Shop local this holiday season

Harvest season is right around the corner and the MiraBay Market encourages the community to shop local this Thanksgiving. Vendors and small businesses around the area are encouraged to set up their tents and showcase their products for local shoppers.

“I’m kind of new, I moved here in the summer so seeing a lot of these local vendors kind of helps me get to know them a little better and see what’s actually out in my community,” Suzie Moore said, a local shopper.

Small businesses got a chance to showcase their products. Big Crush Slush Company was amongst these, offering premium frozen slush beverages. Owner Tim Sanders encourages local markets and businesses because it brings attention to the community.

“Right now in this time in age we need to help the small business owners,” Tim Sanders said, “This helps drive that attention into the small business owners as well as the local communities.”

The MiraBay Market features all types of food items, including produce, sweets, and specialty drinks. The market also features other items like clothing, jewelry and accessories.

It was an event fit for all age groups, with one of the youngest vendors being Zoraya Gonzales.

“I just started working with my titi,” said Zoraya Gonzales.

The MiraBay Market takes place outside of the MiraBay Club in Apollo Beach on the third Sunday of every month. The next one is Dec.18th.

 

The Environment: Where Some See Progress, Others Are Disillusioned

Laurie Walker bustles about the southwestern corner of the USF campus, where lies a 16-acre space of greenery frequented by human visitors, bees, butterflies and two resident cats.

It was 1969 when the university established its Botanical Gardens, which serves as a breath of fresh air for the community as well as a home and research center for plants and animals.  Walker has been the director of the Botanical Gardens for 15 years.

Despite the soothing quietness of the gardens, worries about environmental degradation and health bubble underneath.  Having to protect plants from damaging weather is always a challenge, suggests Walker.  But newer challenges keep rising to the surface.

On site is an apiary used in the gardens’ yearlong beekeeping course.  The effects on bees were deeply felt this year.

“We were not able to collect honey this year,” said Walker. “There was just not enough honey to take. And we don’t do it for commercial purposes. We just do it as an educational component of the course.  But our honeybees have not been stockpiling honey.”

Step outside of the gardens and back into the day-to-day of Tampa Bay, and you’ll find that concern about the environment comes second.

“Everyone cares about the economy, which I can understand because people are concerned about ‘I need to feed my family, I need to feed myself,’” said Samantha Szatyari, a junior environmental science and policy major.

Dr. Susan MacManus, a distinguished professor of political science at USF, confirmed this sentiment.  MacManus notes that just because jobs and economy are at the top of the list does not mean Floridians don’t see its importance.  Many move to Florida because of its environment, so its health is already near the forefront of their minds.

MacManus directs the USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey, which concluded last month that the environment was the second most pressing issue for Floridians.

“The environment will absolutely intensify as an issue because of its high priority for younger people,” said MacManus.

Walker holds on to this as hope.

“Easier said than done, but I think young people now, college students, get this, and with social networks, that information can get out to others,” said Walker.

But some college students are not so sure. At the very least, they don’t think their peers care enough.

“Back home, one of the major problems that we have is people throwing garbage,” said Awa Ndiaye, a sophomore engineering student. “You walk down the streets and you see a bunch of plastic bags or you see a bunch of trash that shouldn’t be there and it’s something that directly impacts your life.”

Home for Ndiaye is Senegal, where she says the difference in approach to the environment is an awareness issue—lack of knowledge generates inaction.  But in the U.S., she says, it’s apathy.

“Here, a lot of the people I’ve been around—they’re kind of conscious of climate change and environmental issues, but they don’t care because at the end of the day it doesn’t affect them,” said Ndiaye. “If they waste water or if they’re wasting food, it doesn’t matter to them because at the end of the day, they still get food.”

Inaction is also exacerbated by the feeling that it’s too big of a problem for a single person to tackle, both Ndiaye and Szatyari say.

But it’s also a matter of wanting instant gratification.

“To take care of the environment is to make an investment in the future,” said Szatyari.  “A lot of people don’t want to make that investment.  People want to see results now.”

Szatyari, who is also the director of networking for the Student Environmental Association at USF, felt her view was fairly pessimistic, but nonetheless true.  Still, she continues to be active.

“There’s that disillusionment, but then there’s that ‘well what if I can be that voice of change?’” said Szatyari.

To Walker, young people can be that voice.

“Few people understand that one person can make a difference,” said Walker. “We have to be vocal, we have to get the word out. We have to educate people.”

Yoga On Tap: A Great Fit

 

It is not often that we associate beer with yoga, but 3 Daughters Brewing has teamed up with The Body Electric Yoga Company to prove otherwise.

Twice a month, the brewery welcomes the community in St. Petersburg to engage with other yogis. Here you will find that yoga, beer and live acoustic music flock like birds of a feather. Jonathan Truong, the marketing coordinator at the brewery said bringing communities closer together is what matters most.

“We try to keep it really relaxed here, and family-friendly is a big deal,” Truong said. “If you look around you will not find any TVs. We want it to be about enjoying each other’s company.”

About 50 people participated in the event, and it would seem that these companies are achieving a successful and relaxing environment.

The idea of integrating beer and yoga started as a method of relieving anxiety, and bring balance to people’s lives inside and out. The yoga facilitators want to welcome people of all ages and fitness levels because they believe that yoga can be both fun, and beneficial to one’s health.

“In the western world nowadays, people are so high strung, anxious and stressed,” said Jessica Needham, a yoga facilitator. “For me, I’m not teaching people how to do fancy postures and poses. I’m educating people on how to take control of their minds, and how to relax when they get anxiety – which are important aspects that I value in yoga.”

As a bonus, you get to treat yourself with an ice-cold beer.

Katelyn Grady, the owner of The Body Electric Yoga Company, said “Yoga is always there for me.”

“We believe in this yoga thing and we think it helps people be better, feel better and maybe be nicer better people,” Grady said. “It is our belief that yoga can help improve the community physically, and spiritually for some people.”

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.

Vegan Food Catering Business Embraces Education, Wellness

Yourhighness Tafari has been a vegan and Puritarian since 1998, which was a decision that motivated him in helping people improve their quality of health in the consumption choices they make.  Tafari’s devotion to spiritual purity, and food education soon became his life’s work.

In 2014, Tafari and co-owner Erica Cobb started the delivery/catering business The Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen in the Wesley Chapel/Tampa area. Over the past two years, the business has made a commitment to provide cleaner eating at an affordable rate while using precision in their vegan cuisines to benefit people mentally and spiritually.

Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen caters all local events, as well as appearances in all of the open air eateries in Hillsborough County.

The business concept arose when both Tafari and Negus traveled to New Orleans to do volunteer assistance with victims of Hurricane Katrina. Negus had already obtained a culinary degree from the University of Texas, and at that point, was not using it.

Tafari and Negus found the experience to be valuable and applicable to a business idea, which led to the creation of The Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen.

These two business owners specialize in all organic, non-meat food preparation.  Both owners show a passion for the work that they do, as well as passing on their culinary expertise to their children and youth of the community.

Tikur Negus, a chef from the Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen, said making quality vegan food and teaching people the benefits of vegan meals is important when representing the business.

“Our focus is on health, vision, and wealth,” Negus said.  “So we educate the people on the better ways of living, while providing food for them to show that vegan food is good for everybody.”

Tafari has been a lifelong Tampa resident. He can be reached through Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen on Facebook, as well as the “SourceTalk Saturday” monthly community events at the Tampa Community Center on 22nd Ave and Fletcher Ave.

The kitchen can be found on social media, as well as a monthly appearance at the Tampa Community Center. They offer monthly trainings for kids under 10 years of age.

Local Photography Studio Captures Memories

Senior year of high school is best described as bittersweet: happy times mixed with sad. Mojo Studios is a professional photography business owned by Patrick Myers, which specializes in capturing the happy memories through a lens.

“We really focus on our customers and make each photo shoot unique to every individual,” Myers said. “That is what really sets us apart from every other photography business.”

Located in Wesley Chapel, Mojo Studios is family-owned and has proudly supported customers all over the Tampa Bay area over the last eight years.

He compares their likeness to that of the restaurant business, saying they’re similar to a steakhouse, suggesting that their higher prices come with a higher quality.

Wharton High School senior, Katy Kipp is beyond happy with making the decision to get her picture taken by Myers.

“I would highly recommend Mojo Studios because it’s just like you’re own personal photo experience that you wouldn’t get with any other photographer.”

The school year is just getting under way, but Kipp wanted to get her pictures done before the school year comes to an end. She said she first heard about Mojo Studios through social media.

“I got super jealous of all the pictures on Instagram and told my mom I wanted to schedule an appointment.”

For more information, visit their company website at www.mojo-studios.com, or call (813)-774-9444.

 

 

People of all ages get active at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Zumba classes are fun, active and free to everyone who stops by “Zumba in the Park” at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. Meagan Simmons has been leading the class every Tuesday night for two years and enjoys seeing old and new faces.

“The great thing about Zumba is that you’re not here for your neighbor, you’re not here for me, you’re here for yourself,” Simmons said.

The class starts promptly as 6:00 p.m. and is a full hour of exercise in a family-friendly environment.

Laurence Alo is a regular at the Zumba class. He’s been coming ever since the downtown YMCA started offering the class in 2014.

“Zumba is best when we have weather like we do today,” Alo said.

The class’s popularity has grown immensely. The number of dancers has increased from 20 people in the first year to an average of 50 to 60 people now. Men and women of all ages are seen in the crowd.

“It is a great way to meet different kinds of people,” Alo said.

“Zumba in the Park” is held every Tuesday at Curtis Hixon Park from 6:00-7:00 p.m.

USF Students Welcome New Living Community

Every university has those infamous dorms – built decades ago – that the university is still leasing out to students each year. USF’s version of these dorms are in the Andros community, and after 50 years, Andros is finally being remodeled.

Some of the big changes include new and improved dorms, retail stores and even an on-campus Publix grocery store. Carolina Zapatas, a current resident, welcomes the changes.

“Knocking all this down is better for the new students because it will bring new opportunities and nicer living areas,” said Zapatas.

Not only will the dorms be nicer but they will also house 1000 more students. Creating bigger dorms is an attempt by USF to get more students to live on campus, and to get away from the university’s “commuter school” reputation.

Adding retail stores and an on-campus grocery store are incentives for students to live on campus because everything they need will be walking distance.

“I think it’s a great idea that they are building a Publix on campus so all the students living on campus who don’t have cars, can just walk there and won’t have to worry or take a bus,” said former Andros resident Isabella Wilson.

There has been no official confirmation of which retail stores will be available on campus, but the Publix will be built by the end of 2017.

 

 

Gumbo Boogie Band Brings Swamp Sound to Town

The Gumbo Boogie Band has been bringing the sound of the swamp to audiences nationwide since 1995, and this Sunday they bring their instruments to Ace’s Lounge in Bradenton.

Their sound is reflective of the band’s name, combining zydeco influences with modern rock to create melodies that pay homage to both the past and the present. Most importantly, they maintain a catalog of original work and covers that are sure to satisfy audiences who prefer these two genres.

It is not often that Bradenton plays host to musical acts with national renown. The Gumbo Boogie Band has performed with established acts such as Buckwheat Zydeco, one of the foremost musicians within the zydeco genre.

The quartet is headed by Ryan Langley, who handles vocals while also playing the piano and accordion. The other three members are drummer Chaz Trippy, saxophonist Ken Smith, and bassist/vocalist Steve Wigginton.

Despite performing together for over 20 years, the band remains in touch with its roots, as they have not reached a level of stardom that precludes them from the less glorious aspects of life as a musical act. This includes hauling their own equipment from gig to gig.

“We all bring our own equipment to each gig, and the degree of help provided varies from venue to venue,” said Ryan Langley. “In the case of Ace’s, owner Renee is who we contacted to sort out the details of when to arrive and what to expect.”

When it comes to performing at Ace’s, the band plans to arrive roughly an hour before their 5 p.m. performance time for a number of reasons.

“Typically we go through our set, testing our gear and going through a brief warm-up to make sure our sound is where we want it to be,” said bassist Steve Wigginton.

However, music is not the only thing that is typically discussed as the band passes the time leading up to a performance. They simply spend too much time together for the minutiae of life not to come up.

“Most of the time we find ourselves talking about what is going on in our lives, family and all of that,” said Smith. “Other times we discuss possible venues that we could play in the future.”

The pre-performance set up and discussions are all part of the group’s shared musical passion. Their existence as a band allows them to collectively follow their individual ambitions as musicians.

The Gumbo Boogie Band’s next stop: Ace’s Lounge located at 4343 Palma Sola Blvd. in Bradenton.

Admission is free and music begins at 5 p.m. Sunday.

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.

 

 

 

 

Tampa Coach Leads Students to Success Through Basketball

For Rychard Williams, being a basketball coach at Rey Park is more than just teaching kids how to score. It gives him the opportunity to help many students and keep them on the right path.

Williams started a nonprofit organization,“We Got Talent,” where he helps his students gain access to higher education by utilizing their athletic and academic abilities

“I was trying to figure out how I could do different things for my kids, to show them different things. I had students that didn’t receive college offers when I thought they should have,” said Williams.

Coach Williams trains his students with scholarship opportunities in mind, but to teach life lessons as well.

“I think I’ve learned how to be a part of a team better and how to carry myself better,” said Charles Dunn, a Blake High School freshman. “Knowing I’m a part of that foundation, coach has just helped me make better decisions and be a better person.”

He meets with his students every day after school to give them a place to be productive. This gives them an opportunity to do their homework, play games and workout.

Williams plans to take some of the kids on a trip to Atlanta, Georgia over spring break to keep them occupied. He will also take them to an Atlanta Hawks basketball game, which most of the students are excited about.

For more information, contact coach Williams at WGTINC4LIFE@GMAIL.COM.

Author James Morrow gives lecture at USF

On Monday, March 21, 2016 renowned science fiction author, James Morrow, will be visiting USF to discuss his new novel, “Galapagos Regained”.

Morrow will be giving a lecture on the fourth floor of USF’s library at 6:00 p.m. where he will discuss issues of science, religion, and pop culture. Joining Morrow will be fellow science fiction author and USF professor, Rick Wilbur.

“I’ve been in the science fiction community for a long time,” said Wilbur. “Getting Morrow to do this lecture was as easy as some scheduling and making phone calls to a comrade.”

After a small amount of aligning schedules between Wilbur, the university, and Morrow, the author is set to discuss his latest novel as a part of USF’s humanities institute’s lecture series.

“I urge all students who can make it to attend Morrow’s lecture,” said Wilbur. “He’s an incredible author and this is a great opportunity to discuss contemporary issues with a knowledgeable professional.”

Morrow, a self-proclaimed scientific humanist, is an author famous for his unconventional historical novels, which often examine the intertwining concepts of religion and science. His latest novel, “Galapagos Regained” plot centers on a Victorian adventurer who decides to repeat the voyages of Charles Darwin.

Anyone, whether a student, faculty or community member, will be able to attend both Morrow’s lecture and the event’s reception and book signing free of cost.

USF alumni eats like a caveman

 A young entrepreneur has taken her passion for eating healthy and combined it with her passion for cookies to create her own company Base Culture. This company is not like any other sweets retailer that sales brownies and banana bread; all of the products are paleo friendly, meaning they follow the popular Paleo Diet.

“The Paleo Diet is nicknamed the caveman diet for a reason” says Base Culture founder Jordann Windschauer, “If you were to follow the Paleo Diet, you eat meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit.” Windschauer praises the diet and even goes on to say that she felt “more alive than ever and had more energy than she had had in years.”

While the Paleo Diet did have its ups it also had its downs. Windschauer enjoyed the new found energy boost, but she also missed all the sweets she used to eat.

“You know it got really hard not being able to just grab banana bread on the way to work in the morning. I looked for products that could satisfy my sweet tooth but would also satisfy paleo requirements but there were none” said Windschauer. It was that same day she took matters into her own hand and stated creating “sweets” that were made solely from seeds, nuts, and fruits.

She then took her paleo friendly sweets she baked to her local gym to share with her friends and they became an instant hit. People soon began offering compensation for her products, and overnight the company Base Culture was created.

Many customers have claimed to not even taste the difference between paleo friendly brownies and regular brownies. “I just tasted it and it’s actually really good and it’s awesome that it’s really healthy” said satisfied customer Lexi Ashby.

The idea of paleo friendly products has taken the market by force. Since the company’s beginning in 2013, Base Culture products are now available in over 50 stores nationwide and will soon be available in Walmart.

 

 

 

 

CSDS responds to the refugee crisis at USF

The University of South Florida Tampa campus has been developing its 5 year Strategic Plan in order to create a more “universal” university that provides students with the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful. The USF Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies (CSDS) hosts conventions to introduce this plan, with distinguished scholars and professionals on matters of international significance.

On Apr. 20, 2016, CSDS hosted a conference to discuss the Western responses to the refugee crisis, and migration from the Middle East and North Africa.

Cassandra Kenning, an undergraduate intern at the Center says, “The Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies hosts these global conferences on USF campus for the students, and unfortunately a lot of students don’t know about the conferences that are happening. We try to hold them all day long starting in the morning till the late or midafternoon so students have the opportunity to come in between their classes. The conferences right now do a really great job at gathering community members to the university to participate.”

At the conference, speakers present their research on specific topics and all the attendees have the opportunity to ask questions. However, the conference isn’t just educational; it also helps bring the community together.

Tiffiany Portacio a student assistant at USF World says, “, I love seeing probably all of the different people that come from all different walks of life.”

Students and faculty can expect new conferences starting Fall 2016, with and new speakers and conference topics. Furthermore, the Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies reminds the community that entrance to these conferences is free and open to the public.

‘Make your own’ style at Florida Strawberry Festival

The Florida Strawberry Festival is the talk of the town in Plant City, but the talk of festival, is the “Make Your Own” Strawberry Shortcake booth. Whether you want cake or a biscuit, or little or a lot of whipped topping, Saint Clement Catholic Church gives visitors the chance to make their perfect shortcake. 

Saint Clement’s booth is one of the three booths that sell shortcake on the festival grounds. The “Make Your Own” style is what makes the church’s booth stand out from the rest. With the help from parishioners and volunteers, the booth has been running for 43 years. The organization has two coordinators that make sure the project continues to be successful. 

“I think it’s an astounding event and I love to be a part of it.”, said co-coordinator, Paul Hetrick. 

Hetrick has been a coordinator for three years, but has volunteered since 1987. His hard work and dedication to the project would not be complete without his co-coordinator, Kevin McFaul and committee. 

“The committee, it just makes this whole thing smooth. I mean there are just so many things going on. That are a part of this operation.”, Hetrick said. “And as coordinators, we are not necessarily checking up on them on a regular basis. They’re taking care of, because the people that are running them are autonomous.” 

There are over a 150 volunteers that contribute to the success of the booth. The committee and volunteers spend many hours of their day preparing berries, washing buckets, and working the booth at the festival. Some volunteers, like Joseph Herrmann, have been helping out since the project first began. 

“I’ve been here since the start. 43 years.”, Herrmann said. “And the first day we actually cut berries by hand with the prairie knives.” 

Now, there are machines that cut and wash the berries, which makes the process easier. 

Hetrick hopes that people visiting the festival not only get a delicious shortcake, but a friendly and welcoming experience. 

The booth is running all 11 days of the festival. Tickets are four dollars and can be bought at eight different Publix locations beforehand.

 

Poetry fights against black on black crime

 

Andrea Little and Hector Angus are not your typical college students. They are owners of a grocery store, 1 Apple Grocery.

The University of South Florida students put their money together to help a low-income neighborhood thrive in this “food desert.”

Phil Scott has been president of Black on Black Rhyme Tampa for the last three years.  The poetry troop is the longest running in the Tampa area.

The troop assembles every third Friday of every month at Joffrey’s Coffee House. Their aim is to help the people in the poorer side of the community be able to express themselves in a healthy way.

When asked, “is it worth it,” Phil Scott answers, “Undoubtedly. From the neighborhood that I come from, it’s vital to our survival as a community, in order to have these outlets for us”.

Located at the corner of 8th and 15th street in downtown Ybor, Joffrey’s Coffee House hosts the Black on Black Rhyme shows every third Friday of each month.

Phil Scott is FAMU graduate, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Music. He is currently the band director at Van Buren Middle School.

He says, “I didn’t choose Black on Black, Black on Black really chose me.  It was kinda like they just welcomed me with open arms”.

Black on Black Rhyme Tampa show times are available on the Tampa Bay Poetry page on Facebook. Be sure to check out there show this Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m.

Tarpon Springs High School Marching Band achieves success

Tarpon Springs High School’s marching band program is a National Pilot Program that focuses on building leadership skills through the arts. The marching band has won many state and national competitions as well as a world competition. Two years ago, the marching band had the honor to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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.

Local Artists Showcase Talent at Don’t Stop St. Petersburg

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg just came back for the event’s third year in the Arts District of downtown. Over 40 local and regional musicians came out to play on the streets showcasing some of the raw talent this city holds.

The event was crowded with people checking out all of the musicians, artists and other vendors that volunteered for the event. There was a wide variety of art styles and food, representing the artistic diversity in St. Pete. The event served as a great venue for bringing the community together for the day.

Several successful bands such as Underoath and Sleepwave have come out of St. Pete, and events like this are a great way for local musicians to get noticed and supported. The same thing goes for the other vendors that are hoping to grow their businesses.

Don’t Stop St. Petersburg was a great success, and there is no doubt that we will be seeing it come back again next year.

USF offers outreach with autism program


 

TAMPA, Fl– The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities has been established at the University of South Florida for 23 years.

“We were the first C.A.R.D. center here in the state developed by families who really saw the need to have these direct supports and services that links with our resources,” said C.A.R.D.’s Program Coordinator Christine Rover.

The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at USF is one out of seven sites across the state providing free services, resources, and training assistance for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder across the area.

C.A.R.D’s very own Program Assistant and Social Media Coordinator Adrian Ruiz has her own very personal connection with the non-profit organization.

“Well I’m a unique situation, I actually work here at C.A.R.D but I’m also a parent of a child with autism,” stated Ruiz, “I’ve seen the impact of C.A.R.D first hand, they’ve been to my home and they’ve been to my child’s school. They work one on one with her teachers and her trainings and just providing those resources and assistance to me directly with her education.”

“We know that our families become more engaged in their community and more successful in school and in employment through our training initiatives,” explained Rover. “The impact has not only educated our community, but with the families with individuals with autism spectrum disorder can be really successful.”

If you want to learn more about C.A.R.D, visit their Facebook page or visit their center located at the University of South Florida.