Trinity Cafe helps people in need in more ways than one

Trinity Cafe is a nonprofit restaurant in Tampa that serves meals to the hungry and food insecure — people who are not sure where their next meal is coming from.

“I can tell you what it’s not,” Don Gould, a volunteer manager, said. “It’s not a soup kitchen.”

Trinity is open every day of the year. The cafe is able to run smoothly with the help of 32 volunteers per day, as well as grants and donations from the community. The staff prides themselves on being able to set Trinity apart from other restaurants of its kind by the way they treat their guests.

“Their motto is to serve with dignity, kindness and respect,” Ellen Wolfe, a three year volunteer, said. “Why this place is different is because we want to pat them on the back, we want to hear their story, we want to love them.”

Guests at Trinity Cafe receive a three-course meal and a volunteer host at their table. The host’s job is to sit with the guests and have a conversation with them. Last year, 10,690 volunteers helped serve 99,222 meals. Trinity served their one millionth meal last year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to a retired policeman and military veteran named John.

“For the people that we serve, it’s priceless,”said Gould. “There’s a huge hunger need across the country, especially in Hillsborough County.”

Trinity Cafe has been serving meals for 15 years. A second location, Trinity 2, will open on Busch Boulevard this year.

My Daughter’s Keeper Of Tampa Bay

Donna Welch has made it her mission to educate young girls about their worth and their choices.

“We have learned that girls can have so many challenges in their life,” Welch said. “So having a program where they can come—it’s a platform open to the young ladies to discuss all the issues that relate to them…we cover it all.”

Welch established My Daughter’s Keeper of Tampa Bay, Inc. (MDK) in 2007. The St. Petersburg mentoring program aims to encourage and empower young women ages 10 to 18. The girls meet weekly to discuss anything from school to relationships to aspirations. The program also organizes workshops for the girls on etiquette, personal development, and any other needs the girls may have.

“I think that a lot of what is being talked about now is self-esteem issues and being confident in who you are and in your own skin,” mentor NaKeena Cromartie said.

There are currently 25 to 30 girls enrolled in the program. When Welch is not working with them, she is touring the Bay area, giving speeches and offering her services. Welch has an open door policy and loves when previous mentees like Cromartie come back to help out with the program.

“That’s the rewarding part,” Welch said, “to be able to see the young ladies that go off to school, or you know the military or whatever they choose to do in life, but they don’t forget the program that helped them get there.”

“I’ve known Ms. Donna for a very long time,” Cromartie said. “And she’s not only been and instructor from the MDK perspective…but also like a godmother to me.”

Welch hopes to continue to influence young girls by expanding her program to Tampa.

Education Abroad makes international study a reality for USF students

Study abroad is an experience that few students are taking advantage of. Approximately 10 percent of undergraduates in the United States study abroad, according to the Institute of International Education.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity that so many students bypass just because of so many common myths like it’s expensive, or it’s not for me, or it’s not for my major,” Chris Haynes, student program coordinator for USF Education Abroad, said. “I feel like if they can come in and talk with me or talk with some of our GloBull Ambassadors who have been there and done that, we can really make this experience a reality. They also see the value in it.”

Education Abroad is working to improve the number of students who study abroad. They have teamed up with USF Career Services to inform people about the benefits.

“For an employer standpoint, we generally look for the whole person,” USF career consultant Doug Meyn said. “Yes, they may have had an internship, yes they may have had study abroad, but more importantly, what do those experiences mean? In other words, on a resume, I don’t like to just see, ‘I did this study abroad.’ OK, what did that mean to you? What did you learn from it? How does that make you a more well-rounded person?”

USF offers a wide variety of programs for its students, with over 100 Education Abroad trips in over 25 countries. Each program’s itinerary has a mix of scheduled activity and free time to explore. The aim is for students to be able to take away a unique cultural experience.

“The whole point is to get students onto the next level, whether that be in their professional careers or in graduate school,” Haynes said. “Study abroad is really a great stepping stone to make their resumes and their applications as competitive as possible. I think that’s something that I hope one day all students consider.”

Different perspectives on USF’s Tobacco and Smoke Free Policy

USF has implemented a new Tobacco and Smoking Free Policy. Tobacco and smoking are now prohibited from the Tampa campus, which means that the university’s 24 designated smoking areas no longer exist.

“USF made this change because the university is committed to providing a healthy and safe environment for people to learn in and for people to work in,” USF media and public affairs manager, Adam Freeman, said. “By going tobacco and smoke free for the entire campus, we’re hoping to promote a healthy lifestyle and a lifestyle built around wellness for all members of the community.”

The policy went into effect Jan. 4 before the spring semester started. The university is aiming for the policy to be peer enforced. This can be done by asking people who are smoking to stop or by contacting the building manager nearest to where the smoking is taking place. Students caught smoking can be taken to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to face disciplinary action. Staff and faculty can be brought before their supervisors. However, the consequences do not seem to be a deterrent.

“I think that it’s definitely a good idea, absolutely,” USF junior Nick Salsone said. “I see that a lot of people don’t follow the rules, but I think that they should.”

There are still plenty of people smoking on campus. The word “free” was scratched off of one of the tobacco and smoke free campus signs.

“I think if people want to smoke, they should be able to,” sophomore Madeline McKeever said. “People are going to do it regardless, so the signs don’t really stop anyone.”

USF’s St. Petersburg and Sarasota campuses already have tobacco free policies. USF Tampa has been working towards a tobacco free campus for the past four years.