Pinellas County Makes Strides To End Breast Cancer

 

Pinellas County is saving lives and raising money one stride at a time. The American Cancer Society event, “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” took place this past Saturday.

Participants and sponsor groups gathered at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg to show their support for the cure for breast cancer.

“I’ve been a survivor for twelve years,” Martine Saber, a walk participant said. “I’ve done the walk for twelve years. It feels great to come out and see all the recognition for men and women with breast cancer.”

A combination of 194 sponsor teams and supporters raised over $143,000 for this year’s walk. The proceeds from the walk go to the American Cancer Society or ACS, to contribute to the process of finding the cure for breast cancer and special services.

Services include transporting patients without vehicles to their cancer treatment facilities. To ensure that all patients feel and look their best during treatment, ACS gives a bag filled with $250 worth of Sephora, Clinique and SmashBox makeup products and hair products.

“I believe in what this event is all about,” Jane Saml, ACS board member and five year survivor said. “This is for efficacy, this is for education, and this is for research. It’s important.”

The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks happen in various counties throughout Florida and the United States all during the month of October. According to the ACS website, Florida counties averaged $50,000 to $100,000.

“We’ve got to end breast cancer,” Saml said. “We’ve got to find a cure for breast cancer and all cancers. I’ve been a cheerleader for patients these past two years and I’d love to know that I made a difference. ”

For more information on upcoming fundraising projects for the American Cancer Association visit AmericanCancerSociety.org

 

USF student with diabetes undeterred by medical condition

 

diabetes Elizabeth Sullivan
Students With Diabetes member Elizabeth Sullivan

 

TAMPA, Fl– Confusion. Dizziness. Shakes. Hunger. Headaches and irritability. All of these are symptoms of low blood sugar. They can affect a college student’s concentration and lead to poor grades, as well as being a serious health risk.

Students managing their diabetes find it can be a journey of ups and downs, with high blood sugar being just as dangerous as low blood sugar. Every day can be a challenge depending on how they handle their meals, take their insulin and exercise. Always having to worry about if they’ve done everything right affects their lives on a larger scale.

Diabetes plays a role in the workplace as well. Bosses and co-workers might wonder if you’re healthy enough to do your job, what you’re doing with the syringes and why you have to have snacks during the day.

Elizabeth Sullivan is a graduate student at USF with Type I diabetes and she has dealt with the ups and downs of diabetes every day, but she has not let it define her life.

Sullivan joined the USF chapter of Students With Diabetes about two years ago because she wanted to get involved with the group. After graduating from Stetson, she came back to the Tampa Bay area and the founder of the organization, Nicole Johnson, asked her to run the Tampa Bay Students With Diabetes chapter. She acts as a coordinator for the chapter, planning events and reaching out to students with diabetes.

Sullivan knows what it’s like to live with diabetes and manage a school and work schedule. “Every day is a new challenge,” she said. “You never know what your blood sugar is gonna be like, you never know if it’s going to affect your ability to perform well in class or in tests. If you have low or high blood sugar right before a test, you memory goes right out the window.”

Even though diabetes research is ongoing, there is no prospect for a cure any time soon. New medications, therapies and strategies for dealing with diabetes show up regularly in the news every day however, leading to hope that a cure will be found soon.

Sullivan gets excited when she hears about new developments in diabetes research.

“One of the ones I’m most looking forward to is the artificial pancreas,” Sullivan said. “We brought in Dr. Ed Damiano, who is the one developing the bionic pancreas and he’s already gone through at least ten years of research for this and they’ve done clinical trials and gotten really amazing results.”

Diabetes affects millions of people in the U.S., and it seems the numbers are increasing. A report by the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia states more than 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, which is more than the previous estimate of 26 million in 2010. As bad as that sounds, the report also says that one in four people may not realize they have it.

The National Diabetes Statistics Report 2014 also has statistics on people aged 20 years or older, prime college student age, with 1.7 million new diabetes cases as of 2012. Attending college, working and maintaining a social life is tough enough as it is, but students with diabetes face even more challenges in managing these activities.

According to Francesca Sgambato, administrative specialist at the USF Student Health Clinic, there is not currently a special program for diabetic students but the clinic is willing and able to help students who have or think they might have diabetes.

“We can offer to do any type of labwork or testing they might need,” Sgambato said. “The providers can provide them with medication, if they feel that they might benefit from seeing a nutritionist, we do have one in-house that we would be able to refer them to.”

Sgambato recommends that students who have diabetes or think they have symptoms should go to the USF Student Health Clinic and get their blood sugar levels checked. The staff can then suggest treatment.

Sullivan says the easiest thing to do for people unfamiliar with diabetes is simply talk to a student with diabetes about what it’s like.

“The one thing I would like people to know is I want them to ask,” Sullivan said. “I want them to ask me questions, ask why I do certain things, ask why I can’t do certain things. I think a lot of my friends who I’ve been talking to also agree that just by people asking it gives us a chance to talk with them and connect with other people in a way we might not been able to before.”

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 professors awarded grant to launch education app

TAMPA, Fl.- Two University of South Florida professors in the college of education are working together as husband and wife to develop a new app that will allow young children in grades K-5 to access primary resources, or firsthand accounts of events and experiences throughout history.

Michael Berson, professor of social science education and advisor for Muzzy Lane Software, and his wife, Ilene Berson, professor of early childhood in the department of childhood education and literacy studies, are working with Muzzy Lane Software and a team of people throughout the country on the “KidCitizen” project. In September, “KidCitizen” was one of three educational app development grants given by the Library of Congress. The grant is approximately $320,000.

This project isn’t the first time that the Bersons have teamed up.

“We have been working for a very long time, since we were undergraduate students in college” said Michael Berson.

He said that they have a good working relationship, citing her “thoughtful approach to the exploration of curriculum” and her “unique perspectives on the project.” While he is excited to work with his wife, he is just as excited to work with the rest of the team. All were handpicked to be part of the project.

“It is truly a national treasure and to be working with them to create next generations of learning tools, it is a very big honor for us here at the college of education,” Berson said.

The team will be identifying developmentally appropriate primary resources for young children through photos, journal entries, news articles and other resources the Library of Congress has to offer. The focus of the project is on teaching young children about Congress and civics.

“We know, historically speaking, from research in our field that children don’t learn when they simply peruse a text,” Berson said. “They have to engage in content and look and explore and get dirty and dig deep when they’re dealing with history, because for a lot of kids they look at history and they say well that happened a long time ago, that has nothing to do with me.”

Daryl Saunders, social studies supervisor and generalist for area IV schools in Hillsborough County, specializes in implementation of standards, curriculum and development. She will be making sure that the final product can fit in with the curriculum, in the Florida state standards.

“We want more variety of resources and we want to find ways to get more complex resources in the hands of kids in a meaningful way,” Saunders said.

Most children have a phone or some type of device. Rather than shunning the use of the device completely, a ramification of education is occurring.

“What we hope to do is connect children through images to learn about congress to learn about civics, you know, what can they do in their community, by looking at the past and connecting it to their present day lives,” Berson said.

Berson hopes that the app is something that is easily accessible for students and teachers. While it will be free, that doesn’t always mean that people will use or be aware of it. The team will be working no only on design and content but also on how they can make accessibility a reality.

“Kids change, society changes and we have to change,” Saunders said.

Salsaween, the best of two worlds

 

Greg McBride had never been to an event quite like the Latin American Student Association’s Salsaween Halloween celebration on Wednesday evening.

McBride, a junior studying international business at USF Sarasota-Manatee, was visiting his friends at USF Tampa, and they decided to go to the event hosted in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom. He said he heard about the event from one of his friends and decided it would be a cool event to go to.

“I’m not in the club and neither are any of my friends,” McBride said. “But all of us are either from Peru or Venezuela so we know Spanish culture.”

Salsa music coming from the event in the ballroom could be heard upon entering the MSC. The lights were dim and there were Halloween decorations all around the room including a giant blow-up arch adorned with skulls in the entryway. There were balloons, tables with decorations and even food like chips and salsa and Cuban sandwiches. One of McBride’s favorite activities at the event was the photo booth.

“I went in with all my friends a bunch of times. There were a lot of props to choose from and I really liked the big crazy glasses and the hats,” McBride said. “I’ll go to any event that has a photo booth and free food.”

At one point during the evening there was a break from salsa music, and a student band came up and played a few popular songs. The dancing didn’t stop though. The crowd of about 150 people loved the music and seemed to enjoy it just as much as the Spanish music.

There was also a costume contest. Students were wearing everything from super hero costumes, to elegant dresses, to traditional salsa dancing outfits. Some students, like McBride and his friends, weren’t wearing costumes at all.

“I don’t really dress up,” he said. “I’m going to another Halloween event on Friday and I’m not wearing a costume for that either.”

Even though Salsaween was first and foremost a Halloween event, students and club members were able to come together and enjoy an evening of music, dancing, food and friends. It is one of the club’s most anticipated events each year.

“I’ve had a lot of fun here so far and I would want to go to another event hosted by the club,” McBride said. “And I loved being able to come with my friends and meet other people who appreciate Spanish culture.”

 

App rewards students for paying attention

By Hayley Phillips

 

TAMPA—

 

A recent app, Pocket Points, rewards students for paying attention in class.

Launched in 2012 by creator Mitch Gardner, Pocket Points is now sweeping college campuses. When activated, the app counts the minutes a student does not utilize any other features on their phone. The points accumulated can then be used for discounts at local businesses.

“You can lock your phone, and it’ll start counting points. So as you start counting points, the more discounts you earn,” Jordan Loren, the University of South Florida Pocket Points ambassador, said.

Here’s the catch. You must be in class to earn points.

“The geo-fence . . . goes off wifi, so it’s set up from all of the hospital buildings, including all the academic buildings, MSC, and ROTC and the Rec Center as well,” Loren said. In other words, the only way to reap the benefits of the app is to pay attention in the classroom. USF student Tyler Moss says he does not mind putting his phone away for the greater good.

“I think the app is great . . . It really incentifies students to stay in class and uh, focus and you know, earn little rewards for doing so,” Moss said.

Loren says her favorite reward is the buy one get one free salad at So Fresh.

“I mean buy one get ones are great anywhere, and I love So Fresh,” Loren said.

Other local businesses who participate in the Pocket Points reward program include: Smoothie King, Are Pita, Graffiti Junktion, Cazador Grill, Total Nutrition, Babylon Hookah Lounge, Vitamin Discount Center and Planet Beach. Students also have the option to redeem points via online shopping at stores such as The Cabana Shop, COAST Apparel, ForELyse.com and many others.

Anyone can download the app for free today at the App Store for iPhones and Google Play for Android users.

 

 

Local band takes Tampa by storm

A local band, The Applebutter Express, is drawing in crowds from all over the bay area. Kyle and Shannon Biss started the band as a vocal duo back in 2004 when they met in high school before getting married in 2011. Since then, they added Joe Trivette as a fiddle player and Matt Desear as the bassist to complete the band.

“I always knew that Shannon could sing because she was in chorus, but she wanted nothing to do with it at first,” Kyle said. “She didn’t want to sing in front of a bunch of people. Once I finally got her up there the first time, she was fine and I realized we had this chemistry on stage together.”

The Applebutter Express has a unique sound given to their use of stringed-instruments like the ukulele played by Kyle. Their folk-like, bluegrass style is more uplifting than most music played today. What first started as a hobby for the band, has led to performances all throughout Florida and even to other states for festivals such as Bonnaroo.

“We would start to go to local festivals and campsites, walk around and perform for people around there by singing and playing around,” Shannon said. “We didn’t think of doing anything professional yet. We decided one night after so many positive responses from people that maybe we can do something with this. That was enough encouragement to go to open mics and tryout for local gigs and now it’s a whole thing.”

The band members do not focus on a certain niche when it comes to their audience and their eclectic music has drawn in a variety of listeners from children to seniors. 

“What’s really funny to me is that kids just take to us,” Shannon said. “I guess that we are good dancing music for kids. Really we get crowds of all ages because we do a lot of 60s and 70s covers and that kind of thing. That’s the music that we are really into, Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, so we get a lot of older fans from that.  But we get a little bit of everybody.  A lot of people you wouldn’t expect.”

The Applebutter Express already released two CDs and plans to have more. Their recently signed publishing deal and featured song “Hey, my brotha”  in Ron Howard’s film “The Good Lie” foreshadows they have nothing but a successful future to look forward to for years to come.

 

 

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Local brewery introduces 2 new beers

(Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)
The Tampa Bay Brewing Company brews their own beer (Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)

In 1992, the Doble family started a home brewing shop by the name of Brew Shack. Due to its successes, John Doble II, his wife Vicky, and two of their sons, David and John III, decided to open The Tampa Bay Brewing Company in 1995. Since it was created, the company has been making beer to satisfy just about every taste around the bay area.

(Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)
A segment of the brewing equipment (Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)

The company is not only a brewery, it is also a full service restaurant and bar that is located in Centro Ybor. Its two most popular beers are Reef Donkey APA and Old Elephant Foot IPA, which happen to be the only two beers that the brewery cans and distributes. Both beers can be found in local liquor stores and some gas stations around town. David, the Co-Founder and Head Brewer, said exactly how the Old Elephant Foot IPA got its name:

(Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)
Customers enjoying their drinks at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company (Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)

“One of my older brothers, Mark, actually had an old elephant foot garbage can and we needed a name for India Pale Ale. We are sitting around having a few beers, and his old elephant foot actually came up in the talk and we… you know… that’s perfect… Old Elephant Foot IPA.”

(Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)
Members of The Mug Club can have their mugs hanging from the bar’s ceiling (Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)

As a family owned business, the Dobles try to make every customer feel like family. They created “The Mug Club” in 1997, which allows customers to register for a small fee. Joining “The Mug Club” gets you special discounts, a T-shirt, and your own mug that you can decorate and leave at the pub – in your assigned hanging spot – to use every time you visit. The entire pub is decorated with these mugs, wheat and beer bottles.

(Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)
The Tampa Bay Brewing Company has plenty of space for customers to relax in (Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)

The Tampa Bay Brewery has been featured on the Food Network multiple times and has won various awards for its beer-infused meals. Karen and Scott Frohlich were having lunch with their family and said:

(Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)
Other than beer, the bar serves delicious food (Photo credit: Jennifer Mejia)

“On the Food Network we saw the food that they were preparing and it just looked delicious. So we decided to come over.”

The Tampa Bay Brewing Company is a friendly and family oriented establishment that is suitable for even the youngest of them all, and even man’s best friend. The outside bar allows owners to bring their pets and hang out while enjoying a drink or two.

 

The double life of Emily Kenyon

University of South Florida student Emily Kenyon is changing the face of engineering. She earns her living as a model while working toward a degree in mechanical engineering.

Kenyon, 22, began modeling when she was 15 years old. Her job has taken her around the globe to centers for high fashion such as Milan, Italy.

“It was amazing, the culture was awesome,” she said.

While her summers are spent abroad, she spends the school year in Tampa.

“I just keep in mind that I’m going to be an engineer for a lot longer than I’m going to be a model,” Kenyon said.

Friends like Bret Callahan even take notice of her work ethic.

“She works a lot…[she’s] up earlier than me, but also up later than me working or studying,” he said.

Like modeling, Kenyon’s love for engineering has been present since a young age. Her father, Dean Kenyon, is the president of KPI Engineering Inc. and also earned a degree in mechanical engineering at USF.

Kenyon works for her father and hopes to take over the company one day.

“I do a little bit of Computer Aided Design drawing work for him,” she said. “I also can answer phone calls, make copies and run bids.”

Whether she is posing for the camera or studying textbooks, Kenyon says that she enjoys the busy life. She recalls a memory when her worlds collided.

“Two years ago, I was doing a runway here in Tampa and I had out my Calculus 2 notes and I was studying and someone said ‘…I think you’re the first person I’ve ever seen to be doing their engineering homework backstage at a fashion show’,” she said.

Moffitt Cancer Center Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk4F3A-jKH0&feature=youtu.be

Back in 1981, Florida Legislature passed a bill that allowed the creation of Moffitt Cancer Center. Later, in Oct. 27, 1986, it opened for the first time at the University of South Florida, making it the first cancer center in the state.

Moffitt Cancer Center was named after cancer survivor H. Lee Moffitt.

“He didn’t even want it to be named after him,” said Moffitt Media Relations Coordinator Steve Blanchard, “so, they had to trick him to get him out of the building when they named it after him and he came back, and it was a surprise to him.”

Over the years, Moffitt Cancer Center had broken new grounds in terms of architecture, funding and research.

“Moffitt is on the leading edge and the cutting edge of research for cancer, and they always are ten steps ahead of research,” stated Clinical Science Lab Coordinator Portia Weiss, “I think by the growth that the hospital is doing and the research and the teams we have in place here makes it a fantastic place to work. So, I’m very happy to be a part of this team.”

“This upcoming year is a very big year for Moffitt Cancer Center and I’m excited to see what we do next year, but it is very important to remember that until there is a cure for cancer then Moffitt is going to be right there in the middle of the fight,” said Blanchard.

Taste of Honey event ensures sweet time for all

The sixth annual Taste of Honey was held at the USF’s botanical gardens today. Over a hundred different varieties of honeys were available to taste test. Kim Hutton, USF’s botanical gardens program coordinator, thinks it’s really nice that students and staff bring home honey from their travels.

“We have some students that went to Africa and different spots and they remember us and come back.” explained Hutton.

Along with the cost of admission, gift baskets were raffled to raise money. The event raises money for the botanical gardens’ beekeeping club. There is no specific goal, but costs of maintaining the program can be expensive.

The club meets once a month starting in November for a year. Lessons include basic beekeeping instruction and hands on experience with honey bees. The students become certified beekeepers when they graduate from the program. Hutton says the beekeeping program is their way of serving the community. Beekeepers will remove bees from your home free of charge.

According to Hutton, Hillsborough County has the most certified beekeepers in the state of Florida. Brent Weisman, Florida master beekeeper, is the instructor of the beekeeping program. The ideal goal for him is to have a barn and instructional pavilion where school groups can learn about bees. Weisman hopes the general public could learn and understand more about bees.

“They are beneficial for human life, they have evolved over millions of years, they are not dangerous, and they are not aggressive.” he says.

 

 

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.”

 

Local businesses provides taste of Tampa to soldiers

TAMPA – When people think of Ybor City, they remember a few things; the bars, the food and the quality cigars. Individually owned cigar shops line the streets of 7th Avenue and are known for their  assortment of hand-rolled  cigars.

In 2010, the Ybor City community launched a non-profit group called Cigars for Soldiers to show U.S. Troops  how much they appreciate their service. They reach out to soldiers deployed overseas by shipping them  cigars throughout the year.

“Oh all the companies donate but basically it’s not only the companies, it’s the community, the people. When we have our festivals, the people come by and we holler hey come on donate a cigar for soldiers and as you know they come in they donate,” said Robert Alorda, ambassador for Ybor City. “After they leave, we put them in packs, 3 in pack. We put a little literature of Ybor City, letting them know where they came from. Then I take them to a distribution center.”

Along with the cigar shop owners, Alorda works throughout the year at festivals and other events, encouraging companies and residents to take part in donating.

“We use Dominican Nicaragua blend, we have awe have a deal buy 5 cigars and they can get 1 free for the soldiers,” said Ernesto, a cigar roller from Long Ash Cigars. “A lot of people will go that way to donate to the soldiers and for us it’s a pretty good deal and it works.”

Since its establishment,  Cigars for Soldiers has shipped thousands of  hand-rolled cigars to U.S. troops and the program continues to grow and donate.

“We have asked in the little envelopes, please let us know how the cigars were and they sent us back emails, letters, showing us and pictures of them enjoying our cigars and how they appreciate what we have done for them.” said Alorda.

This November, Cigars for Soldiers hopes to collect cigars just in time for the holidays.

 

New drug bags fight prescription abuse

 

Tampa Fla. – The Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance (HCADA) is combating prescription drug misuse in a  unique way.  HCADA is implementing a drug disposal program within Hillsborough County.

HCADA received ten thousand bags this past month and hopes to distribute these to pharmacies and clinics in the county. This is all part of a new national pilot program.

Hillsborough is one of three counties in the entire country partaking in this program.

The purpose of these bags is so you have a proper way to dispose of prescription medicines. HCADA says this is better than throwing them away or flushing them down the toilet, which has environmental effects.

“Different medications and antibiotics are actually showing in fish in the waters, where we obtain some of our food supply.” Ronnie Crescentini from HCADA says.

These bags add another way to dispose of prescription medicine. There are usually two drug take back days in the county where the coalition and members of the community can properly get rid of their unwanted medicine.

Dr. Thomas Towers, an assistant professor with USF says, “One of the benefits too is that there is a privacy to it.”

The bags can hold up to 90 pills and any type of medication can be put in them. The bags are easy to use with clear easy-to-follow instructions on the back. All you need is water. They can be thrown away and they will not harm the environment because they are biodegradable.

The long term goal for the program is that they are used by the public and funding will be awarded to keep the program going on a wider, more national scale.

The bags are free of charge and can be picked up at HCADA. If you cannot make it, HCADA will deliver one to you.

Kids horse around to support nonprofit

Armando Gort had one dream when he was a boy: to have his own farm. Today, that dream is a reality.

There are many animals on Gort’s farm, even though his original thought was that he would only have a few horses. He began riding horses as a young child.

“I started when I was five or six years old. My dad used to have animals, so he got me involved with animals,” he said.

He is now the founder of a nonprofit called HorsePower for Kids. Children and adults come to learn and interact with the animals.

All ages are welcome. There is a petting zoo for younger kids, and older kids can ride the horses.

It takes many volunteers to run the nonprofit. Saskia Ravelli, farm manager, says volunteers provide 95 percent of the help.

“On a regular basis during the week, we probably have about 80, but with special events, it goes up to about 300,” Ravelli said.

HorsePower for Kids is hosting a fall fundraiser with hay rides, live music, pony rides, games and activities. The event runs Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Oct. 3 through Nov. 1. Admission is $10 per person.

Money raised pays for the care of animals. Ravelli said it costs $25,000 to operate the farm.

 

Police, apartment management make properties safer

The Tampa Police Department is teaming up with Meridian Pointe Apartments to make the city safer.

The City of Tampa Police Department presented Meridian Pointe’s property manager, Bob Kelsey, with the first ever “crime free” sign. The community came out to show their support.

Kelsey has been in charge of making the apartment complex safer for residents, which consisted of the installation of new doors, locks, lighting fixtures and securer windows.

“I wanted the residents to know that Richman Properties of Meridian Pointe really cares about each and every one of them and about their quality of life,” Kelsey said. “You can’t put a price on someone’s life.”

The result of the Tampa Police Department teaming up with Meridian Pointe has made residents and the police officers on duty feel protected and safe.

“I love working with the community,” Officer Kay Brown said. “My whole entire career that I have been here at the police department has always been community. That is my passion. To see smiling faces of people living in peace and harmony, without any interruptions from people who want to cause problems on the property, just brightens my day.”

“I know how instrumental the relationship between the police department and properties like Richman is and how important it is,” Kelsey said. “I just look forward to the future. I think it’s going to be a bright one for Meridian Pointe.”

‘Photo gallery’ Ybor’s Seventh Ave. goes vintage

Ybor City streets were lined with classic cars and vintage motorcycles on Sunday as a charity event to benefit My Warrior’s Place, a nonprofit organization that serves the brave men and women of the U.S. armed forces. Only in its first year, this event met with great reception. The streets of Seventh Ave. were lined with cars, motorcycles and delighted spectators. Owners brought their trailer queens, the name given to show cars, from all over the state. There was something to suit everyone’s taste.

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