Local Organization Inspires Young Girls

The Centre for Girls is a youth organization aimed at girls from ages 5 to 14. It is led by Sartura Shuman-Smith, the center’s program director. The center is also organized by program manager, Walter Jennings.

“This place is so therapeutic and so healing for me,” Shuman-Smith said. “It is just so important for me to know I have a purpose.”

When asked about the focus of the Centre for Girls, Shuman-Smith said, “We’re not creating girls or enhancing girls, we are creating women and developing women.” She talked about the accounting classes, dance instruction, as well as a Lego program for the young women ages five to nine.

Walter Jennings, the program manager, is in charge of after-school help, as well as developing a curriculum for all of the girls attending.

“Our heart’s passion and desire is for young people to come up with good, constructive ways to deal with some of the issues and challenges that they have,” Jennings said. He talked about how his girls attended the center and how much he feels he owes the organization.

The Centre for Girls is located on 105 W. Sligh Avenue and serves an enrichment program for girls ages 5 to 14. The program is not free, although the website offers program assistance. There are currently 46 girls attending the center.

Non-profit organization helps children succeed

According to the website, Junior Achievement of Tampa Bay uses hands-on experiences to help young people understand the economics of life. In partnership with business and educators, Junior Achievement brings the real world to students, opening their minds to their potential.

Fifth grade student Sonja Assidy is the CEO of Bright House. She works hard to make sure her business runs smoothly.

“I take checks to Kane’s Furniture, I go get the checks from Kane’s Furniture, bring it here, make sure my CFO signs it and then put it where it needs to go,” Assidy said.

Sally Eidge is the Director of Junior Achievement and sees over a hundred students daily. She wants every student to learn a valuable lesson.

“They need to understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, that you actually have to earn it and then spend it wisely,” Eidge said.

Before visiting JA BizTown, students complete a pre-visit curriculum program where they learn basic economic principles such as how to manage their personal bank account.

Kelly Thorne is a fifth grade language arts teacher at Deer Park Elementary and prepared her students for 12 weeks prior to coming to JA Biztown.

“We spend a lot of time on how to write checks, how to deposit checks, that whole process and how to budget their money,” Thorne said. “How when they get a paycheck, they have to make sure they save some money for their lunch, and then they have some spending money.”

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.

Local boutique dresses women for success, teaches them to succeed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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