Posted by: tampachamber on Friday, October 19, 2018
Elena P. Ketchum, Stichter, Riedel, Blain & Postler,P.A. "Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve." Martin Luther King, Jr. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank Have you ever taken a moment and really considered your many blessings? Perhaps in these days of technological wonders that can easily consume our every waking minute – Facebook, Twitter, 24-hour news service, constant email contact both personally and professionally, the Internet as a whole – I know that I don’t raise my head as much as I should to appreciate my individual blessings or the depth and breadth of the needs of my community. After participating in Leadership Tampa’s Community Outreach Day, however, my eyes are refocused on the needs of our community and the many organizations that are constantly keeping their focus on a variety of community challenges. Our Community Outreach Day began with Clara Reynolds, President and CEO of The Crisis Center, and Thomas Mantz, Executive Director of Feeding Tampa Bay, outlining in broad strokes the many social services offered in the Tampa Bay area.  Social services touch upon education, employment, housing, food, health, veterans, the elderly, the homeless population, children, and other vulnerable populations. Our Leadership Tampa Class of 2019 also learned about the poverty cycle and the manner in which those in our community can find themselves in that cycle for many years, if not their entire lives.  For those in need, effective and efficient access to social services is a necessity.  This is where Call 211 comes in.  “2-1-1 Professional Information and Referral Specialists work with callers to assess their needs, determine their options and provide appropriate programs/services, give support, intervene in crisis situations and advocate for the caller as needed.” LT’19 thanks Ms. Reynolds and Mr. Mantz for giving of their time and talent to lay the necessary foundation for our class to understand the needs and challenges of those in our community. With this invaluable foundation, members of LT’19 visited various community organizations to experience first-hand the work being performed by each of them on a number of fronts:
  • The Crisis Center Tampa Bay
  • Feeding Tampa Bay
  • I.C.H. Program
  • Sulphur Springs Community School
  • Tampa Police Department
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Frameworks of Tampa Bay
  • Junior Achievement BizTown
  • Dress of Success
  • DACCO Behavioral Health
  • Quantum Leap Farm
  • James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital
  • Quest, Inc.
  • Goodwill
  • YMCA Reads
  • Sulphur Springs YMCA
  • Metropolitan Ministries
  • Redefining Refuge
  • University Area Community Development Corporation
[gallery ids="9831,9830" type="rectangular"] I visited the R.I.C.H. House in the morning, In the afternoon, I met with individuals working to combat human trafficking in our community.  Through both of these experiences, I once again appreciated the instrumental work being done in our community. The R.I.C.H. House is truly inspiring.  This organization, run by three officers with the Tampa Police Department, provides a safe haven for children living in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.  Through the R.I.C.H. House, children are provided assistance with homework, access to educational materials, field trips, after school snacks and meals, arts and crafts, and a multitude of other activities.  In the words of Anne Frank, the R.I.C.H. House and the officers working there are not wasting a single moment to improve the lives of the children walking through its doors.  In fact, as a direct result of their efforts, more children are graduating from high school, enrolling in college and the military, and looking forward to a bright future. Equally inspirational was the work being done by those on the frontlines of battling human trafficking in the Tampa Bay area. Learning the stories of the victims was particularly difficult but important to hear. It was important to learn that human trafficking does not only come in the form of sexual abuse but forced labor.  Most human trafficking victims are U.S. citizens with approximately 50% of the victims being trafficked by their parents. The victims are both girls and boys, with victims being as young as 9 years of age.  It was inspiring to meet those in law enforcement, the legal profession, and in the non-profit arena working to provide an escape and a path forward for the victims. I know my classmates had equally moving experiences at the organizations they visited. One group experienced walking a mile each way to buy groceries.  Another group experienced a therapy exercise with therapy horses.  These experiences will not only stay with us but also motivate us to refocus our eyes on the needs of our community and use our time, talent, and treasures to shine a light on these issues.  Please visit these organizations’ websites and find one that speaks to you to volunteer your time, talent, and treasures. Let us not wait another single moment to make our Tampa Bay community one that cares for all of its members.  LT ’19 extends our sincere thanks to Sykes Enterprises for sponsoring Community Outreach Day.  A huge thank you to Amanda Uliano and her committee members – Melissa Silvest, Laura Frost, Kiana Wilson, Axah McCallah, Mark Segel, and Christopher Rogers - for organizing this extraordinary day and program!  A special thank you to Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa for providing the meeting space for the Community Outreach Day meetings.