycles to fund community rides, safety workshops and sliding scale repairs.

SVP is based in Seattle; a Tampa chapter was formed in 2014.

SVP plans to make the competition an annual event, with initial work beginning in January as part of strategic planning.

“They all got incredible exposure,” Finney says. “It was really great to see everyone’s genuine interest and passion for each one of the teams.”


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.


Got $5? $10? $25? Save it for Give Day Tampa Bay online fund drive May 2nd

Members of Tampa Bay Area nonprofits and local business leaders are planning the fourth annual Give Day Tampa Bay online fundraising effort for May 2.

The one-day event is designed to cultivate new donors and encourage local Tampa Bay Area residents to make small donations to local charities and other nonprofit missions they choose to support. 

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay hosted the announcement of Give Day Tampa Bay at WEDU Studios on Feb. 15. 

The CFTB helps “donors grow, manage and direct their charitable giving,” while also working with nonprofits to understand their needs, making them something akin to being a matchmaker between donors and nonprofit organizations. 

Wilma Norton, VP of Marketing and Communications for the CFTB, who jokingly dubbed herself the Give Day Czar, spoke to the crowd of nonprofit leaders about the importance of communications between not only nonprofits and the community, but also between the nonprofits themselves.

“This is a truly good marketing opportunity for all of you. It’s about raising money, but a big part of it is about raising awareness of all the great work that you do. …It’s upon all of us to be creative and talk to each other and talk about what we do.” 

For 24 hours on May 2, people can log on to Give Day Tampa Bay’s website to make donations, and for eight hours that day WEDU will live stream programming in which nonprofit spokespersons can tell the stories and missions of their organizations.  

“It’s those stories that touch people’s hearts that have them open their wallets and their own hearts to help your cause,” says Norton. 

While more than 200 nonprofits have already signed up to participate in Give Day, organizers expect many more to continue to register. Last year 595 nonprofits earned nearly $2.1million collectively. 

One change this year will be the minimum donation allowed. In the past, the least a person could donate was $25, but in an effort to include more people, the new minimum to donate will be $5. 

“It’s a chance for everyone to be engaged, and that’s really a big part of what this is all about,” says Norton.  

For Good: American Cancer Society, Tervis team up to create Hands of Hope

Cancer affects the lives of millions of Americans each year --but it is with courageous hands that so many cancer patients and their loved ones and caregivers reach out from the darkness to touch lives, work toward a cure and inspire hope in others who are also battling the disease. 

The American Cancer Society recently announced a collaboration with Sarasota County-based insulated drinkware company, Tervis, to create an exclusive series of tumblers and water bottles with designs that feature the handprints of cancer patients and their families.

Tervis will donate 10 percent of sale proceeds to support the American Cancer Society's efforts to eliminate cancer as a major health problem through research, prevention and support for patients and their loved ones. 

The handprint design was created at the Winn Dixie Hope Lodge in Atlanta, and is intended to illustrate the lives of those who are touched by cancer: to tell the human stories behind the disease. The cup artwork depicts the handprints of cancer patients and their families arranged to form butterflies -- a symbol of hope and renewal, as well as bereavement -- that honor the lives lost to cancer and illustrate the powerful bravery and hope of those who battle the disease.

"When we met with the American Cancer Society about this project, every team member was incredibly moved by the Hands of Hope story. Tervis customers have always gotten behind our activism designs but we had been hearing lately that they wished that we had other cancer support designs beyond just the Pink Ribbon Collection for breast cancer awareness. We loved how inclusive this project was of all cancer survivors, caregivers and supporters," says Tervis president Rogan Donelly. 

Donelly notes that many in the Venice, Fla. based Tervis family have been personally affected by cancer or have supported a loved one battling the disease. He adds that over the years, Tervis has donated more than $100,000 to cancer research and local organizations, but that the partnership with the American Cancer Society is the first of its kind. 

"It was the perfect opportunity to work together to champion cancer education and research. We see this as the beginning of a long-term partnership," Donelly says. 

The 'Hands of Hope' tumblers and water bottles, as well as the Tervis 'Pink Ribbon Collection', can be purchased online and in 47 Tervis stores nationwide. 

"The American Cancer Society is grateful for the support of corporate partners such as Tervis, who have developed distinctive and creative products to encourage their customers to become involved in raising awareness and funds to end cancer," says Sharon Byers, chief development and marketing officer for the American Cancer Society. "We're excited to collaborate to increase awareness of all cancers to help end the pain and suffering caused by this disease."

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: Hungry Howies pizza hosts local events to raise money for breast cancer foundation

Pizza franchise and the National Breast Cancer Foundation team up to raise money and make services available to women battling cancer.

Hungry Howie's Pizza is hosting two local events designed to benefit the fight against breast cancer in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. “Hands of Hope” is an art mural, and will be showcased at 3073 18th Ave. S. in St. Petersburg. The public art project will feature hands representing both survivors and those who lost their battle to breast cancer. The mural will get a personal touch from the community during its dedication.

“On October 1st from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. the public is welcome to come see the mural, and dedicate a handprint to a survivor or a loved one,” says Misann Ellmaker, a spokesperson for the Love, Hope & Pizza project.

The second event is the “Love & Hope Quilt,” which is being sewn by Debbie Devine, a former Hungry Howie's store owner. The finished quilt will be up for auction, and all proceeds will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).

In addition to these local events, the pizza chain will serve all of pizzas nationwide in pink Love, Hope & Pizza boxes with the NBCF logo during the month of October. A portion of sales will be donated to NBCF.

The local events, along with the funds raised nationally for NBCF will impact local women because the foundation has a partnership with Moffitt Cancer Center, which helps thousands of women each year battle breast cancer.

This hits close to home to one of Hungry Howie's associates, Andrea Adair, who also is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

“It's not just about offering mammograms,” she says. “What NBCF offers through Moffitt provides women with whatever they need whether it's radiation, chemo, or psychological support. They want to make sure they are really helping people”

While she praises Moffitt and the NBCF for offering more than just mammograms, Adair goes on to emphasize the importance of early detection. She says it was early detection that saved her life. Ellmaker echoes her sentiments.

“There are so many times we get so busy taking care of everyone else, that we forget to take care of ourselves,” Ellmaker says. “However the breast cancer foundation has lots of information and links on their website that can educate on early detection because it's so important.”

For information on where you can bid on the “Love & Hope Quilt,” click here. Also, for information on the National Breast Cancer Foundation for links about early detection, click here.

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: 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: 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: 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.”
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