Read the Stories

Read the Stories

This is a place where you can read the stories of philanthropists, nonprofit organizations, and fundraisers who are making a difference in Tampa Bay.

Name of Person (and Organization if applicable) Submitting StoryWho/what organization is the story about?Story TagsStory TitleStory
Johns Hopkins All Children's FoundationKart 4 Kids Pro-Am RaceGenerosityGoing the Extra MileIt’s early March in downtown St. Petersburg, and the city is adorned with concrete barricades and wire fencing in preparation for the 2020 St. Petersburg Grand Prix. To an outsider, it may seem like an eye sore … but to locals of St. Pete, it’s a beautiful sight. The scene was set, and the show was ready to go on. However, COVID-19 had a different idea.

One of the first events for Grand Prix Weekend for the past nine years has been the Kart 4 Kids Pro-Am Race, which borrows a corner of the Grand Prix track for a charity go kart race. Championed by St. Petersburg resident and professional driver, Sébastien Bourdais and an amazing committee of volunteers, the event features race professionals who are partnered with local teams for an experience of a lifetime – all while raising money for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

For Kart 4 Kids, the show did go on! Teams gathered and zipped around the track, with fans cheering in the stands. Little did they know that only two days later, COVID-19 precautions would require that the Grand Prix be postponed. Kart 4 Kids raised over $150,000 during the 2020 event, and were inspired to dedicate $70,000 of their fundraising dollars to offset expenses for parents and families suffering financial hardships due to the impact of COVID-19.

Over the past 9 years, Kart 4 Kids has raised over $750,000 for children treated at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Thank you to the Kart 4 Kids committee for always going the extra mile.
Holly Moon/Lions Eye Institute FoundationKen Blair, Shannon Sell, Kat Cleofas, and Leigh WeaverGenerosity; Leadership; ResilienceThe Gift of TimeBecause of the pandemic, Lions Eye Institute Foundation was forced to move their annual gala fundraiser to a virtual stage. We developed an idea to give experience boxes to our guests full of goodies from local vendors, but it was a big project and we needed a lot of help to do it.

Fortunately, help came! Ken Blair, Shannon Sell, Kat Cleofas, and Leigh Weaver went above and beyond to help us get our new virtual gala concept off the ground. Ken, Shannon, Kat, and Leigh typically volunteer at our events as part of their employer’s volunteer program. Because of the pandemic, the company decided for the safety of their employees that they would not be volunteering as a group this year.

In order to continue to support our mission, these four superheroes took time off and/or came straight after work to our headquarters to help us make this fundraiser a reality. Each day, they had to get their temperature checked and dawn on their face mask. Sometimes they would stay at Lions Eye Institute until 9PM and take work home with them!

This year’s event would not have been possibility without Ken, Shannon, Kat, and Leigh; their philanthropic spirits and their sacrificial generosity.
Alissa VanDeman WUSF Public MediaCynthia FaulhaberGenerosity; Innovation; Leadership; ResilienceAnswering the CallFor nearly 20 years, the dulcet radio waves produced by WUSF Public Media have been Cynthia Faulhaber’s constant companion.

A dedicated listener, Faulhaber tunes into both WUSF 89.7 and Classical WSMR 89.1 every day. As Tampa’s flagship National Public Radio member station, Faulhaber trusts WUSF 89.7 to provide “high value” news coverage. When it is time to relax, she switches over to Classical WSMR 89.1 for a mix of locally curated and hosted classical music that is freely accessible to everyone.

“Look up loyalty in the dictionary, and you’ll see Cynthia’s picture,” said Scott Nolan, senior director of development for WUSF and a long-time friend of Faulhaber. “When Cynthia supports a cause, she really gives herself over fully to it. That’s the kind of passion and drive she brings as a supporter of WUSF. Three campaigns on two stations every year, we can always count on her participation.”

A retired attorney, Faulhaber is a staunch supporter and philanthropic leader of causes that capture her heart.

While living in Michigan in the ’90s, she joined the Children’s Leukemia Foundation (CLF) of Michigan, became president of the board and helped raise a $1 million endowment fund. Faulhaber’s service spanned nearly a decade and included board chair, secretary and executive committee member.

In Florida, Faulhaber’s philanthropy has focused on helping abused, abandoned and neglected
children. As a Guardian ad Litem, she stood as a powerful voice for vulnerable children in the community. She has also worked extensively with the Suncoast Voices for Children to provide for the unmet needs of children in Pinellas and Pasco counties. At Suncoast Voices, she served as a member of the board, the Request Committee and eventually president of the board and acting executive director. She guided the organization through their first two gala fundraisers and played an instrumental role in selecting the next two leaders of the non-profit. Through her devoted service, the organization has bloomed, significantly advancing its impact on the community.

“If I see a way to help, I want to do it,” Faulhaber said, humbly describing her philanthropic philosophy. “It’s that simple – seeing and responding to a need.”

For WUSF, Faulhaber’s commitment to keeping public radio freely accessible knows no bounds.

In response to recent funding shortages, Faulhaber has stepped up in a big way by joining the WUSF Public Media Leadership Society.

“The Leadership Society is comprised of WUSF’s most generous supporters,” said Nolan. “They are the insiders and philanthropic leaders. In a time when society is experiencing the decline of journalism, public radio is growing and thriving thanks to support from our incredible Leadership Society donors like Cynthia Faulhaber.”
Rachel BlaaschPremier Community HealthCareResiliencePremier Community HealthCareI want to share about the strides Premier Community HealthCare, a community health center that serves that most vulnerable in our communities, made during the pandemic. Our role in the health care system is to be the safety net provider for those in need of accessible and affordable care regardless of insurance status. Premier provides care for the underinsured or uninsured, low income families, and patients of all ages and stages in life. We strive to service the whole person, both inside and outside the clinic walls. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier adapted to the new normal. The COVID-19 crisis made us create our first TeleHealth program, which allows for continued medical care from the safety and convenience of home. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unforeseen challenges operationally and financially. We delicately balanced continued care for our community and patients with increased sanitization and safety protocols. Through the generosity of our donors and partners, we supplied over 2,500 hygiene kits and masks to those in need.

Throughout this constantly changing situation, we adapted and kept our doors open and our normal hours so there could be something consistent in our patient’s lives. For those who lost jobs and needed assistance, they could come to Premier for medication assistance, continuity of care, and navigating special enrollment periods on the HealthCare Marketplace so they could make a well-informed choice for their families. Our care team members also organized a hygiene item collection campaign and donated it to the Dawn Center. Premier is proud of our strong culture of teamwork and compassion because our patients are also our neighbors.
Allison Kuhn, Dawning Family Services McKibbon HospitalityGenerosity;InnovationHousing Those In Need During the COVID-19 CrisisAt McKibbon Hospitality, "Love your Community" is one of our guiding principles that exemplifies what hospitality means in the broadest sense. Earlier this year, when our community partner, Dawning Family Services, reached capacity at their emergency housing shelter and were unable to take in any additional families due to COVID-19 safety concerns, they reached out to us seeking assistance with temporary housing. Our Homewood Suites in the Westshore District immediately opened their doors (and their hearts), providing shelter for families in need with a focus on cleanliness and safety for all, making the families feel at home with complimentary daily breakfast and access to all hotel amenities, including the pool and gym, even recognizing all of the mothers staying at the hotel on Mother’s Day with cards from the hotel team. Since May, McKibbon and Homewood Suites have been able to assist almost 20 local families in this capacity through this special partnership with Dawning Family Services and we look forward to continuing to work together to assist Tampa Bay’s most vulnerable families.
Alissa VanDemanJulie ScalesGenerosity; Innovation; LeadershipA Passion for CommunityA Passion for Community

Julie Scales’ passion for her community is evident from the numerous local organizations and causes she has supported with her time and financial resources over the last three decades.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Scales moved to Florida in 1984, settling in Dunedin in 1989.
Scales was a practicing attorney for more than 20 years, first with Holland & Knight in Lakeland and then with the Pinellas County Attorney’s Office in Clearwater.

She took the plunge into local politics by running for the Dunedin City Commission, which she served on for more than a decade, and capped her career by serving 13 years as the CEO of the Pinellas Community Foundation.

Along the way, public radio was a constant in her life. Already a public radio listener in her hometown, she continued as a listener after her move to the Tampa area.

While she most appreciates the quality of the news on WUSF 89.7, Scales also enjoys the mix of programming. A longtime listener when the station played classical music in the middays, she was at first concerned when WUSF 89.7 moved to an all-talk format, but quickly became a fan.

“I love the variety. I listen to lots of different programs. They’re very different from each other, but I find them all pretty interesting,” she said. She particularly likes The Splendid Table and Sound Opinions.

After retiring, Scales felt it was time to “up her game” from consumer to contributor.

“I realized it was extremely important, in my opinion, to support news you could trust,” said Scales.

After giving generously from her financial resources, Scales began giving her time as well, first hosting donor events at her home in Dunedin and then joining the WUSF Advisory Board.

JoAnn Urofsky, associate vice president and general manager of WUSF Public Media, has watched Scales’ involvement with the station grow from receiving support from the Pinellas Community Foundation under her leadership, to making her own gifts to support WUSF.

“Since her retirement, her gracious personal generosity has grown,” said Urofsky. “She’s opened up her lovely home to other WUSF donors and gives unstintingly of her time on our WUSF Advisory Board. I’m grateful for her deep understanding of the needs of the station and her generosity in supporting the work of the newsroom.”

Outside of WUSF, Scales has been active for many years with the Dunedin Fine Arts Center and currently serves as chair of their board. She’s also on the board of Friends of the Island Parks, a support organization for Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Parks, and supports a local food bank in Dunedin.

When asked how she decides which organizations to support, she acknowledges there are so many needs in any given community.

“I ask myself, ‘What has been very meaningful to me?’” she said. “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s made my life richer.”
Johns Hopkins All Children's FoundationCourtyard by Marriott St. Petersburg DowntownGenerosityFamilies FirstHaving a young child who faces hospitalization and a major health crisis takes a toll on any family. Add a worldwide pandemic to the situation and families are being pushed beyond their limits, emotionally and financially. At the start of the current pandemic families needing overnight or multi-day accommodations near the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital main campus in St. Petersburg found themselves struggling to locate and afford rooms. The need to stay in close proximity to critical pediatric in-patients was great, prompting the creation of a new program and temporary housing resource.

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation, through its All IN employee giving campaign and Marriott International were able to form a dynamic partnership to help fund hotel stays for families who needed to be near the hospital.

The Courtyard by Marriott St. Petersburg Downtown, part of Marriott International, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals partner since 1983, took an unprecedented step to make sure families were not separated during prolonged illnesses, by heavily discounting its room rates at a time when corporations are also in financial distress. “It was our pleasure and privilege to host the many families displaced during their difficult times. They became a part of our family as we hopefully provided them with a “home away from home” as well as a listening ear, “said Kathy Cablish, general manager for the Courtyard by Marriott St Petersburg Downtown. The result of this generosity was the ability to provide more than 100 families with 1,206 discounted nights from April 2020-September 2020.

Through the hospital’s All IN initiative, families were also provided snack bags and a meal ticket plan for free meals in the hospital’s cafeteria and other dining facilities. These families have been through so much and are experiencing such a scary time. A simple act of kindness like a discounted hotel stay, $10 cafeteria card, a bag of snacks or a cup of coffee can cause people to react like it’s the most special thing they have ever received. It is gratifying to see the heart of Marriott International in partnership with Johns Hopkins All Children’s employees make such a difference for families in their time of need.
Jewanna Apawu - Johns Hopkins All Children's FoundationJohns Hopkins All Children's HospitalGenerosityAll Children’s Employees are “All In”Employees at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital are “All In,” with 50% participation in its employee giving campaign. In past years, most of the major disbursements from the fund have helped people recover from hurricane losses, but the COVID-19 crisis has meant a loss of income for many employees’ families. With the unexpected challenges to every aspect of our employees’ lives caused by the pandemic, the ALL IN employee giving initiative kicked in in a major way, demonstrating the huge impact philanthropy can make.

Because of our own employees’ generosity, our Employees Helping Employees Fund was able to award over $80,000 in grant money for financial assistance, 3,449 grocery bags and 6,600 catered meals to our own employees. This wouldn’t have been possible without our employees who give to this fund via payroll deduction. In over 30 years employees have donated over $6,000,000 to our All In Campaign. Thank you to the amazing staff of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital for making an impact on other employees in crisis.
Deanne Cornette, Frameworks of Tampa Bay, Inc.Frameworks of Tampa Bay is a nonprofit organization that empowers educators, youth services professionals, and parents and guardians with training, coaching, and research-based resources to equip students with social and emotional skills.Inclusion and Diversity; Innovation; ResilienceTeaching Resiliency in the Face of AdversitySince its founding in 2002, Frameworks has grown from a grassroots volunteer-led effort to an organization with twelve staff members and a $1.2 million budget. Frameworks offers school and district consultation, educator and mentor professional development, teacher coaching, parent and community engagement sessions, and data and evaluation services. In doing so, Frameworks supports adults in helping children build the skills that they need to face challenges and uncomfortable emotions in constructive ways, preparing them to succeed personally, academically, and one day professionally. Frameworks creates awareness around the growing need of children/youth’s mental health and well-being with a goal of decreasing the stress, anxiety, loneliness, and related behaviors that have always been present, but with the pandemic have become more pervasive than ever. SEL is the key to building a strong pipeline from early childhood through advanced degrees for a community to compete and prosper.

Beyond the classroom, Frameworks' outreach includes parent engagement, workshops, activities, and newsletters, targeting each group with the information, resources, and tips for nurturing their children's emotional intelligence and reinforcing their SEL skills outside of the school environment. With the onset of COVID-19, Frameworks rapidly adapted by developing and offering virtual training and support to our community as well. They facilitated 55 virtual sessions with 1,461 educators and parents in attendance. For the FY21 year, they have provided 28 trainings to date (in person and virtual) for 822 educators. Frameworks currently facilitates SEL program implementation in 89 public private, parochial and charter schools in Hillsborough County that includes age appropriate and research based SEL curriculum with enrollments of over 35,000 students.

Risky behaviors such as drug use, bullying, and absenteeism are often linked to poor SEL skills. Frameworks offers not only the guidance to help those who impact our children increase their SEL skills, but also mitigate the symptoms of some mental health disorders by giving children the tools to cope with interpersonal, intrapersonal, and environmental challenges and stressors. These positive social skills, such as mindfulness, communication skills, self-regulation, and the identification and management of emotions, are protective factors for mental health and give our children the resiliency to overcome life's challenges today and in the future.
Tampa Bay Healthcare CollaborativeTampa Bay Healthcare CollaborativeInclusion and Diversity; Innovation; ResilienceA Transformational Year for the Tampa Bay Healthcare CollaborativeTampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative (TBHC), is a membership-driven, non-profit organization with a vision for its members to be the leading catalyst for sparking the movement on health Equity in Tampa Bay. We 1) Increase awareness among diverse partners about the importance of health equity 2) Build the capacity of members to enhance their efforts toward improving health equity and 3) Foster collaboration among members to address health equity challenges together.

2020 was an extremely transformational and innovative year for TBHC. In January, members convened to visualize a Tampa Bay in which true health equity was achieved and identified why health inequity exists at the individual, organizational, social and political levels. Members proposed how to address these issues, leading to the formation of TBHC’s new Impact Councils. Our three councils are doing amazing work to expand the TBHC network, create shared language around the meaning of health equity, and plan an event for 2021 based on the membership goals of achieving health equity.

Concomitant with the formation of our Impact Councils, TBHC won the regional Guidewell Reshaping Health Access Challenge in September. We pitched the development of our TBHC Collaborate App, available via desktop, IOS, and Android platforms in January. This digital collaboration platform allows organizations focused on the social determinants of health in the Tampa Bay region to save time and dollars while advancing health equity. We could not be more excited to represent the Tampa Bay region at the State Competition at the end of October.

As a non-profit organization specifically focused on collaboration and health equity, we saw ample opportunity this year to re-align our focus once COVID truly exposed how our nation struggles to support those who are most in need. The resilience of our members along with the mindset of compassion for all continues to fuel our endeavors through these uncertain times.
Pat Simmons - Bikes For ChristBikes For ChristGenerosity; Innovation; ResilienceBikes For Christ Continues To Roll During The PandemicBikes For Christ is the premier provider of transportation to over 50 organizations that work directly with clients in need. Our work takes us in to parts of four counties here in the Tampa Bay area, providing reliable transportation via bicycles for the clients these agencies work with. Our main focus is Veterans who are trying re-establish themselves, underprivileged children, and anyone who is in need and is working to overcome their current situation.

Throughout the entire year and pandemic, we have continued to work and provide to our partner organizations. We already provided a Gospel of John and lights from DOT, but have now added masks from the Hillsborough County Health Department and back packs that were generously donated after a trade show was cancelled.

Additionally, we had been looking to start our own social enterprise program, so we decided to start selling some of our nicest and higher end bicycles to cover our overhead. With the impact of COVID, two things occurred that meant that timing was perfect. First, all public events were shut down, meaning fundraisers were cancelled. Secondly, because of everyone “being safe at home,” people rediscovered their love of cycling, causing a huge shortage of bicycles nationwide. Bikes For Christ was able to overcome the adversity of not being able to fundraise the traditional way by creating our own way to generate capital so we continue to serve or low income population.

http://www.Bikes4Christ.com
Naya Young, Tampa Heights Junior Civic AssociationTampa Heights Junior Civic AssociationGenerosity; Innovation; Leadership ;ResilienceConnecting CommunitiesTampa Heights Junior Civic Association is a 20 plus year-old community-based resident driven organization that provides wraparound services to at-risk children and their families to help youth grow into well rounded, leadership trained young adults. Our families are almost a hundred percent people-of-color. Wraparound services include gardening, healthy eating and organic food preparation, case management, therapeutic and behavioral sessions, character-building and entrepreneurship. Thereby, ensuring that children are better prepared for academic achievements. These services are provided in-schools, after school and in the community/summer non-school settings combined with home visits.

As many other organizations have experienced this year, COVID-19 has affected some of the normal operations at Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association (THJCA) due to stay-at-home restrictions and other requirements that were established by CDC and local governments. School closing and closing of THJCA’s center immediately impacted our ability to work in-person with the children and families. This happened at a time when our organization’s services were needed even more than during pre-pandemic periods. There were difficult mental and physical adjustments. THJCA’s participants have challenges such as online access, food insecurities, transportation to receive free food or to pick up hard copies of children’s school work printouts.

THJCA opened its center for summer programs with social distancing, use of masks, temperature checks and regular handwashing. The facility was professionally deep cleaned regularly and plans to add UV air sanitation virus containment systems were initiated. However, the center’s in-person sessions had to close because families started testing positive for the virus. Some of our families live in multi-generation households and many parents and primary caregiver grandparents are also the most vulnerable with preexisting medical conditions. Some are frontline and or essential workers. This knowledge is taking a mental toll on our children as well. Therefore, we began providing online and remote communication, tutoring and mentoring with the youth. By partnering with the University of South Florida College of Education, THJCA was able to provide remote mentoring and tutoring to students in need.

Our case manager assisted a family who became homeless due to a fire, a parent who lost her job due to COVID but did not have a computer to complete the application for new employment and also needed a new place to live, and helping with back to school supplies, and food and clothing drives. These wraparound needs are surfacing more during the pandemic. THJCA will be opening its two facilities as e-learning centers to help children catch up on education requirements with the help of in-person teachers who will assist with their online learning. Children will receive their meals at the center and their social and mental health will be supported by THJCA’s professional staff.
Sarah Dale - Humane Society of Tampa BayCOVID-19 Impact on Pet OwnersGenerosity; ResilienceHSTB and Covid-19The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has continuously navigated through COVID-19, adapting on a regular basis in order to stay open for our community in need. COVID-19 has created some unique challenges for pet owners and the animals in our community. We have received numerous calls from desperate people looking for pet food, veterinary care, a safe place to surrender their pet or bring in a stray animal. Many shelters closed or were no longer accepting animals and providing life-saving medical procedures. We are proud to say our commitment to our community and its animals has remained unwavered; we have continued to operate as a full service shelter and animal hospital. We are the only shelter in Hillsborough County to remain open during this time.

Not only did we receive an influx of animals when the pandemic started, but the need for assistance from the public doubled. Not knowing where their next meal would come from, let alone how to feed or provide medical care for their pet many people relied on us. We increased our food assistance hours and provided double the amount of free pet food so that people could keep their pets.

Additionally, we increased our save-a-pet program which provides medical assistance for owned pets at our animal hospital. Our community is facing unimaginable times, but because of our supporters, we are here and will always be here for the animals.
St. Joseph's Hospitals FoundationScott and Kathy FinkGenerosity; LeadershipDriven to CareKick the tires and pop the hood, but first gauge the heart. That’s how Scott Fink succeeds in business, community service and philanthropy.

Striving for the best keeps the CEO of Fink Automotive Group revved up to operate six dealerships, including Hyundai of New Port Richey, the brand’s highest volume showroom in the nation.

This Tampa business man with a long history of philanthropy recently deepened his commitment to the community by providing a seven-figure family naming gift for the lobby of the new patient tower at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Scott Fink, a member of the board of trustees of St. Joseph’s Hospitals Foundation, and his wife Kathy announced their commitment amid the global pandemic knowing that the hospital would need additional support to care for the influx of COVID-19 patients. The Fink Family Lobby is the showcase of a $126 patient bed tower expansion which also features a new main entrance, 90 private patient rooms, a conference center, and a bridge that connects with St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital.

“If ever there was a time in history, when our community should come together to support our healthcare institutions, this is it,” said Scott Fink. “St. Joseph’s Hospitals are a pillar of our community and we are proud to play a part in supporting those on the frontlines.”

Scott’s business philosophy is built around his commitment to community—from how he treats his customers to the $10 from each car he sells that he donates to local causes and organizations. One of his greatest passions is leading, as the Chairman of the Board, the national Hyundai Hope On Wheels organization which is one of the largest private funders of pediatric cancer research and care: $172 million to date. One of the charities significantly touched by Hope On Wheels is Tampa Bay’s own St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital where funding for the needs of children with cancer has made the group the largest donor to pediatric oncology in the hospital’s history.

Married in 1990, the Finks are parents of five, ages 26 to 14-year-old twins. Two adult children have followed their parents into work in the auto industry. The two youngest attend Berkeley Preparatory School where Scott sits on the board of trustees. He also lends his leadership to the boards of the Tampa Bay Partnership and Metropolitan Ministries.

For the Fink family bumper sticker, we propose: Driven to Care.
Donna Killoren (Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay, Inc.)Seniors in Service engages volunteers to impact people in need, especially now.Generosity; Inclusion and Diversity; Innovation; Leadership; ResilienceSeniors in Service - GEARED UP TO SERVE!We all hear the stories. Someone’s aging mother or widowed grandfather needs a hand. Their finances or health are running out, yet many won’t ask for help. Even before COVID-19 we faced a crisis. Studies show social isolation for elders eclipses obesity and even smoking as a predictor of early decline or death. Now social distancing due to COVID-19 has dramatically increased the number of elders who are lonely and scared. How can they remain living independently, with dignity? Seniors in Service volunteers are GEARED UP TO SERVE!
Seniors in Service provides solutions to community challenges by engaging volunteers aged 55+. We help frail elders, overwhelmed caregivers, adults with disabilities, struggling veterans, hungry families, disadvantaged children, and more – ultimately improving quality of life for our entire Tampa Bay community. Our still-vibrant senior-age volunteers also benefit from staying active, connected, and fulfilled. Our intense model of volunteerism and spirit of collaboration has enabled us to continually increase our community impact each year – at no charge to our clients.
When community needs skyrocketed during COVID-19, Seniors in Service immediately stepped up, shifting to virtual service delivery through existing and brand new partnerships. Since the start of the pandemic, we have increased funding by over 10% and grew from 17 to 28 staff members, adapting to meet surging community needs brought on by the pandemic.
Seniors in Service reduces social isolation with Senior Companion Services. Volunteers get background-checks and expert training. Volunteers and clients are matched based on interests, culture and skills, building enduring relationships that help them both. The heartwarming stories tell it best.
Joanne lives alone, with no support from family or friends. Frail and legally blind, she’s grateful to Christine, who volunteers to provide in-home senior companionship. Christine offers friendship, help with Activities of Daily Living, and a watchful eye for any unmet needs. But the pandemic prevents her from continuing to visit Joanne in her home and, as a senior herself, she’s now one of our community’s vulnerable. Still, Christine continues to help while social distancing, calling Joanne every day and bringing her groceries. Joanne says Christine changed her life. "She really cares about me...You got a treasure with her and now she is mine."
Volunteers also help overwhelmed caregivers, offering respite to better care for their loved ones. After 65 years of marriage, Daisy and Peter shared a lifetime of memories. When Peter’s dementia turned Daisy into fulltime caregiver, the never-ending demands impacted her health. Some days she couldn’t go on; their grown daughter often missed work to help. Senior Companion Volunteer David shared Peter’s love for dominoes – a perfect match! He helped Daisy with errands and fixed her computer. Daisy trusted David to care for Peter. She now found time to enjoy life with friends. Yet with all David did to improve their lives, he insists they’re the ones who improved his. Now, even after Peter is gone, David keeps in touch with Daisy by phone and social media, making sure she knows that even during the pandemic, he’s there for her.
TelePals offer socialization and wellness-checks to elderly clients through telephone reassurance. For some, it’s the only conversation they have all day. During COVID-19, TelePals pivoted to online enrollment, digital volunteer trainings, and client assessments by phone. Enrollment is easy by phone or http://www.TelePalNow.org. For Jim, TelePals offers a lifeline. As a veteran, he’s conditioned to never ask for help. Doctor visits are one place he finds connection. Alone in the waiting room, he sees a flyer stating: “You’ve Got a Friend!” An invitation to call Seniors in Service. Inexplicably, he makes the call: “I am 70 and I have nobody.” Kevin, a retired businessman, enrolls to volunteer. As a veteran, he shares a special bond with others who’ve served our country. Kevin shares, “We share experiences from our past and daily lives…We get serious but also laugh a lot…It’s the highlight of my day.”
Intergenerational TelePals Chelsea and Rebecca initially wondered what they would talk about. As a USF psychology student, Chelsea learned how isolation affects mental health. Now, with COVID-19, she’s feeling isolated herself. Discovering TelePals on USF’s website, she volunteers. She’s nervous at first, but hearing about Rebecca’s adventures when she was young is fun! Chelsea ensures Rebecca is social distancing and has everything she needs. She’s poised to alert TelePals staff of any concerns. Their chats help them both, navigating this new reality, together.
Even before the pandemic, 1 in 6 Tampa Bay seniors faced hunger. COVID-19 resulted in 300% increase in requests from low-income seniors for home-delivered meals, exceeding the capacity of existing meal vendors. At the same time, restaurants faced huge revenue loss. Using federal Cares Act funding, Area Agency on Aging Pasco-Pinellas engaged Seniors in Service to vet local restaurants interested in participating. Together with Pasco Senior Services and Pinellas Neighborly Care Network, we helped ensure 18 restaurants met nutritional requirements and helped recruit volunteers, delivering 87,103 meals to low-income homebound elders. Other volunteers, like Anita, continued to serve at local food pantries like Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sun City, where people who had never before needed help came in droves, seeking food for their families. Anita shares that the simple thanks they receive are what drive them to serve. “Families bring us big smiles. Some bring us flowers or hugs. One gentleman brings his guitar and serenades us. And one brought us a letter he had written, which we have framed, that said, ‘To my friends here: I may not know you by name, but I have met your heart. You were there when I needed you. Thank you.
I am now back on my own feet again, and this will be my last visit.”
Got an hour? Give an hour! Seniors in Service offers opportunities to volunteer safely, either remotely or in-person while social-distancing. Learn more: http://www.seniorsinservice.org or follow us on http://www.facebook.com/seniorsinservice.
Meagan Heller - Ruth Eckerd HallRuth Eckerd Hall, The Salvation Army in Clearwater and Upper Pinellas County, Pinellas County Health Department, Baycare and the City of Clearwater Generosity; Leadership; ResilienceRuth Eckerd Hall Pivots Parking Lots for our CommunityEarlier this year, like so many other cultural institutions, Ruth Eckerd Hall had to close its doors to the public. However, this did not stop the performing arts center from contributing to the community.

When numbers of COVID-19 positive cases increased, along with continued unemployment, The Salvation Army in Clearwater and Upper Pinellas County partnered with Ruth Eckerd Hall to distribute over 3,500 USDA food boxes, equating to over 10,000 meals. Utilizing the Hall’s strategically planned traffic pattern throughout its parking lots, people safely lined up in their cars and drove through to receive healthy, fresh groceries placed in the trunk of cars weekly, throughout the summer.

Soon the Pinellas County Health Department, Baycare and the City of Clearwater saw how accessible and supportive the traffic pattern could be to the community and the Hall became a drive-through testing site for the COVID-19 pandemic. This partnership increased access to testing, serving hundreds of local families. While the testing need has fluctuated, the site was designed with the capacity to serve over 10,000 in the three months of operation and will continue as needed. This partnership has functioned so well, there is discussion on expanding to offer flu vaccinations and possibly mass inoculation of a COVID-19 vaccine when available.

The Ruth Eckerd Hall staff jumped at the opportunity to volunteer helping to direct cars. This time of year is typically a busy time for them, but with main stages remaining dark, they were excited to serve the community again, albeit different than their daily mission of changing lives through the performing arts.

In these difficult times, while community leaders and philanthropists work together to create solutions to new world problems, nonprofit support, structure and collaborations keep communities afloat.

https://www.wtsp.com/video/features/great-day-live/ruth-eckerd-hall-keeping-busy-serving-community-during-pandemic/67-980f8246-d2c1-45e5-9dce-1479d12069b1
Holly Moon/Lions Eye Institute FoundationSeminole Lions FoundationGenerosity; LeadershipPhilanthropic Leadership in an Emergency SituationThe Seminole Lions Foundation has truly shown their philanthropic Lion spirit throughout 2020; they have certainly made a difference for the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research. Like many nonprofit organizations in Tampa Bay, the Lions Eye Institute has struggled through the pandemic. Earlier this year, Governor Ron DeSantis made the difficult decision to ban all elective surgical procedures. If you are not familiar with the Lions Eye Institute, this local nonprofit organization is one of the largest combined eye banks and ocular research centers in the world. Annually, they provide over 10,000 corneal tissues for sight-saving transplant surgeries.

Unfortunately, most people experiencing corneal blindness who are in need of a transplant are not considered to be emergency cases. As a result, Lions Eye Institute was unable to provide the gift of sight to the people who needed it and unable to honor the wishes of most people who otherwise would have been tissue donors. With a halt in surgeries, Lions Eye Institute lost its revenue overnight. In order to keep the staff employed and the organization available for emergency cases, all employees took a pay cut for several months.

The Lions Eye Institute Foundation decided it was time to appeal to their supporters and ask for help. The Lions Eye Institute Foundation established the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to help make up some of the revenue that the organization was losing. This is when the Seminole Lions Foundation stepped in to provide their support with a leadership matching gift of $25,000.00. This was a perfect start to an emergency fundraising campaign! Lion Waid Tribiano generously agreed to record videos to send to his fellow Florida Lions and other friends of Lions Eye Institute, urging them to participate in the campaign and have their gift be matched dollar for dollar.

Through the philanthropic leadership of Lion Blaine Russell, Lion Waid Tribiano, and the rest of their fellow Lions of the Seminole Lions Club, the Lions Eye Institute Foundation was able to meet and exceed their matching challenge. To date, the COVID-19 Emergency Fund has raised over $116,000.00 to support the organization as it continues to face challenges due to the pandemic. The impact of this gift on the campaign is apparent, but there is an even greater story to tell. Because of the generosity and volunteerism from the Seminole Lions Foundation, Lions Eye Institute for Transplant was able to retain its essential health care staff. Because of the Seminole Lions Foundation, people throughout Tampa Bay and across the country are able to continue to have their vision restored through the work of the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant and Research.
University of South Florida FoundationHelios Education FoundationGenerosity; Inclusion and Diversity; InnovationStability Amid UncertaintyHelios Education Foundation is known for its innovative approach to creating opportunities for success in postsecondary education in Florida and Arizona. At the University of South Florida, for example, the foundation played a pivotal role in getting the university’s Black Leadership Network off the ground.

In 2020, Helios quickly responded to needs arising from the pandemic.

Recognizing many limited-income students were in danger of reducing their course-taking hours or not enrolling at all, Helios gave the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities a $650,000 grant, the Helios-Florida Consortium COVID-19 Summer Completion Grant Initiative, to provide financial support to hundreds of students a or University of South Florida, Florida International University and the University of Central Florida to ensure they remained enrolled during the summer and committed to degree completion.

The grant covered expenses not covered by CARES Act or traditional financial aid and increased the likelihood students would stay on track and graduate on time.

Amid the uncertainty students are currently experiencing, this support brought short-term stability, allowing students to remain focused on degree completion and a successful future post-COVID-19.

Helios Education Foundation was created with the vision that every individual in Arizona and Florida has the opportunity to attend and is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education. To that end, Helios has invested millions of dollars in education-related programs and initiatives across both states. To date, Helios has invested nearly $92 million in Florida alone.

Helios has organized their giving in Florida around the Florida Metropolitan Education Initiative, focusing on the Tampa, Miami and Orlando metropolitan areas. The goal of the initiative is to improve quality, access and achievement across the P-20 education continuum, ultimately leading to more first-generation, low-income and minority students attaining a postsecondary degree.

Over the years, Helios has given more than $16 million to the USF Foundation, including support for the Black Leadership Network, the Latino Scholarship Program, the Florida College Access Network and the STEM Middle School Residency Program.
University of South Florida FoundationRena Upshaw-Frazier and Anddrikk FrazierGenerosity; Inclusion and Diversity; LeadershipCommitted to CommunityBoth Anddrikk Frazier and Rena Upshaw-Frazier are Tampa Bay area natives whose parents instilled in them a sense of community and giving back.

Anddrikk, who was born and raised in Clair-Mel City, is both a Tampa Prep and University of South Florida alumnus and former basketball player. Over the years, he has given back to both institutions with his time, talent and treasure.

At Tampa Prep, he has served as a substitute teacher, worked with the basketball team and served on the Alumni Board. He is currently a member of the Tampa Prep Board of Trustees.

At USF, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering, he is a founding member of the USF Black Leadership Network. Founded in 2016, BLN was created to enhance the education and leadership opportunities of USF African American students and African American student initiatives through the support of scholarships and programmatic initiatives throughout USF and its surrounding communities.

He also recently served the university on the Presidential Search Committee and Consolidation Task Force and on the Bulls Varsity Club board.

In the Tampa Bay community, Anddrikk serves on the board of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and the Business Connect Committee (a program to help disadvantaged business enterprises prepare to win Super Bowl vendor contracts).

Anddrikk previously served on the boards of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, the YMCAs of Tampa Bay and many others.

Rena is the founder of Greycliff Interiors, which she established in 2020, and serves as its principal designer and stager. She also serves as a licensed Realtor with Allure Realty, LLC.

Rena earned a bachelor’s degree in civil/environmental engineering from USF and a law degree from Stetson University College of Law. An attorney and former partner at a national law firm, She spent a decade helping individuals and businesses with real estate deals and legal issues across Florida.

Rena shows her commitment to her community by serving on the St. Joseph’s-Baptist Hospital Board, the Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women (former chair) and as a member of the USF Foundation Board. She recently sat on the board of the University Area Community Development Corp. and chaired its Affordable Housing Task Force.
University of South Florida FoundationBristol Myers SquibbGenerosity; InnovationA Strong Tradition of GivingBristol Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. The company’s Tampa location, which opened in January 2014, has been named one of the Tampa Bay area’s top workplaces for three years.

In addition to its foundation, which supports community-based programs that promote cancer awareness, screening, care and support among high-risk populations, each BMS location provides charitable support to its community and Tampa is no exception.

One of the first things BMS Tampa did upon opening was make a gift to the Hillsborough Education Foundation to support improvements to Middleton High School science labs, STEM curriculum and teacher professional development. With science at the core of nearly everything BMS does, they’ve also supported the Hillsborough Regional STEM Fair.

BMS selected the Tampa Bay region in part because of the strong university presence, particularly the University of South Florida. In 2019–20, BMS set a new record for giving to USF, providing more than $250,000 to a wide variety of programs at the university. This builds upon a strong tradition of giving to the university since arriving in the area.

Driven by the desire to develop the incredible talents of today’s students, for several years, they have provided a full scholarship for a pharmacy student specializing in research and development. The company has also supported the university’s Monica Wooden Center for Supply Chain Management and Sustainability, Women in Leadership & Philanthropy, Veteran’s Success initiatives and more.

In 2019-20, they generously named the Bristol Myers Squibb Heart Institute Seminar Room in the new Morsani College of Medicine building downtown, supporting the future physicians in the college.

The company also supported the Taneja College of Pharmacy’s WE-CARE, the Workgroup Enhancing Community Advocacy and Research Engagement. WE-CARE works to improve health outcomes among minority populations by increasing minority enrollment and participation in research and building trust and mutual respect between the community and researchers.

BMS’s investment in USF and the Tampa Bay community is improving patient outcomes and strengthening communities.
Jennifer Beck / Suncoast Hospice FoundationEPIC Partners with the City of St. PetersburgInnovationEmpath Partners in Care Supports St. Petersburg’s HomelessEPIC’s mission is to provide care and prevention services to those impacted by HIV and AIDS, and to provide support for the LGBT community. EPIC connects its homeless clients with needed resources to improve their wellbeing. Expanding services to include outreach to community members in need, regardless of HIV status, it furthers the mission on all levels.

As individuals come to EPIC for services, the coordinator can identify if there is a need for food or housing assistance. An on-site pantry is stocked with basic food and personal care items. Outreach team members have brought food and supplies to areas where the homeless population gather. Not only has this provided an opportunity for education about services that are available, such as HIV testing, but it has also continued to build trust in the area.

This year, EPIC received the Social Action Funding grant from the City of St. Petersburg. As a result of the increased outreach efforts made possible by the grant, EPIC has been able to engage with previously unidentified members of the homeless population and connect them to appropriate services for their unmet needs.

The emergence of COVID-19 created another obstacle in providing for the homeless population. Many organizations that were previously relied on for food or personal supplies have not been able to provide these necessities. EPIC has been able to step into that void and ensure these items are getting to the people who need them. “This population knows our team by name and recognizes our van when we are out in the community,” according to Sheryl Hoolsema, Director of EPIC Pinellas.

EPIC’s partnership with the City of St. Pete has made a huge impact, taking care of our most vulnerable population during these challenges times.
Jennifer Beck / Suncoast Hospice FoundationSuncoast HospiceGenerosityCare Team and Community Honors Hospice Patient – A Celebration for a Hometown HeroSuncoast Hospice nurse and U.S. Army Veteran Sandra Breedlove and her patient Wayne Barnes formed a special friendship. Wayne proudly served his country as a U.S. Army veteran, and then served his community as a St. Petersburg police officer from 1960 to 1985.

Wayne was always eager to see Sandra and share endless stories about his life. His face lit up when he talked about serving his community as a St. Petersburg police officer and serving his country in the military.

As the pandemic continued, Wayne mentioned to Sandra that he didn’t feel he’d get to see people and tell them goodbye. He was feeling increasingly worried and disconnected. Sandra wanted him to find that reconnection before it was too late.

Sandra came up with a way to honor Wayne and help him make those connections. She organized a parade that would go right down Wayne’s street. As word got out, people from across Tampa Bay responded. The interest was overwhelming with a flood of people wanting to show their gratitude for his service.

In July, a parade of Police and Sheriff patrol cars, officers on horseback, firetrucks, military veterans and neighbors paraded down Wayne’s street to salute this wonderful man who served his community and country.

Wayne sat on his front lawn with Sandra and his family watching the parade, waving, and smiling from ear to ear. He talked with a news crew and thanked those who showed up for him on that special day. He said he felt fantastic. He then turned to the camera and said, “Sandra was like a light at the end of the tunnel.” Sandra told him she loved him.

After several months under the care of Suncoast Hospice, Wayne Barnes passed away in September. He will truly live on in the hearts of those who loved him.

Link to: CommunityParade
Jennifer Beck / Suncoast Hospice FoundationSuncoast HospiceInnovationA New Way to Celebrate with Suncoast PACEEmpath Health volunteers are making special deliveries! With a cake in one hand, a bag of goodies in the other, and wearing the appropriate PPE, our volunteers bring a ‘Birthday-in-a-Box’ to the doors of PACE participants who are celebrating a birthday alone due to COVID-19.

Standing on her front porch, Barbara is presented with flowers, a birthday crown, a hand-made blanket and a cake decorated in her favorite teal-colored frosting. The volunteer holds a tablet already in a Zoom call with 16 teen volunteers ready and waiting to sing “Happy Birthday.” Even behind the protective face mask, Barbara’s face lights up with a smile.

She appreciates our teen volunteers being a part of a celebration she may not have otherwise had. Their involvement was a special and heartwarming touch for her, as she had a rewarding career as a child psychiatrist before retiring to Florida.

Suncoast PACE (‘Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly’) helps seniors like Barbara safely remain in their own homes, while providing socialization and stimulation in an adult day center setting. As a result of the pandemic, normal program offerings have been adapted for social distancing.

Before the pandemic began, teen volunteers would visit PACE participants at the PACE adult day center for their birthday, bringing a cake and a small gift. But the day center remains closed during the pandemic, and many PACE participants are home alone.

Many participants are feeling lonely and isolated. Those feelings can increase if they spend holidays and birthdays alone. The Birthday-in-a-Box program ensures PACE participants feel celebrated on their special day. Receiving a special visit and a party at their doorstep provides needed reassurance that people still care. The responses from the participants have been amazing.

PACE’s Birthday-in-a-Box has quickly taken off with a dozen parties happening in the first month. Barbara was overjoyed with the unexpected surprise. Volunteers bring joy wherever they go!
Jennifer Beck / Suncoast Hospice FoundationSuncoast Hospice - PACEInnovationMaking an Impact on Care During the PandemicCarla Creegan, manager of the Suncoast PACE Adult Day Center, has built a high-performing team of RNs, LPNs, social workers and care attendants to meet the care needs of over 300 participants. PACE (‘Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly’) provides care and support necessary to allow people to safely stay in their own homes for as long as possible as their needs increase.

Much of these services are provided at the PACE adult day center. Participants come to the day center to be with friends and engage in activities, receive nourishing hot meals, visit the on-site clinic and even receive physical and occupational therapy when needed.

In the early weeks of the pandemic, Carla anticipated the challenges she and her colleagues would face to continue to safely provide care and support to PACE participants if the day center had to shut down temporarily.

When the state shut down, Suncoast PACE was ready! Carla pioneered strategies to support over 150 participants while they could not come to the Adult Day Center. This included: making and delivering kits filled with books, coloring books & puzzles to ensure they were socially active while at home; delivering bags of food on an ongoing basis to ensure their nutritional needs were met; incorporating a newly-acquired mass communication tool, “VoiceFriend”, which allows for continuous and just-in-time communication to participants, caregivers & staff for important messaging, and incorporating Zoom meetings as part of socialization for participants, just to name a few.

During such unprecedented times, Carla has gone above and beyond in her response to the challenge of meeting the care and social needs of high-risk participants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing that many PACE participants have no one else to rely on, Carla’s leadership, innovative solutions and coordination skills have allowed PACE to meet the needs of their participants. Carla is truly a pioneer in the PACE field of healthcare!
Jennifer Beck / Suncoast Hospice FoundationEmpath HealthGenerosityVolunteering Across the Social DistanceAs a not-for-profit organization, volunteers play a key role in helping Empath Health and Suncoast Hospice provide services to the community.

Volunteers have contributed more than 195,000 hours of service. These selfless contributions include thousands of patient visits, phone calls, fundraising, deliveries, administrative support, welcoming guests and countless other activities both with patients and behind the scenes.

Due to the pandemic, many volunteers have had to press pause on their normal volunteer services. Some, however, are finding new ways to stay involved, such as: sewing and donating hundreds of fabric face masks for Empath Health staff members – continuing to provide companionship and care to patients they have connected with by making daily phone calls, delivering groceries or taking short walks outside allowing them to stay six feet apart – dropping off a patient’s favorite carrot cake and card to celebrate their birthday even though they could not visit – honoring care center staff by bringing food for them to enjoy on their meal breaks. Teen volunteers have taken to spreading cheer in the community by leaving messages of love, strength and hope through creative chalk artwork at our facilities.

Though in-person volunteer support sessions have been cancelled, Zoom meetings are helping volunteers stay connected with each other and their coordinators. Weekly Zoom topics have included: laughter yoga, guided meditation and trivia as well as training opportunities on subjects like managing social isolation and collecting the stories of military veterans. Volunteers have also been sharing happiness through photos of pets, sunsets, culinary creations and even selfies to show off their smiling faces.

Until our volunteers can safely resume their regular roles, finding ways to support each other from a distance is keeping connections strong. Empath Health and Suncoast Hospice could not do its work without the support of many dedicated volunteers.
Academy Prep Center of St. PetersburgAcademy Prep Center of St. PetersburgGenerosity; Inclusion and Diversity; ResilienceCovid Can’t Stop GOOD at Academy Prep Center of St. PetersburgEarlier this year as the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, the world seemed to have stopped. Schools and businesses closed, our priorities changed, and we all made major adjustments to our daily lives. This unexpected shift caused significant hardship for so many in our community, yet through these difficulties Academy Prep scholars have thrived, and have proven that they are resilient, driven, and committed. Students have persevered through extended distance learning this school year and are reminding us every day that Covid Can’t Stop GOOD!

There has been no community in Pinellas county hit harder by the pandemic than Southside St. Petersburg. According to a recent Tampa Bay Times article, black residents in Pinellas County are 2.5 times more likely to contract the virus than white residents, resulting in one of the largest disparities in Florida. The majority of those infections are centered in the same Southside community that Academy Prep has served for the last 23 years.

Long before the effects of Covid-19 were fully known, Academy Prep had taken swift and decisive action to protect our students and their families by intensely preparing for the shift to a virtual learning environment. We made significant improvements to our online systems, and with the help of a generous donation by St. Petersburg residents, Trevor Burgess and Gary Hess, every Academy Prep scholar was provided a Chromebook for the 2020-2021 school year. With additional support from our local community, students also received a virtual supply pack to enhance their online learning experience.

As a result, Academy Prep is now serving more students than ever before, and experiencing record-high retention rates. Students are continuing to receive the personalized attention and dynamic learning environment that are hallmarks of an Academy Prep education, leading to high levels of engagement, consistent attendance, outstanding standardized test results, and positive academic outcomes. Many schools feared learning loss in these uncertain times. Academy Prep's unwavering commitment to our students made certain that could not, and would not, happen here.

We are grateful to our community for helping ensure that every scholar and graduate will receive the full benefits of an Academy Prep education this year.
Alissa VanDeman WUSF Public MediaJoan and George LangeGenerosity; Inclusion and Diversity; LeadershipSupport You Can Count OnInnovation is the thread that runs through the many professional and philanthropic endeavors of Joan and George Lange.

As immediate past president of the WUSF Public Media Advisory Board, George pushed to grow the board in order to ensure representation of the station’s broad listening area as well as seek diversity in the makeup of the board.

George, who first served on the board from 2006-09 and then again from 2012-present, is one of WUSF’s biggest cheerleaders and views the station as a gem on the USF campus.

“It’s the only part of the university that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week reaching out to the community, including in times of emergency such as hurricanes,” said George.

The Langes’ lifetime giving to the University of South Florida, primarily to WUSF, reflects their appreciation of the programming the station provides.

“It’s intellectual. You learn something and hear varying opinions on topics,” said Joan.

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused WUSF to postpone their signature fundraising event, The Longest Table, the Langes agreed to let their sponsorship become an unrestricted gift to the station.

“Every time there is an opportunity to support WUSF, you can count on Joan and George to step up,” said Scott Nolan, senior director of development for WUSF Public Media.

The Langes made their way to Florida from Missouri in 1987 for a job opportunity and have called the Sunshine State home ever since. Though now retired, George uses the expertise gained over the course of a 38-year career in trust banking to make investments through the Langes’ personal investment company, Slick Rock Capital Partners.

George is also a partner in the St. Petersburg-based venture capital firm Seed Funders. He sits on the investment committee for the Seed Funders Opportunity Fund, which helps black entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

A teacher for many years, Joan has decades of service in the charter school movement. In 1997, she joined the Challenge Foundation as national schools director, helping to open about 18 charter schools around the country and bettering educational opportunities for children in those communities.


The Langes have both mentored leaders of nonprofits as partners in Social Venture Partners Tampa Bay. George in particular has mentored several nonprofit executives about developing alternative streams of revenue outside of donations, making them more stable during times of crises like we are experiencing today with COVID-19.

In addition, the Langes are both graduates of Leadership Florida, and George sits on the board for Florida Humanities.

“We have to learn to say no,” said Joan with a laugh when asked how they decide which organizations to support.

This year in particular, the Langes said they’ve narrowed their philanthropic focus, concentrating giving in ways where it is going to have a broader and major impact.

“We see that impact as we look at public radio, in particular WUSF, and the large broadcast area it touches,” said George.
Jennifer Gross, SPCA Tampa BaySPCA Tampa BayGenerosity; ResilienceSPCA Tampa Bay Helps Pets Weather the StormHurricanes Laura and Sally brought heavy rainfall and high winds to the Gulf Coast this summer, impacting hundreds of thousands of residents, including pet owners. For decades hurricanes have a dedicated spot on calendars from June through November. The storms are devastating to communities, but they also have a way to bring people and organizations together. Especially organizations like animal welfare agencies. They assist in recovery efforts and help relocate homeless animals to safety.
By relocating homeless animals from areas damaged by emergency situations such as this, not only are those animals brought to safety, but much-needed space and resources are made available for displaced pets in impacted communities.
In September, SPCA Tampa Bay rescue team partnered with the Louisiana SPCA to transport as many as 80 animals from the impacted areas back to Tampa Bay.
“As a for-all shelter, we are here to serve and support our community and our shelter partners across the country when they need help. Thanks to our donors and the actions of the Louisiana SPCA we’ll be able to find loving homes for these dogs,” said Martha Boden, CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay.
This transport of the animals was made possible thanks to our donors who help animals in need. In addition, Hill’s Pet Nutrition donated more than 15,000 pounds of dog and cat food to assist SPCA Tampa Bay’s shelter animals.
It costs approximately $20-25 every day for each animal in our care at the shelter. All of these rescued animals had their behavior reassessed and they were provided with proper medical care. Most of the cats and dogs and have been adopted, but there’s still a few waiting to find their forever homes.
SPCA Tampa Bay is always spreading the news to the community to be prepared and we urge residents in the pathway of approaching storms to include pets in their evacuation plans. That way we can all continue to Spread the Humanimality with our furry friends.

Tampa General Hospital Foundation - Haley MillerNew York Life Insurance CompanyGenerosityHelping Hands in an Unprecedented TimeWhen Tampa General Hospital reached out to the community for help making homemade masks, New York Life Insurance Company employees stepped right in. Their employees donated a total of 1,333 masks – simply incredible! Because they felt the need to help in additional ways, after having such success in helping with our homemade mask request, we turned their request into a virtual event – a card making class! Employees grabbed their markers, paper and creativity and learned more about TGH. These cards were mailed in and passed out to frontline heroes across the hospital. At New York Life Insurance Company, when employees give their time to volunteer, they receive grant money for those hours spent helping the community. In addition to the beautiful cards and homemade masks, we also received a generous donation. During a difficult, unprecedented time, these employees went above and beyond – spent time crafting for our heroes. We are thankful for their partnership, time, talent and treasure!
Tampa General Hospital FoundationDr. Pete Chang, Tampa General HospitalGenerosity; Innovation; LeadershipExtraordinary LeadershipIt’s no question the COVID-19 pandemic has affected each and every one of us in the Tampa Bay community and across Florida. At Tampa General Hospital (TGH), our frontline healthcare heroes are going above and beyond to keep us safe.

The TGH Foundation is honored to recognize Dr. Peter Chang for his continuous dedication to our patients and team members, especially during the pandemic. He has not only helped transform TGH’s efforts to combat the virus but has also donated significant funds to the TGH Foundation to help support the hospital he serves within.

Before the pandemic started, Dr. Chang successfully launched CareComm at TGH, which is a NASA-style “mission control” command center that uses artificial intelligence to predict and improve patient care. Since CareComm launched last year, the center has saved TGH more than $10 million in healthcare costs and dramatically decreased patient stays at the hospital. However, nobody could have predicted just how much of an impact data intelligence and CareComm would have during a global health crisis.

Dr. Chang and his team’s data-driven efforts helped move patient care to other areas of the hospital so TGH could quickly adapt and create negative pressure units for COVID-19 patients, while ensuring the safety of non-COVID patients and placing them in other areas of the hospital. In addition, Dr. Chang has been spearheading a healthcare system data exchange where 51 participating hospitals in Florida can submit COVID-19 patient data including number of patients awaiting test results, occupancy of negative pressure units, and ICU beds and ventilators to anticipate patients’ needs. Dr. Chang’s data initiative has helped the state of Florida know exactly what resources are available during the pandemic.

Since his tenure began at TGH, Dr. Chang has also been a longtime philanthropic supporter to the TGH Foundation. Most recently, Dr. Chang made a significant gift to TGH’s Team Member Emergency fund, which is a special fund designated to financially assist TGH team members in times of crisis who cannot afford to pay bills, mortgage or rent, utilities or other payment obligations. Dr. Chang is an incredible physician, data guru and asset at TGH. We are truly inspired how dedicated he is to patients, families and team members. The TGH Foundation is forever grateful to have a team member and partner like Dr. Pete Chang.
Rachel Arndt, Tampa Bay WatchThe opening of the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center during the pandemic.Innovation; Leadership; ResilienceThe Opening of the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery CenterIt’s been a long journey for Tampa Bay Watch to turn a dream into reality with the opening of our second facility, the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Center, at the new St. Pete Pier™. The replacement of the piers on the St. Petersburg waterfront has always been very controversial. The demolition of the last facility, the “inverted pyramid,” without a clear new design caused community conflict and concern. As the new design started to gain traction it was clear the new strategy would include an educational facility, which was one of the priorities of St. Petersburg community for the new pier. Tampa Bay has undergone dramatic water quality and habitat improvements over the last 30 years, unique in our country. Tampa Bay Watch clearly had a new opportunity to tell the story of the successful restoration of our coastal estuary in a public platform that the Pier provided. Our community overwhelming supported the project by passing a public referendum in the fall of 2018 by 82% allowing a long-term lease for Tampa Bay Watch operations at the St. Pete Pier.

Our vision for the Discovery Center is to offer a wide array of citizen science programs to expand public involvement in scientific discovery. The St. Petersburg City Council approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a lease agreement with Tampa Bay Watch for the development and operation of a Discovery Center on The Pier. Over the last few years our staff has worked double time in order to prepare for the opening of the Discovery Center while continuing to run our hands-on habitat restoration and environmental education programs. All of our staff took part in several workshops and brainstorming sessions in order to come up with interactive and engaging exhibits for the Discovery Center. The dedication of the Discovery Center was celebrated in April 2019 in appreciation of our generous sponsors including the Milkey Family Foundation who is the naming sponsor.

When the pandemic hit in March, the opening of the Discovery Center was pushed from May to late summer. Meanwhile work at the Discovery Center moved forward at a rapid pace in order to be ready for the approaching grand opening of the St. Pete Pier. We strived for the installation of equipment and the permanent exhibits, including onsite fabrication of our octagonal estuary tank to be completed. We then had to make a decision on how to celebrate the grand opening with our generous sponsors and partners with whom this exciting new chapter for our organization would not have been possible. We finally made the call to host two smaller-scale socially distanced celebration in order to congratulate everyone that worked so hard to make our new facility a reality.

Ultimately the opening date was announced to be July 6 of this year. There has been a great turnout so far with lots of wonderful comments from folks visiting for the first time. The Discovery Center is a significant new addition to the education and conservation efforts of Tampa Bay Watch, and is integral to the advancement of our mission. The facility allows us to vastly expand our reach to local, national, and international visitors. With more than 1.7 million visitors projected to visit The St. Pete Pier, the Discovery Center is expected to be one of the jewels of the new development along the St. Petersburg waterfront.
Gary Brosch, No Fret Guitar CampInnovative pivot to free zoom based music lessons and free guitarsGenerosity; InnovationThe joy of music through zoomNo Fret Guitar Camp is a non-profit, 100% volunteer ministry that gives teens hope, joy and a way to deal with stress and anxiety through the lifetime gift of music with free lessons and free guitars. The pandemic caused a pivot to innovative on-line lessons. It also brought the unanticipated benefit to all the kids who already had attended camps of having their guitars and music to help during the social isolation. (Zoom video clips are available to see a sample)
Tampa General Hospital Foundation - Jamie PowellSuncoast Credit UnionGenerosity; InnovationHelping to Connect Loved Ones During COVID-19Shortly after the pandemic began, healthcare facilities started to restrict visitation for the health and safety of their patients and staff. Tampa General Hospital (TGH) is the area’s leading safety net hospital, which means we provide care to every person, regardless of their ability to pay. Many of our patients do not have the means to purchase tablets or smart phones, which meant that they could talk to their loved ones, but could not see them. It is very hard to be in the hospital alone and even more challenging during a pandemic.

Suncoast Credit Union came to the aid of TGH patients and team members with a generous donation to help bridge the digital divide between hospitalized patients and their loved ones. A portion of the funds donated went towards purchasing iPads, tablets, headphones and other communication technology.

In addition to the purchase of communication tools, a portion of the Suncoast donation was applied to purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) for Tampa General Hospital team members on the front line of COVID-19.

Suncoast Credit Union’s generosity allowed TGH to fund an innovative alternative and brought families back together – virtually.
Dianne HorncastleBack to Work ProgramInnovation; ResilienceRebuilding LivesMirna came to the ECHO Opportunity Center seeking help with her resume and to find employment.

While our first focus is to take care of our neighbors' basic need for food and clothing through our food pantry and clothing center, our next step is to help them get back on their feet by providing life-rebuilding programs such as GED, Back to Work job readiness, or financial counseling.

Susan, our volunteer job coach in our Back to Work Job Readiness Program, and Dianne, our Opportunity Center Director, helped Mirna to identify the best way to present herself on her resume.

Mirna applied for a job, unfortunately, she did not get it. That didn't stop her or us, we continued to look for employment that might meet her needs. We contacted Mirna to set up an appointment to review a few jobs we had found, made pre-calls to the hiring managers, and was able to set up an opportunity for her to drop off her resume. But that's not all. While she was at ECHO, we practiced interview skills with her and, she left confident and assured.

The next day when she dropped off her resume, the hiring manager interviewed her on the spot and hired her. She started her job the following week. Mirna is just one of the many neighbors taking advantage of our one on one job readiness program.

#RebuildingLives one neighbor at a time.

Eleanor SaundersECHO of BrandonInclusion and Diversity; Innovation; ResilienceWho launches a sewing class in the middle of a pandemic?Aren't there bigger issues to address right now? I don't know...what about alleviating hunger?! I could not agree more.

That is exactly what our sewing class ultimately achieves.
Neighbors get to learn from Roslyn, our resident sewing instructor, who got her start at ECHO Handmade and is now an entrepreneur, selling her creations online and at local stores.

After taking our FREE Sewing 101 course our neighbors will gain the basic fundamentals needed to create one of a kind handmade projects.

THEY WILL LEARN TO:

Understand the basics of a sewing machine.
Discover how to thread and operate the machine.
Implement and practice the basics of sewing.
They will also be tasked to complete four (4) sewing projects. All materials provided for them to complete the four projects is absolutely FREE.

By leveraging their newly acquired skill, a breadwinner can create multiple opportunities to provide for her family.

I know it may sound crazy, but teaching someone to sew alleviates hunger. Not just today....but for years to come.
ECHO of BrandonBrandon Rotary ClubGenerosity; InnovationThe Generosity of our CommunityWhen COVID-19 hit Florida in force, ECHO shifted to a walk-up food distribution point. Quickly, we became overwhelmed by the need in the community. Hundreds of people were lining up outside our doors to receive food and just as many people were bringing us food each day. Our biggest worry during this time of great uncertainty and staggering need was inventory. As we reached out to store after store, seeking to buy food to give to our neighbors in need, we were told no. So, we had to rely completely on the generosity of the community. And man did they step up. The biggest contributor during this time was the Brandon Rotary. At the very beginning, they reached out, asking how they could help. When we expressed our supply issues, they asked us to send them a list of what we needed, and they headed to the store. Two separate times, the Brandon Rotary showed up with trucks and trailers, filled with every item we needed - thousands of pounds of cereal, potatoes, rice, soup, and much more. The food they gave and their monetary donations that they gave to ECHO allowed our doors to remain open through the entire shut down and put food on the table for over 15,000 people in our community.
Sara BattagliaDancing for DonationsGenerosity; Inclusion and DiversityInclusion in DanceDancers large and small, on their feet, using a wheelchair, with additional chromosomes, communication devices, and “typical” dancers leap, twirl, & plié alongside each other at Dancing for Donations.

A 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to make dance available and affordable to the community, Dancing for Donations is all inclusive, welcoming children of all abilities. Classes take place in Brandon and Riverview area, with special events and performances all over Tampa Bay. Dancing for Donations has a mission to spread joy and love through dance and instill the values of inclusion, acceptance, and giving back to the community to many young dancers! Dancers with special needs are not separated from their peers but are included and accommodated in the way they need. This may include pairing the dancer with a buddy, providing noise cancelling head phones, reading/providing social stories, and more.

Community outreach events include free classes to hospitals, Girl Scouts, children’s homes, and more. As well as, performances at nursing homes, Autism Speaks, Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome, and many other community events. Dancing for Donations typically gives a portion of class tuition back to the community through donations to other nonprofits and charities.

With an amazing team of teachers, Dancing for Donations offers ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, acro, hip hop, musical theatre, and voice lessons. They have a variety of classes specifically for homeschoolers and several boys only classes as well. The typical age to start is 3 (although they do have some 2 year olds!) and classes go all the way up to adults!
Paul Leek (Bay Area Legal Services)Bay Area Legal ServicesGenerosity; Inclusion and Diversity; Innovation; Leadership; ResilienceFrontline Heroes ProjectThe pandemic this year has affected our community in different ways, especially for our neighbors and friends who are deemed essential workers. One of the unfortunate truths we discovered during this pandemic was that many of our frontline essential workers are risking their health daily and not considering they have legal documents we can help them with. Thinking of impactful ways that our team could serve and assist the essential workers in our own backyard, we came up with the Frontline Heroes Project. This is a current effort that aims to help all frontline essential healthcare workers, grocery clerks, mail carriers, truck drivers, childcare workers, utility workers, and others with the free preparation of a Designation of Healthcare Surrogate Form or Living Will. With the partnership of the FL Bar’s Real Property Probate and Trust Law Section (RPPTL), we have enlisted the help of nearly 20 pro bono volunteer attorneys to help more than 30 essential workers and their families with completing these forms at no cost to them. We are thrilled to calm the nerves of our frontline heroes and have them share positive statements like the one below.

“Now my loved ones are alleviated from making tough decisions regarding my health with the advance directive project. The process was smooth, and everyone was so nice, I am so thankful for all those who worked on the frontline project.”

This collaborative effort has crossed county lines. We have the endorsement and full support of the Lead At-Large member for RPPTL’s 6th Judicial Circuit, Rebecca Bell, who serves Pinellas and Pasco County, as well as the Lead At-Large member for RPPTL’s 13th Judicial Circuit, Johnathan Butler who serves Hillsborough County. They meet with us weekly to help us develop the project and bring new ideas of how we can reach out to more essential workers.

We wanted this project to be convenient and safe for our essential workers to participate in. The Frontline Heroes Project has been a monthly recurring session that takes place via Zoom. Essential workers have the chance to meet with an experienced attorney, one-on-one, in a separate confidential Zoom breakout room to review and fill out their healthcare surrogate form or and living will. This initiative started in July and is going into its fourth month. To date, more than 30 pro bono volunteer hours have gone into this project to help our community heroes.

There’s been a great reception and participation from employees of the James A. Haley VA who have encouraged their doctors, nurses, physical therapists, psychiatrists, and other employees to take advantage of this project. It’s been an honor to serve those who have been on the frontline during this pandemic.

Bay Area Legal Services is a non-profit law firm whose objective is to help the most vulnerable people in our community by creating pathways to justice.

We are so grateful to the pro bono attorneys who have helped us strike into action and address this need during what has been a difficult and concerning time to us all. A very special thanks to Plant City attorney Harley Herman for coming up with this idea and allowing us to help fulfill the vision.

For any frontline essential worker to apply or get more information about this project, please email fhp@bals.org.
Elizabeth Szostak (Academy Prep Center of Tampa)StantecGenerosity; Innovation; LeadershipSTEM Classroom FundingStantec has led the way for Academy Prep's renovation of our math classrooms in 2020. With a focus on our STEM programming, Stantec has given a leadership gift to upgrade technology and resources for our math classes. These renovations will allow APT teachers to use updated technology and resources to teach in a constantly evolving tech world. This new partnership will allow our students to gain interest in the STEM fields. Through their partnership, Stantec will provide APT students with mentors to help students gain critical thinking skills to become informed citizens in a more complex and demanding world. In the coming year, Stantec will connect with APT graduates who are interested in pursuing STEM field careers. We are grateful for Stantec's investment in our students, who are our community's future leaders.
Elizabeth Szostak (Academy Prep Center of Tampa)Tech DataGenerosity; Leadership"Giving...Back To School" CampainTech Data has been a tremendous partner to Academy Prep Center of Tampa since we opened our doors. With the struggles with faced due to COVID-19, Tech Data stepped up to the plate to help our students continue their academic experiences. With a $10,000 leadership gift to APT's "Together We Can" campaign, their partnership has ensured that every students has the resources and tools and succeed during our time of virtual learning. Additionally, APT was selected a recipient of Tech Data's "Giving...Back to School" campaign. Their generous gift will provide the training and tools needed for our students and staff to uphold our values and dedication to our mission. Tech Data is truly a community partner who invests in the future leaders of our area!

https://blog.techdata.com/authority/business-insight/going-back-and-giving-back-to-school
Tampa General Hospital FoundationTogether for Tampa/Melissa Aughey/Radhika Khiroya PatelGenerosity; InnovationGoing above and beyond for healthcare heroesThe TGH Foundation would like to recognize Michelle Aughey and Radhika Khiroya Patel of Together for Tampa during AFP Tampa Bay Philanthropy week because of their innovative idea to feed our healthcare heroes while supporting local Tampa Bay Eateries during the city wide quarantine.

Michelle was in New Jersey caring for her mother who was enduring a tough battle against cancer when COVID-19 started to arise throughout the US. Her heart, however, was with her neighbors in Tampa Bay. What started as an idea on Nextdoor, a platform used to communicate with your neighbors, turned into a city-wide initiative and active social media platform run by Radhika that garnered more than $14,000 in meals and almost $400 in cash donations to TGH’s Team Member Emergency Fund, which assists team members who are in financial hardship.

By creating the group Together for Tampa, Michelle and Radhika kept Tampa General Hospital’s staff and frontline heroes well fed for more than two months. Something as simple as having a meal provided helped our healthcare heroes direct their focus on caring for their patients - since Together for Tampa was working to care for them.

The Together for Tampa initiative also helped support Tampa Bay eateries during an uncertain time of restaurant closures. Each restaurant chose which day of the week they would like to receive and deliver orders for TGH, which helped them order the proper product and have a larger staff on hand to prepare the meals. Weekly deliveries of 100+ meals helped our local eateries provide their staff with more hours and helped keep their income flowing throughout the week as they accepted the donated orders.
We are so grateful to Michelle Aughey and Radhika Khiroya Patel for all that they did to organize and raise support for this effort. They truly are COVID-19 Heros of Tampa Bay.

The restaurants that partnered with Together for Tampa are: Jackson's Bistro Bar & Sushi, Bulla Gastrobar, OGGI Italian Davis Islands, Pascal's Artisan Bistro and Gourmet Coffee, Zudar's on Platt, 220 East Restaurant and Bar, Islands Pizza Tavern, Farrell's on the Island, Louis Pappas Fresh Greek, Healthy N' Fresh Cafe, La Segunda Central Bakery, Si-Am Thaimerican, Swann Ave Market, Zydeco Brew Werks, and Datz.

Together for Tampa in the news:

ABC Action News
https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/region-hillsborough/tampa-general-hospital-first-responders-receive-meals-from-local-restaurants?fbclid=IwAR0k-Elz4UBTrd41ABDEmH8-E4gTVryKAGI-iLHe2fEEJ6oKiotGUjlydiE

Fox 13
https://www.fox13news.com/news/community-effort-feeds-hospital-workers-while-supporting-local-restaurants

Together for Tampa Website and Facebook Page: https://www.togetherfortampa.com/ https://www.facebook.com/TogetherForTampa/



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