Radio show helps fight hunger

99.5 WQYK partnered up with Feeding Tampa Bay for the fourth year in a row to collect food for those in need in Zephyrhills on Friday.

The country music station is in the middle of their event known as Food Fund November. Every Friday of the month, the morning show broadcasts live from a city in the Tampa Bay area. Their tent is set up right next to Feeding Tampa Bay’s tent, where you can drop off food for donation.

“We started Food Fund Friday’s as a way to both help families and to get out to the community to say thanks for everything that you do,” Veronica Alfaro, co-host of the morning show said.

Roughly 100 people showed up to donate food. Among those was state Rep. Danny Burgess, who donated food and participated in the radio show.

“The community always turns out for these type of events,” Burgess said. “We’re always looking for ways to help our neighbors and to help others.”

Unfortunately, those in need are suffering throughout the year, not just during the fall. For this reason, Feeding Tampa Bay wants people to know that their services are available year-round.

“Fall is when people tend to focus on people being hungry,” Maxine Rice, a Feeding Tampa Bay employee said. “But really we need to make sure people are aware throughout the year.”

Feeding Tampa Bay is part of the national Feeding America network. Over the last three years, the nonprofit organization has nearly doubled the amount of food that is provided to the public. They went from 20 million meals to 37 million meals a year.

If you want to reach out and help your community, you can go online to Feeding Tampa Bay’s website at feedingtampabay.org to learn more.

Bulls Get Fit For A Good Cause

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and students at the University of South Florida are making sure they are actively staying involved.

The USF Campus Recreation center hosts an event called Bulls Fitsgiving. It allows students to team up and compete in obstacle courses not only for fun but also to give back to others in need.

Brandon Miller, a fitness coordinator at USF, wants students to realize how important events like this are to the community.

“We want to make sure that they know this is more than just about them,” said Miller. “We want to make sure they are making an impact globally, making a really holistic student out of what they are doing here.”

As an incentive to give back, students are asked to bring canned food, clothing or hygiene items that will be donated to local charity. If they do so then five seconds will be taken off their team’s total run time.

Dominique Richardson is a fitness coordinator at USF and she is the one who has planned and coordinated the event for the last three years.

“I think people are definitely excited,” said Richardson “It’s a good way to take a break from finals that are coming up. It’s a good time to get fit and have fun.”

The event was completely sold out and fourteen teams participated in Bulls Fitsgiving.

Local Shoe Drive Helps Refugees in Need

National Welcoming Week is an event that encourages members of the community to promote unity by celebrating contributions from immigrants and refugees from all over the world with dance and performances. The University of South Florida hosted the event this year.

This year’s theme was centered on shoes for refugees with the theme being, “Small shoes, Big Journey.” Rachel Ackey, a 10-year-old volunteer, came up with the idea of a shoe drive to donate shoes to refugee children.

“I wanted to do something for them ’cause they have to run away from their homes ’cause of a war,” said Ackey.  “They probably just have the pair of shoes on their feet. So I wanna give them different shoes so they could feel welcomed and they could have new shoes for the school year.”

Volunteers hope to relay the message of unity to encourage the community to be welcoming to those transitioning from places where war, persecution or natural disasters are abundant.

In an effort to celebrate refugees and their backgrounds, event organizers hosted a fashion show where refugees got to participate in showcasing garments from around the world.

Over 100 pairs of shoes for kids were collected during the Week of Welcome, thanks to contributions and efforts from the community.

Walking for a Cause

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life may be about raising money for cancer research, but it also honors those who have been affected by the disease.

Relay for Life events around the nation give survivors a chance to celebrate their good health with event activities such as the Survivor Lap. This lap opens every Relay for Life event around the country.

“Whenever you take a lap around for the Survivor Lap, everyone is just cheering you on and there’s all this positive energy just, like, hope for survival,” said caregiver Genevieve Rodriguez. “It’s just a great atmosphere.”

Cancer survivors receive a special T-shirt and sash to wear during the duration of the event so that everyone knows they have overcome the disease.

Their caregivers also receive a commemorative sash to wear.

“Now as a survivor of an insidious breast cancer, which could come back at any time, to be considered a survivor is a wonderful miracle,” said survivor Eileen Golisz.

Luminary bags are another way that Relay for Life participants can honor family and friends that are continuing to fight or have died of cancer.

Each bag is decorated and then lined up along the track. They are lit with candles during the Luminaria Ceremony that takes place at night along with a silent lap, where participants walk the track in silence to memorialize loved ones who have died of cancer.

To learn more about Relay for Life and its contributions to the American Cancer Society, visit www.relayforlife.org.

How a nationwide nonprofit organization is helping Tampa

Proclaiming that they are the “first name in second chances,” Eckerd is a nationwide nonprofit organization that focuses on providing solutions that help struggling families and young adults thrive.

At the Eckerd Achievement Academy office in downtown Tampa, teachers Stephen Zambito and Tamara Johnson are just some of the staff that has been hired to teach some at-risk teens in the Tampa Bay community. Through this program their goal is to obtain their high school or GED diploma when traditional schooling options are no longer an option.

Johnson and Zambito create a safe place for these students who often come from broken homes and were children of the foster care system. Many of the students love it at Eckerd and consider it a family type atmosphere.

Every job comes with its ups and downs. Johnson said the hardest part of this particular job is getting attached to the students. “These kids are like my own and it’s really hard when one day they are here and the next day they are gone.” She also said that when they lack motivation it is hard to steer them in the right direction.

Zambito expressed the same sentiment saying, “Over the ten years I have done this I have definitely learned patience.”

Eckerd not only provides high school and GED diploma services, but also juvenile justice, child welfare, and behavioral health services for those in need. For more information about Eckerd please visit Eckerd.org or call 800-554-HELP.

 

 

 

 

Community Roots Collective Birthday Party

 

Event organizers of the Community Roots Collective First Birthday Celebration are confirming vendors and adding the last touches to their event tomorrow afternoon at the center’s location.

Community Roots Collective is a business that offers a variety of services to help educate and guide soon to be mothers and their families before, during and after pregnancy. A group of locally owned business’ cater to families by provide classes, events, support groups, home birthing, massage therapy and more. These include Barefoot Birth, Barefoot Herbals, Sweet Plum Photography, Rachel Diaz, Magical Moments Breastfeeding, Milk and Cookies, Innate Chiropractic & Wellness and Live the Rhythm.

With a staff of twelve running the business, everyone contributes ideas to make sure the event is successful.

“We have been working really hard to get this to come together,”event organizer Gaetane Joseph said. “Everyone plans their own part and then it comes together as one.  I’ll be there to talk to people about the role of a Doula.”

To commemorate this exciting time, they are inviting the community to come out and enjoy the festivities.

“We will have a bounce house, a couple food trucks and we’ll take a group photo on our porch at 2 p.m.,” Charlie Rae Young said.

Community Roots Collective want people to come out and enjoy themselves, but also encourages them to learn from them while they are there.

“One of the main goals of this event is to bring naturally-minded families in the area together with professionals in the industry,”Young said.

“We just want to welcome everyone and tell them to pop in and see what we are about if they aren’t familiar with us and what offer,”event organizer Wesley Bozeman said.

For more information about Community Roots Collective, visit http://barefootbirth.com/

 

 

USF Fraternity Hits the Field for Charity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjpF0aLaODY

A USF fraternity is in the news, and it’s for all of the right reasons.

USF’s Sigma Nu chapter hosted their 6th annual Sigma Nu White Rose Bowl Flag Football Tournament. The event brings allows USF sororities to compete and help raise money for St. Jude Children Hospital.

“As a community for Greek life we are really big on supporting one another and the charities we support,” said Haley Von Harten, captain of the Zeta Tau Alpha flag football team.

Throughout the event Sigma Nu hosted multiple other fundraisers to further their cause. Over the last two years, the guys have donated over $30,000 to St. Jude from the White Rose Bowl.

“This event is a big part of Sigma Nu’s National Helping Hand Initiative,” Sigma Nu President Dustin Winship said, “It aims at raising funds and awareness of St. Jude and all the awesome research that they do.”

Other than their own event, Sigma Nu will also compete in other philanthropy events in the Greek life community. They will continue to support St. Jude, as well as other charities like the Ronald McDonald house, through these events.

“ I’m really grateful to be able to be here and help raise money for St. Jude,” Von Harten said.

Rays Fan Fest 2016

Fans were given a chance to mingle with both players, coaches, and alumni. Autographs by some of the team favorites raised over $50,000 for charity. Carnival-style games and batting cages were enjoyed by fans of all ages.

After two decades of playing at Tropicana Field in St. Pete, word of the team seeking out a new stadium spread fast. With an official search for a site underway, fans were asked what they thought about the potential move.

Trevor Norman of Largo said, “I don’t think it’s really the whole far away factor…you hop on the interstate and you’re there. I think the biggest thing is probably parking. Kind of a shady area but, you know, I guess, I think if they could improve that they could definitely get more people to come.”

Key considerations of the new stadium include location, authenticity, and size. The Rays’ have suggested a site with at least 20 acres.

Season ticket holder Travis McManan isn’t going to let the relocation affect his loyalty to the Rays. “I’m a pretty hardcore baseball fan. If it’s Tampa, if it’s in St. Pete, if it’s in Orlando, as long as it’s a reasonable drive, I’m going to be right there,” McMahan said.

This year’s Fan Fest set a record attendance of over 17,000 people.

The first game of the season is scheduled for April 3rd. The Rays’ will take on the Toronto Blue Jays with a home field advantage.

Sigma Pi makes a ‘splash’ at Delta Gamma Event

Sigma Pi participated once again in Delta Gamma’s annual philanthropic Anchor Splash on Sunday, October 26, 2015. Sigma Pi did not place this year, but they seem to be optimistic toward future performances. Sigma Pi brother, Robert Steeg, said, “As long as we get more brothers to participate next year and we keep up the hard work, I believe we will improve and maybe even place.”

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.

Walk to benefit those with Alzheimer’s Disease

Someone’s parent, child or loved one can have Alzheimer’s disease, and while this disease is prevalent in seniors, it can affect anyone of any age.

Alzheimer’s robs an individual of their memory and other cognition functions and to date, there is no cure.

Participates in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s walk to raise funds for awareness of this disease and for caregivers.

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.

 

 

 

Local Bakery With Historical Roots Serves Community

The La Segunda Central bakery’s production of fine baked goods has been a staple in Tampa’s Ybor City for over 100 years.

“My great grandfather Juan started the business in 1915, he came from Spain,” fourth-generation owner Copeland Moore, said.  “He fought in the Spanish-American war in Cuba, learned how to make Cuban bread.”

 

He came here in the early 20th century with cigar workers who were flourishing in Ybor City. “He brought the recipe and made the bread for the Cuban workers and the Cuban sandwiches and passed it on to his two sons, who are my grandfather and his brother,” Moore said.

Figure 1 Copeland Moore’s grandfather was the second generation to run the bakery

The rest is history.

La Segunda produces a variety of baked goods, but is most known for its world famous Cuban bread.

Figure 2 La Segunda Bakery is known for its renowned Cuban bread

“We distribute locally and nationally, but locally here most likely if you’ve had a Cuban sandwich it’s on our bread,” Moore said.

The Bakery also has a long-standing tradition of hiring employees that have family ties to the bakery. “I just do whatever they ask me to,” cashier Cathy Rosemurgy said. Moore is Rosemurgy’s son-in-law and technically, Rosemurgy is retired.

“I just to love come and help out because of all of the wonderful people here,” she said.

Figure 3 La Segunda is seen as a crucial part of Ybor City’s history

In addition to employing family and close acquaintances, the bakery also supplies many local restaurants with their Cuban bread. One example is the Columbia restaurant also located in Ybor City. “Providing the local community here in Ybor City with high quality products is important to us,” Moore said.

Moore currently runs the bakery with the aid of his father. When asked what his favorite aspect of the restaurant was, he pointed to new challenges and family.

“Helping with the customers, helping our employees work on their processes, that’s the most enjoyable, that’s what helps me get up and come to work every day and that’s what I like the most about it,” Moore said.

 

Steinbrenner Field hosts Tampa, New York fans

On the corner of Dale Mabry Highway and Martin Luther King Boulevard, Tampa residents can enjoy America’s favorite pastime at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Opened in 1996, Steinbrenner Field is home to the minor league Tampa Yankees and the New York Yankees spring training season. Its original name was Legends Field and was renamed George M. Steinbrenner Field almost a decade later to honor former Yankees owner, George Michael Steinbrenner.

“Mr. Steinbrenner, I know, was a very big part of the Tampa Bay community,” said Matthew Gess, the assistant general manager to the Tampa Yankees. “A lot of things here are built and maybe were passed by him.”

Everywhere you go on the facilities bears a little bit of the city that never sleeps. At the front entrance, visitors can see the numbers of retired jerseys from some of the New York Yankees, shop for some memorabilia at the Legends Room store and even pay their respects to the 9/11 Memorial.

“Being that we’re related to the New York Yankees, we do get our share of it because across the bay is the Rays,” said Gess. “A lot of snowbirds come down from New York, so they’re in the area and that plays a huge part into it. I know they love their Yankees down here. They get to see them a little earlier here than their regular season.”

Those who are not New York Yankee’s fans, but are still loyal to Tampa’s baseball teams, can check out the Tampa Yankees at Steinbrenner Field. Tampa’s minor league team plays at the facilities throughout the summer, attracting fans from all over the city.

“I know they like our affordability, our prices and the fact that we’re an open-air stadium and we’re outside,” said Jessica Lack, the digital/social media and community relations coordinator. “It’s just such a fun atmosphere here with all those kids cheering and everything.”

Kids are some of the Tampa Yankee’s biggest fans. The field hosts Kids Day Wednesdays, where local Hillsborough schools are invited to the stadium and students receive a free ticket and meal from the concession stands.

“The kids are gold,” said Lee Buese, a camera operator for the Tampa Yankees. “It really epitomizes the good times that the rest of the people have.”

Steinbrenner Field also hosts a variety of charity events throughout the year to give back to the Tampa bay community. Some of these events include Autism Awareness, Striking Out Cancer, Everyday Heroes and the Children’s Home of Tampa Bay.

“We do a lot of theme nights that give back to the charities to attract people to come,” Lack said. “Coming up next week we’re doing our Fight for Kids Night for a child who has stage four cancer.”

Tickets are on sale for Tampa Yankee’s games. For more about Steinbrenner Field, the Tampa Yankees and the New York Yankees spring training, visit steinbrennerfield.com.

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Student merges motivational message with apparel business

“Progressively Getting Better.”

The term coined by University of South Florida student, Imani Lee, is a social movement that encourages positivity and productivity.

“When I came to USF I decided I wanted to take the term to the next level,” Lee said. “I wanted to start my own company to actually use this message and incorporate it with a medium that everyone could use.

Lee believed apparel would be the perfect way to promote his motivational message. He specifically designed athletic apparel to allow athletes to define themselves, rather than being defined by the brand they’re wearing.

“It’s something unique in terms of not only providing an apparel line for athletes,” Shaquille Kent, a USF student said. “It’s a constant motivation. Whether its sports, whether its school, it’s always something that you’re progressively getting better at.”

Lee said he has plans to partner with businesses such as the YMCA and Alpha House of Tampa in order to host campaigns to spread awareness of the movement.

“We’re going to have basketball tournaments and we’re going to be doing food drives,” Lee said. “A portion of those proceeds that we collect will go to whichever company we’re partnered with.”

Lee said he also has goals of creating motivational workshops, a production crew and a record label.

“When I say progressively getting better I’m talking about now and in the future,” he said. “Me and you — all of us as a whole — we are connected. We do have a global conscious and we should make that consciousness more productive. This is the future.”