Students work with service organization to give back to community

 

Many students from all over Tampa Bay have joined SALT (Serve and Love Together) and meet every Monday at St. James Church in Tampa to give back to those in need.

Mina Hanna and Maggie Attia are two of the volunteers at the organization, and SALT teaches them about how they can improve the city they live in one week at a time.

“Well this is a wonderful organization as you see it gives back to the community,” Hanna said. “It gives back to the community and we see our fruits produce more fruit.”

Everything is donated from people in the community who are willing to help out.

“We also teamed up with another organization that hands out blankets and toiletries and socks,” Attia said.

SALT partnered with Blanket Tampa Bay and they have access to many necessities to share with those in need throughout the Bay Area.

People like Hanna and Attia truly see the difference that the organization makes on people’s lives every day by talking to people about God and giving them hope. SALT is affiliated with a Coptic youth group in the area.

“There used to be a guy on drugs, and his whole life was messed up, and I cannot tell you how much this organization influenced him. And now this guy is the most spiritual guy you’ll ever meet,” Hanna said.

SALT does a small gesture once a week, but it leaves a lifelong impact on some of these people that they get the pleasure of serving.

To learn more about this organization, please contact Mina Hanna at (727) 333-5318

That Extra Step

Located in St. Petersburg, this school goes above and beyond when it comes to the concept of inclusion within learning environments.

Midtown Academy stands out because most schools do not use the inclusionary system, but rather separate students with disabilities. In every class, Midtown Academy includes students with disabilities in the same classes with other students in their grade.

“We have an inclusionary model in which all of our students who are special ed[ucation] [are] just in regular classrooms depending on their IEP, or Individualized Education Program,” says Portia Slaughter, Principal of Midtown Academy.

Teachers agree with Slaughter when it comes to the way education is taught at Midtown Academy, like Daniel Doolin, a teacher at this school.

“This school really showcases inclusion,” Doolin says. “When you put students together and you hold them all to a common standard, the low ones will rise to the high ones, and the high ones will pull them up.”

Speaking from experience, Doolin says the most important thing is getting to know your students personally.

“It is important that you have met their parents, that you know where they live, that you know what they do for fun, that you know their brothers’ names and sisters’ names,” Doolin says. “Because you will find throughout the day that you’re going to need that information to pull them back in.”

Slaughter grew up in the St. Petersburg community and is glad to give back. She finds that teachers are easily accommodating to children and their specific needs without separation.

Midtown is preparing many of their students for the real world, where they will not be separated because of their disability.

Leadership Day Held at Fox Chapel Middle School

Students and parents filled the halls of Fox Chapel Middle School on Wednesday to take part in Leadership Day.

Arianna Carter, a seventh-grader and member of student government, spent the day playing in the band and working behind the scenes to make the day run smoothly.

“Leadership Day is a day that we show Hernando County what the seven habits are and how we use them to help the community,” said Carter.

The Leader in Me is a school transformation model, developed in partnership with educators, that empowers students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.

Magen Schlechter, a teacher at Fox Chapel, said this program allows students to learn what it means to be a leader and how little changes in their personal life can help them persevere.

“Each habit represents certain character features that we should work on and improve on day-to-day to help us be the most effective leaders we can be,” Schlechter said.

Over 25 projects took part in Fox Chapel’s third-annual Leadership Day. The school’s Beta Club will be nationally recognized by the Leader in Me program for completing over 350 hours of community service.

Carter, a member of the Beta Club, is inspired to continue being a leader outside the classroom.

“We really just help around the community,” Carter said. “I heard that high schools have beta clubs too and I’d like to help more.” 

For Schlechter, watching her students embrace this program is one of many things she’s happy about.

“I’m really proud that the kids have found something to be proud of,” said Schlechter. “You see kids in a new light and they become completely different people and it’s an awesome thing.”

 

Minority women’s golfing group looks to bridge gap in professional world.

After leaving the corporate office one woman made the decision to build Women of Color Golf, an organization centered on golf and networking.

The organization’s founder and director, Clemmie Perry, made it her duty to increase the awareness of golf within the minority women community.

Women of Color Golf (WOCG) is a non-profit organization that sets out to promote and encourage minorities and women of color to learn the benefits of golf. Ms. Perry not only wants women to fundamentally understand the game of golf, but she also wants Women of Color Golf to be a gateway to networking and partnerships.

“We serve on various boards, such as the World Golf Foundation and other organizations that will help leverage our mission,” said Perry.

Many women within this organization have benefited from the outlets that Women of Color Golf provides. Robyn Thompson, the Millennial Leader for WOCG, says that this organization is the needed push to bridge the gap between male and female golfers.

“I think we have to educate women, and that’s one of the great things about Women of Color Golf. In the beginner session they basically educate you on what golf is, how you play the game before you even go out on the golf course,” said Thompson.

Perry has built an organization that is more than just “learning how to play golf.” Women of Color Golf has been national recognized by President Barack Obama for the diligence that it provides to the Tampa Bay area. There is hope for further expansion and an excitement for future endeavors.

USF Alzheimer’s Institute provides care to families along with patients

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute provides one of many support groups across the country that is host to caregivers of a family member with a mental illness such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Edward Batchelor and Margaret Hammoutree have attended the Byrd Institute’s support group for many years, and understand the stages of caring for a loved one.

“They educate them on what they can expect,” Batchelor said. “What possibly can they expect? Because you never know, and you can never fully prepare for what you might come across.”

According to Alz.org, 15.9 million caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in 2016,  valued at $230.1 billion.

The Byrd Institute, which has dedicated their focus towards patient caregiving and research for mental illness, holds open events for long-term caregivers and newcomers who have not experienced the impact of a support group.

“If you realize somebody else is going through the same thing you’re going through, it’s that kind of comradery and support that, ‘okay if this person can do it, I can do it too,’” Hammoutree said.

Eileen Poilley, the support group moderator at the Byrd center, has witnessed the learning curve that caregivers experience.

“They may learn a better way to communicate,” Poilley said. “They may understand some of the behaviors that their loved one does and not get upset.”

Poilley has also seen the changes to Batchelor and Hammoutree, and their outlook on the importance of attending support groups.

Batchelor took notice of the newcomers who broke down in emotion during the meeting, as he did on behalf of his wife when he first started attending.

“I continue to be involved in the support group because I feel like I can kind of help somebody else who’s behind me in this process as they get to that point, be prepared and make those decisions in a way that’s a good fit for their family,” Hammoutree said.

USF student lends hand to community

USF business student Daniel Iskander is taking a new spin on New Year’s resolutions and his version is not for his personal benefit.

Every day Iskander plans to help as many people as he can. Whether it is a monetary gift or a simple gesture of kindness, Iskander hopes to impact the lives of many this year.

“From now on, any time someone is in need I go out of my way and maybe get them some food or $10, $15, and then their reactions would make my day,” Iskander said.

Living near campus, Iskander has no trouble finding people around the area who could use some kindness and a helping hand.

Iskander said his inspiration comes from watching his father’s kind gestures as he was growing up. 

“My dad used to always give donations to everybody there and they all used to line up in huge crowds because they all loved him,” Iskander said.

Just like his father, Iskander sees himself taking his kind gestures to a larger scale and helping people out in third world countries later on down the road.

Rocking the Curtis Hixon Park

 

Since 2010, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park has held a “Rock the Park” monthly concert series that invites local bands, up-and-coming artists and vendors to come together and spend a relaxing evening with the community.

Held in the evenings on the first Thursday of every month, guests can sit in the amphitheater and enjoy the free and dog-friendly event with half a dozen decorated pop-up shops and local ska, alternative, or rock bands who hope to gain exposure.

First-time performer Shane Schuck, whose stage name is Pajamas, was thrilled to be able to play a set for his friends and new fans right in his own backyard.

“My buddy, Joe, does some of the promoting here,” the Clearwater resident said. “He just offered it to me a couple months back and it sounded like an awesome opportunity.”

One new business in particular was extremely excited to promote their brand at the concert. “Whatever Pops,” an ice pop-stand-turned-storefront, was selling organic ice pops to the audience.

“The Popsicles have natural ingredients with no added sugar,” employee Anthony Licary said. “Even the ingredients like the teas and fruit are locally grown in Tampa.”

Anyone who is interested in attending the event, booking a performance slot, or becoming a vendor can find more information on the Rock the Park Facebook page, or on their website  http://www.rocktheparktampa.com.

 

International students bring unique perspective to USF

The University of South Florida is filled with students from all over the world, and if we took a closer look, we can see all of the amazing characteristics that the students bring with them.

Rafael Migoyo is a senior graduating Dec. 10, 2016 with a degree in Aging Sciences. His parents brought him to the United States from Cuba at the age of five so that he could receive a better education.

When he isn’t busy doing research, Migoyo enjoys photography and investing.

“I learned those things when I was thinking about the opportunity that I was given coming into the United States…” said Migoyo. “So I said to myself, ‘what’s something my mom and dad aren’t doing because they weren’t raised here?’”

Once he graduates, Migoyo wants to take a year away from school to work on some research with his friend, and research adviser, Angie Sardina. From there he will continue his education so that he can specialize in Geriatrics.

“Rafael has a bright future ahead of him,” said Sardina.

When asked where he would like to be in the future, Rafael stated that he wants to merge his two passions: Medicine and Photography.

“I would like to marry both of those things and travel the world as a doctor helping people, but also doing photojournalism,” said Migoyo

USF club spreads kindness across campus

USF students are spreading random acts of kindness, just for the sake of it. Their mission? To make you smile, and then share that smile with someone else. Whether it’s free food, coffee, or even hugs, students like Megan Dias, through the club Eudaimonia, are spreading positivity throughout the campus community during USF’s Random Acts of Kindness Week.

The general reaction to the free items was positive, although there were some skeptics when the free food was being handed out, as a tasty donut and cup of coffee aren’t just given away every day.

“People always think there’s a catch but there is none,” Dais said. “Eudaimonia is doing good for the sake of good.”

The club was founded after a friend of the founder passed away, and it all began with free hugs right outside the Marshall Student Center. It is all about turning something tragic into something positive.

The club goes deeper than just sending people off with a smile; it’s also about getting people out of their comfort zones. The group believes that people don’t always interact with others as much as they should, so they engage total strangers in conversation and do their best to spread positivity to their fellow students.

What started as a small group of friends has blossomed into a club that’s tripled in size in recent years, now having over 100 members. 100 people helping others have a brighter day.

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.