Running for the homeless: Trick or Trot 5k Costume Fun Run

Hope for the Homeless at USF organized their first Trick or Trot 5k Costume Fun Run on Oct. 24. The goals for the 5k were to have people have fun while running the trail and to raise as much money as possible. The money collected supports local homeless people with care packages for the holidays. The organization had a raffle drawing with prizes and a costume contest. Winners received prizes from local supporters.

 

Trick or Trot brings donations, holiday spirit

As they approached the finish line, it was unclear whether Superman or the Ninja Turtle would get there first.

Eventually Superman edged to victory over Michelangelo, closely followed by Minnie Mouse, a pumpkin and a 6-foot Viking. This was all part of the Trick or Trot 5K Fun Run, which was held Oct. 24 by Help for the Homeless at the University of South Florida’s Fitness Trail.

“I think a lot of people had fun, and it was great with the music and with the raffle,” Stephanie Radu, president and founder of Hope for the Homeless at USF, said.

Radu, a biomedical sciences major, founded the organization in January of this year, with this being its first event. Each runner paid a $15 fee that was donated to the Ybor Youth Clinic.

“The money is going toward care packages that will all go to the homeless,” Radu said. “We will put a lot of effort into making and distributing them.”

Cameron Purvis of Florida College won the race with a time of 16:27 and was awarded a Halloween-themed trophy in the shape of a skull, despite not wearing a costume for the event.

“I actually kind of forgot about dressing up,” Purvis said. “Once we were on our way we were like ‘wow we forgot our costumes.’”

Purvis said he had not been training for this race in particular but decided to sign up when he saw the money raised was going to a good cause.

“I’ve been putting in a lot of mileage this season and was looking for a good race to sign up for,” Purvis said.

Over 100 people signed up for the race, which raised over $2,500 via donations and raffle ticket purchases. Radu’s goal was $3,000, but she was pleased with the result.

“I’m a little optimistic so I’m happy with $2,500,” Radu said.

Radu believes that not enough was being done for the homeless in Tampa, which is why she set up this organization.

“I feel very passionately about helping the homeless community,” Radu said. “We’re trying to get rid of that bad stigma that’s around them. There’s a lot of homeless youth in Tampa.”

After their first event, Radu is optimistic there will be many more. “We hope to hold another event in the spring and to make this event an annual one,” Radu said.

Some of the sponsors of the event had representatives at the race handing out free treats to participants. Amazon representatives, for example, were at the event giving out water bottles to runners after they had completed the race. They also donated items that were used as prizes in the raffle that took place.

There were many volunteers at the race who ensured everything went as smoothly as possible. The DJ, the referees and the event managers all volunteered to set up and run the event.

The DJ gathered a lot of attention after the raffle took place, playing “Cupid Shuffle” that made around 20 of the runners join in with the dance.

Even some of the adults dressed up. Photo by Connor Vice
Some of the adults even dressed up. Photo by Connor Vice.

Tailgating with Golden Brahman Tailgate Club

USF Bulls tailgate with the Golden Brahman Tailgate Club

Channeling true USF spirit, the Golden Brahmans Tailgate Club gets set for another Saturday of USF football.
Channeling true USF spirit, the Golden Brahmans Tailgate Club gets set for another Saturday of USF football.
USF Alumni Connor Davis and his some Jake share time playing cornhole before the game.
USF Alumni Connor Davis and his son Jake share time playing cornhole before the game.
Brats are a classic Saturday afternoon tailgate snack.
Brats are a classic Saturday afternoon tailgate snack for any football fan.
These Bulls have herded up under the tent to keep cool in the fall heat.
These Bulls have herded up under the tent to keep cool in the fall heat. Staying “hydrated” is half the battle.
The grill, and the Brahmans are fired up for the game against SMU.
The grill, and the Brahmans are hungry and fired up for the game against SMU.
The Bulls flag flying on a beautiful day over the Golden Brahman.
The Bulls flag flying on a beautiful day over the Golden Brahman and the Bulls Nation.

Tailgating and football are such cultural passions in this part of the country and this is some of what a real, organized tailgate looks like. Also, I wanted to dispel the fact that football fans and tailgaters are unstoppable drunks. The Brahmans are a family friendly group that encourages families and children of USF alumni to join them in their festivities. I took various photos of the event itself, the food being cooked and served and some of the various activities people were doing at the tailgate.

Photo: Lunch at Trinity Cafe

Trinity Cafe is a free restaurant that provides hot meals to the homeless, hungry and working poor. However, Trinity Cafe is about more than providing a meal, It is about treating guests with compassion and respect they might not normally receive. Trinity Cafe’s lunch service takes place Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The lunch service includes enthusiastic volunteers who will serve guests drinks, a meal and provide them with conversation. At Trinity Cafe, you will find kindhearted people and delicious food.

Students Escape Stress at USF Botanical Gardens

Located just steps from some of the most popular spots on the University of South Florida campus lies a hidden gem, the USF Botanical Gardens.

From whimsical plant displays and breathtaking views of the water to educational facilities, the gardens have been offering a wide variety of services to USF students for over three decades.

The gardens were established in 1969 and were used primarily as a research and education facility. Throughout the 1970’s the biology department was the only educational group to conduct research within the gardens.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980’s that the area was expanded, incorporating the palm garden, wetland forest and many of the other displays seen today. During this expansion period university staff aimed to create an area that all students could use. Garden Director Laurie Walker says that today almost every college utilizes the space.

“We have classes from the college of fine arts, arts and sciences and engineering,” Walker said.

However, as the gates opened to the public in the 1990’s the gardens shifted to incorporate aspects of relaxation and recreation.

“We also have picnic tables, benches, beautiful places to sit and relax and study or have lunch drawing in the public for a unique look at Florida’s natural beauty,” Walker said.

University of South Florida sophomore Mack Galdames says it is the perfect place for him to take a break from the stress of school work.

“I usually come out here by the lake and sometimes just stare or I’ll read a book or play guitar,” Galdames said. “It’s just a wonderful peaceful place. It’s isolated and it’s not isolated, it’s got a balance to it.”

Tampa veterans get a new beginning

New Beginnings of Tampa strives to be a light in the community. With their ability to feed and house the homeless, they also provide a program for a community that is often overlooked: veterans.

“We have about a total of 200 in the program now, and about 50 of them are vets. Most of the vets come as a referral from Veterans Affairs, or sometimes they just come right off the street,” says founder, Tom Atchison, “The most important thing is, is they have a clean environment, a safe environment to stay, a good three meals a day and snacks, it’s very important for their well being.”

New Beginnings is willing to whatever it takes to keep veterans off the street.

“I came down and they had a bed for me and that was a week ago today,” said veteran Kenney Farley.

New Beginnings doesn’t just provide housing for their veterans, they prepare them to get back into the real world.

“Right now we’re running very close to 100 percent as far as getting jobs. There’s plenty of jobs out there for those that will be responsible, show up on time to work and so sometimes that takes a little life training skills on how to hold a job,” Atchison said.

New Beginnings wants their veterans to feel at home, but also assigns them duties to make sure their quarters are clean and tidy to help create good habits and responsibility.

“I seem to get along with everybody, they’re pretty friendly, you know. I’m happy,” said Farley.

So it seems to be a happy ending for everybody at New Beginnings.

Even veteran, Leif Dereng is ecstatic about earning his new housing voucher. He explained how happy he was and laughed saying, “no more woods.”

Many of the veterans stay at New Beginnings between four to six months, where they work to get back on their feet and out into the workforce again.

 

 

 

Davis shows perseverance pays

Andre Davis, former University of South Florida wide receiver (2011-14), currently holds 13 football program records, including career receptions, single game receptions and career receiving touchdowns.

“I feel like I play a nice little part in USF history, being that I came in to USF and broke a few records.” he said.

As arguably the best receiver in USF program history, the “Freakshow” says it’s “a blessing” to hold these top spots, but more importantly to be a part of USF’s legacy.

“Just being able for players from the future to be able to come in and see my face on plaques is something that you dream of.” he said.

Though the former team captain has graduated and moved on from playing for the Bulls, he’s still active with the current team. He frequently attends practices, attends home games on the sidelines  and mentors current players, hoping to positively impact “future USF history makers.”

“I look at all the players and the younger guys up under me as little brothers. I tell them to be leaders and that even though there may be hard times, you have to fight through them.” he said.

Specifically, Davis mentors current USF safety Nate Godwin, as both classify themselves “Bay Made, Bay Stayed” after growing up in Tampa Bay and staying in the area for college.

“Me and Dre are very close. He just shows me how to handle success and be humble.” Godwin said. “He leads by example. He’s a legend in my books, and he’s a legend in their books. He’s one of the guys I know they’re definitely going to remember.” Godwin said.

When asked about the legacy he left as a Bull, Davis didn’t talk about his records, game-winning touchdowns, or making it in the USF history books.

“It’s more than that.” Davis said. “The legacy that I left here at USF is definitely being a leader, a hard worker, and a guy that persevered through a lot of things. That’s it.”

Since his days as a Bull, Davis had a short stint with the Buffalo Bills, and is currently a NFL free agent.

The healing power of yoga

The co-founder of a new facility is taking a unique approach in helping veterans in the Tampa Bay area cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Janel Norton has served our country as a combat photojournalist for the U.S. Air Force, now she serves in her community by helping other veterans.

“I experienced what I now know was post-traumatic stress when I returned home” Said Janel.

After being stationed in both Liberia and Bosnia, she decided to come back to the United States, but the transition wasn’t easy.

“I got really angry when I came back,” Norton said. “People don’t even know what’s going on over there. I felt very disconnected with everybody and nobody understood anything I had been living through for the last couple of years”

She then discovered the healing power of yoga and had the idea of opening an establishment where local veterans could meet and experience this healing together. After meeting with a prior green beret, they started the Veterans Alternative.

Member and Afghanistan war veteran David Jones is only one of the many veterans that has benefited from this class.

“She’s done wonders as far as you know helping me sleep with this iRest,” Jones said.

iRest is a form of yoga made accessible to everyone. This stress reducing class helps veterans tap into their inner resource.

“We have a small population that we’re serving, but there’s many more,” Norton said.

Local bakery carries on a 100 year legacy

If fresh food and baked goods is what you’re looking for, Alessi Bakery is your place to find it all.

Alessi Bakery has served the Tampa Bay area its sweet delights for over a century. Founded in 1912 by the patriarch, Nicolo Alessi, the establishment offers a variety of baked goods, wedding cakes and a catering service. There’s one retail location and a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.

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With this sign out front, you won’t ever miss Alessi Bakery.

“We’ve got quite a brand,” said Phil Alessi, Nicolo’s grandson and former owner of Alessi Bakery. “If you ask anyone in Tampa about Alessi Bakery, they’ll be familiar with the name. Of course, we’ve been around 100 years and have always given back to the community.”

General Manager Tiffany Pennington says Alessi Bakery’s only location on Cypress Street is as crowded as any establishment in the area.

“We get a lot of neighborhood traffic,” she said. “Lots of traffic all day long with hundreds of people coming in the doors.”

Customers from around the Bay Area head to Alessi Bakery during the breakfast and lunch rush or some choose to receive something more personal.

“I had my wedding cake and baby shower cake from here,” Tammie Borden said. “I frequent here all the time to get lunch. It’s close by, with fresh food and good quality service.”

Besides decadent desserts, other featured items include Alessi’s signature scachatta pizza, guava turnovers and Cuban sandwiches.

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Doesn’t Alessi’s signature scachatta look delicious?

Walking into the place would make one easily aware of the plethora of items cooking, from one course to another.

“The catering is banging out all kinds of stuff,” Pennington said. “It’s really a big production going on almost all day long.”

The big production got its start from small, humble beginnings, something Phil Alessi will always remember.

“It took a lot of courage to do what he did,” he said, referring to his grandfather. “He didn’t have any money, didn’t speak the language. And he came in and started a business.”

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Creative signs like these make Alessi Bakery unique.

 

Local brewery informs beer lovers

 

 

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Some of Yuengling’s offerings
People lining up at the brewery
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The Yuengling bar area
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Visitors enjoying the tour
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Free beer samples

Although  D.G. Yuengling and Sons began selling beer in Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1829, this Tampa brewery has been making a southern name for itself and the Yuengling brand since 1999.

Hospitality Manager and brew house tour guide Elizabeth Moroney has been with Tampa’s branch from the start. When she left her job as an RN for a pediatrician in 1999, she says that the Yuengling sales force consisted of her loading six-packs into her car, and driving around Tampa asking restaurants to try the new beer in town.

Now, she says “People are crying out for this product. We are like the Coors of the 21st century now.”

Yuengling is keeping up with the demands as a “21st century Coors” beer company with the release of the Summer Wheat beer, a seasonal brew currently available on the Florida market. Although the beer made its debut in 2014, its recipe has since been tweaked for the 2015 summer season.

Yuengling tour guide Bredon Hobson explains, “It’s the first time we’ve ever done a wheat beer. We kind of got it a little bit smoother.”

Fellow tour guide Maureen Brake says “The impression of [the Summer Wheat] this year is very positive.” She says that those who are sampling the beer at the end of their brewery tour “are definitely asking where they can go about finding the product and how they can find it in the market.”

Brake also told me this is not the only exciting development at Yuengling. The company has plans to release yet another seasonal beer this November.  It will join the Summer Wheat and the Octoberfest on the list of Yuengling seasonal beers.

Brake says “Our brew-master developed it almost six years ago, it’s his baby.”

However, further details about this addition to the Yuengling beer menu, including its ingredients, recipe and name are still tightly bottled up.

Brake says “I don’t know if they’ve released the name of it yet, I think it’s secret. But we’ve tried it.”

And Moroney and Brake say they like it. Brake was actually recruited as a tour guide by Moroney in 2010. Brake says that teaching new tour guides is her favorite part of the job.

She says “Teaching them what I do and doing it well, and taking pride in the company is important to me.”

Moroney says she enjoys “the versatility of the job, working for a great company. It’s a family owned company, which makes a big difference.”

Brake says “Yuengling of Tampa specifically offers a very relaxed environment that is just fun.”

Those of legal age interested in visiting the Yuengling brewery of Tampa and doing what Brake says is “something that’s different and unique” can visit http://www.yuengling.com/breweries/tampa for more information on brewery tour times and Yuengling news. The website is also equipped with a “Beer Finder” to help customers locate the Summer Wheat or any beer near them.

 

History, future of cigars in Ybor City

When thinking of Ybor City, cigars usually come to mind. This is because the city wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the cigar business that Vicente Martinez-Ybor brought to the Tampa Bay area. Martinez-Ybor came to what is now Ybor City in 1885, and the rest is history.

The cigar industry brought several different cultures to Tampa, with the largest group being Cubans. Cubans brought their techniques for hand-rolling tobacco into cigars, creating a huge boom in population for Ybor City.

There are about a dozen cigar shops in Ybor. Some are strictly distributors and others produce hand-rolled cigars. One thing they all have in common is a strong customer base. The stores serve local customers, as well as those from other states and countries.

John Watson, a retiree, works at Metropolitan Cigars in his free time. A cigar smoker all of his life, Watson uses his broad knowledge of cigars to help customers find the right cigar for them.

“We get a lot of tourists in here from Europe,” Watson said. “They come in here specifically looking for cigars.”

For the past several decades, highly sought after Cuban cigars have been absent from Ybor City and the rest of the country. These cigars have been considered the forbidden fruit in the cigar world due to their taste and unavailability. However, negotiations between the United States and Cuba have made the possibility of Cuban cigars in Ybor more prevalent.

Dr. August Mauser, a retired University of South Florida professor from the USF Department of Special Education, has been operating his own cigar business— AJ’s Cigars To Go of Tampa—for the past decade. Mauser has been able to find Cuban cigars a few times in the past and finds their future interesting.

“With Cuba opening up, that’s going to mean that we’re going to have Cuban cigars, but it won’t be at least a couple years,” Mauser said. “Cuban tobacco is the finest in the world.”

The future of the cigar industry is up in the air, but cigar lovers can find a multitude of quality cigars in Ybor City. Cigars have built Ybor City and are continuing to bring people to Tampa.

MOSI plans new exhibit

 

 

The Tampa Museum of Science and Industry is working on adding a new major exhibit that is scheduled to be up and running sometime this year.

“We’re not quite ready to reveal any secrets just yet,” said Megan Haskins, a member of MOSI Marketing and Communications, “but let’s just say we have some very exciting things coming, hopefully as early as the fall, so stand by.”

MOSI used to have a history of hosting traveling exhibits, such as a Titanic exhibit or Bodies, but in recent years the museum staff has decided to halt those and instead create their own new exhibits.

“We’ve decided to take an internal look at our core experience,” said Tanya Vomaka, Vice President of Guest Experience and Marketing. “We’ve been working very hard on updating our current visitor experience.”

While the museum staff has been very quiet about their new exhibit, they have said it has something to do with “looking to the future.”

The last major new addition to the museum was the inclusion of a 3-D printer exhibit, where visitors can watch the printer in action and see some of its creations.

The entertainment and education the museum provides makes it popular with families, getting roughly 500,000 to 800,000 guests per year, despite the big theme parks nearby.

MOSI admission is only a little over $20, and as a non-profit organization, ticket prices help to fund summer camp programs, MOSI’s own education classes and various scholarships.

Tampa’s Cheese Please has plenty to offer

 

 

 

Cheese and wine collide at the Cheese Please located at 3225 S. MacDill Ave. in Tampa.

Cheese Please began ultimately as a love for cheese and bringing it back from Europe to the Tampa Bay community.

” No plan and no concept it was just one conversation and we (co-owner Carlos Kanamori) jumped into it,” co-owner of Cheese Please Michael Jones said.

 

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Cheese Please located in South Tampa

 

The shop has every cheese from A to Z, mostly from Europe, and they come at quite a cost.

“The most expensive cheese we have is the Pecorino with Truffles at $30 a pound,” Cheese Please salesperson Ciata Choice said.

And with respect to the wine, the most expensive wine bottle is $41.95.

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Cheese Please hosts tastings Friday and Saturday nights and once a month on Thursdays

 

Cheese Please also has a wine bar, better known as Clooney’s Wine Bar for the actor George Clooney,  for those that just want to relax after a long day.

The highlight of the shop, however, is its cheese and wine tastings and private parties that occur on a weekly basis.

“We always have a tasting Friday and Saturday nights, typically private parties we have two or three a week, so now there are anywhere between four to six events every week,” Jones said.

 

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One of the many jellies and spreads available to purchase in the shop

 

The tastings consist of eight courses of cheese with and without a condiment as well as pre-selected wines throughout the tasting.

“My role (in the tastings) is more focused on the wine,” Kanamori said. “I do it because I like to do more of the pairings of the wines. That’s what I enjoy pairing with the wines and the cheeses during the tastings.”

And Jones is the star of the show.

“I’m anything, anytime, anywhere,” he said. “I’m more of the entertainer.”

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One of the signature pieces of the shop. A Michael Jones favorite.

 

The high heels can be seen throughout the shop and they are something special to Jones.

“I love shoes on women, and it started out as Carlos hated the concept that I would order shoes to hold the wine bottles, so just to annoy Carlos I ordered more,” Jones said.

Tickets are $30 each. To make a reservation call (813) 805-2743 or (813) 766-0060. You can pre-order online at cheesepleasetampa.com as well.

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One of the many signs that occupy the shop

 

USF implements reading days to help relieve stress of finals 

 

TAMPA, Fla.- The University of South Florida’s academic calendar has some changes that will help students during the most stressful time of the year, finals week.

When USF students were asked if they knew what reading days are, most were unaware of the calendar change.

“I do not know what reading days are,” said Erica Exalien.

“Kind of, I’ve heard about it but I’m not totally sure,” said Cole Nixon.

The spring 2016 semester will accommodate for two reading days on Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29. There will be no assignments due, tests given or even class on these days.

“Reading days are a period between the semester and the beginning of finals… so traditionally it’s used for students to prepare for finals,” said Student Body President Andy Rodriguez. “The amount of time varies depending on the school so some schools do one day, some schools do two days, some schools do three days, and there’s also schools that do an entire week off from school to prepare for finals.”

Other Florida universities have also implemented these reading days for spring 2016. This includes the University of Central Florida with one day, the University of Florida with two and the University of North Florida with three. Positive feedback is being heard around the state.

“It will give students an opportunity to be a little less stressed out when trying to prepare for one of the most stressful times of the year,” Rodriguez said. “Finals is when you will see students not eating, not sleeping or their hygiene is lacking because they need to get ready for what a bulk of their grade is going to be.”

Wheels are rolling in Tampa

The 22nd Annual Tampa Am skating competition dropped into the Skate Park of Tampa, drawing out hundreds of people to watch young skaters prove themselves in the world of extreme sports.

The event takes place over three days, with two qualifying rounds and finals. The winner advances on to compete in Street League, a nationally broadcast skateboarding event that opens doors to sponsorship opportunities and professional skating careers.

“It’s kind of like an art, making my mind create things I like to do,” competitor Miles McKenny says about skating. “Seeing me progress is another good thing.”

This is something McKenny hopes he can pass down to future generations of skaters, saying that his favorite thing to do is help younger skaters work on their tricks.

There was a sense of community throughout the entire three-day event, and as the pool of competitors became smaller and smaller, the crowd became bigger and bigger. The sense of community is what keeps a lot of skaters going.

“You walk around and everyone has the same feeling as you,” Daniel Toss said. “It’s a good group of people and something fun to do.”

 

From the fields to the classroom

From the fields to the classroom, Marcos Gonzalez is an inspiration to his family and fellow USF students.

Growing up, Gonzalez was raised by migrant farmers who moved from city to city looking for work.

With each change of season, the Gonzalez family would be on their way to a new environment. They had no choice but to follow the crops in order to keep their family fed.

Gonzalez had to play the role of both son and student, which proved to be difficult.

“I did dual enrollment to ensure that college was an option,” Gonzalez said. “I would drive an hour to school and then an hour back, play baseball so that I had extracurriculars under my belt, then go work in the fields with my father.”

With dreams of his future constantly on his mind, Gonzalez worked diligently to apply to schools and scholarships. Sometimes, his migrant lifestyle got in the way of his college plans.

“I was actually a finalist for the Gates Millennium Scholarship for a quarter of a million dollars. Due to my migrant lifestyle, my GPA suffered and I didn’t meet the requirements.”

Even with these setbacks, he persevered. A member of the business community at USF, Gonzalez is also an ambassador and a world traveler. But he still believes that his family is what is most important.

“I have studied abroad in China and Italy yet I still work in the fields with my dad every summer. I guess some things will never change.”

Local boutique dresses women for success, teaches them to succeed

On North Howard Avenue hides a closet haven for Tampa women. Dress for Success of Tampa Bay is a non-profit organization that provides women with the attire for a professional career and the confidence as well.

The women of Dress for Success give women confidence, support and the little push needed to get women into the workforce.

“Most people know us for giving out suits, but we do more than that. We give out the suits, but we also give women hope,” said Katie McGill, executive director.

Dress for Success offers a 9-week career program called the “Going Places Network” which is for unemployed women seeking employment. During those nine weeks the participants have three mock interviews, a job coach and resume building classes. Along with building career skills, the program also increases the women’s confidence.

“It’s amazing! We are at over 83% placement. And what I see, they come in and it’s the confidence. They had no confidence and the self-esteem is low. And by the end of that nine weeks, when they have the graduation, they are totally different women,” said McGill.

After receiving her diploma Liliana–a recent graduate from the Going Places Network, expressed her appreciation and gratitude for Dress for Success during a speech she gave.

“The Going Places program has been exceptional. I did not know that programs like this existed before. I liked it so much I would like to repeat,” Liliana said.

Now  in its 17th year, Dress for Success Tampa Bay is looking forward to many more years of helping, empowering and giving back to the women of Tampa Bay.

“I love Dress for Success because I see how it really makes women feel and change. The whole thing is to empower them so they can empower someone else,” said McGill.

 

 

 

 

Company bridges gap between disabled people and employers

Randolph Link is no longer dealing with depression alone, he found The Diversity Initiative (TDI) and together they work on his confidence.

With several locations throughout the Tampa Bay area, TDI helps hundreds of people every year.

“Here it was very directed, they helped me with my resume, beef up my resume,” TDI client Randolph Link said. “And, they pointed me in the direction of companies that were really tailored made and suited for me. That’s why it was really good.”

Link recently closed his case successfully and now works from home in customer service.

“The ambition that a person has really dictates how well they are going to do, and I came in with a lot of ambition,” Link said. “And, they really helped me just by being there for me and helping me with my disabilities.”

TDI employment consultants work directly with their clients, helping them find a job.

“At least once a week, we have to coach them at work, we have to teach them how to be working, teach them how to wake up in the morning and take a shower and get up and go to work,” TDI Employment Consultant Margarita Rosario said.

According to Wallethub’s study, Tampa is ranked in the Top 10 for best cities for people with disabilities.

The process with a client at TDI consists of multiple professional workshops and educational programs.

“We can be working with them forever, or we can be working with them for two years,” Rosario said. “And, sometimes when they feel really comfortable they can be by themselves.”

This local organization financially secures its clients.

“So, it’s a good feeling to work and become tired from work, rather than just being tired because I’m depressed all the time,” Link said.

For more information, visit tdiworks.org

Increase in gun-related crime around Tampa makes USF sophomore wary

University of South Florida sophomore Emily Stencil never imagined she would feel unsafe around her own home.

Stencil, who has lived in apartments off campus during both of her years at USF, takes her dog Roxie for a walk every day she comes home from school. She then rides her bike if the sun is shining, and occasionally makes the 5-minute walk to campus.

Now, however, Stencil is beginning to rethink her routine, because of fear for her safety.

“I’ve never been afraid of leaving my doors unlocked or walking my neighborhood alone,” Stencil said. “Now, I’m afraid to leave my house past 8 o’clock.”

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According to Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, there have been 235 gun-related crimes this year, up from 164 during this time last year.

The increase in crimes also includes 15 homicides — more than double the amount of this time last year.

Gun theft also has drastically increased since last year. According to TPD, 117 guns were stolen this year. That’s 65 more than this time last year.

Most eye-opening of all is that in the 10 days prior to March 23, 10 teenagers died from shootings.

One case involved a 14-year-old male who was shot and killed at a birthday party on March 21. Police estimate that dozens witnessed the crime, but none have come forward with information.

In another case March 14, Tampa teen Ikeim Bowell was killed in what was ruled an accidental shooting by the department.

According to the Tampa Tribune, a group of Bowell’s friends found a gun in a relative’s house they assumed was unloaded. But shortly after they started playing with it, the gun went off and shot Bowell in the neck.

“In the majority of the cases, witnesses and even victims are reluctant to cooperate with detectives,” Castor said in a statement. “The Tampa Police Department is urging citizens to get involved to stop the violence.”

Castor used a March 16 news conference to encourage members of the public to speak up if they have any information.

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While gun-related crimes have risen in the city, major crimes on USF’s Tampa campus have dropped in the past four years.

According to the USF Police Department, in 2010 the crime rate dropped more than 19 percent from the previous year.

The USF Police Department reports that crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault and burglary have dropped 45 percent, but arrests have increased 52 percent.

USF Police lieutenant Marty King credited the improved efforts of officers for the drop in on-campus crime.

According to a release, more DUI checkpoints were added to areas surrounding campus. Officers also underwent extensive training, and a stronger traffic enforcement has led to the decrease in crimes.

The clearance rate, which is the number of reported cases successfully solved, has increased every year.

“Most importantly is the partnership we have with our community,” King said. “This partnership allows our campus community many options to report suspicious activity or crimes in progress. These efforts, coupled with the crime prevention initiatives we provide, can all play a factor in reducing crime.”

Still, Stencil is worried.

If the crime rate continues to increase, Stencil said she will consider moving on-campus to a dormitory, where she hopes she will be safer.

“It’s not something I want to do,” Stencil said. “But if it can save my life, I’m going to do it.”