Andy Peluso, Connect Committee Member On Wednesday, July 9th, Metropolitan Ministries hosted Emerge Tampa Bay for a lunch program at its facility in Tampa Heights. President and CEO Tim Marks, members of the board of directors, and members of the Metropolitan Ministries staff attended the event. The lunch was followed by directed tours of the Metropolitan Ministries property. Along with several other young professionals, I was first treated to an excellent presentation on the history and mission of Tampa Bay’s premier nonprofit organization. Metropolitan Ministries was formed in 1972 when 13 downtown churches—each of a different denomination—joined together to care for homeless families and hungry people. In the last 40 years, the organization has prepared over 25 million hot meals and provided more than 400,000 safe haven shelter nights to those in need. We learned about other ways in which the organization serves the homeless through its many programs tailored to subparts of the overall mission. For instance, Metropolitan Ministries works to alleviate suffering by assisting families with water and electricity bills. The organization promotes dignity through a GED program, which has enrolled over 190 persons. Metropolitan Ministries instills self-sufficiency through programs such as its transformational “Uplift U,” which is a residential program for homeless families that helps renew each family’s sprit and rebuild their future. We also learned about the future of Metropolitan Ministries. In August 2013, the organization finished construction on 52 new apartment units. The organization now houses approximately 100 families on its property at any given time. Metropolitan Ministries is constructing a chapel, gym, and youth enrichment center, and, along with Hillsborough County, developing a New Metropolitan Ministries Partnership School. Deana Robinson highlighted the lunch with a powerful story about how Metropolitan Ministries guided her and her family through their journey out of homelessness. Inspired by the organization, Deana Robinson is now the organization’s Volunteer Coordinator. There are many ways to get involved. The organization has service opportunities ranging from work in the food pantry to participation in reading and mentoring programs. There is also an Ambassadors Program, which is designed for young professionals who want to learn and contribute in ways in addition to volunteering. Activities of an ambassador include fundraising, partner seeking, and other committee work. Metropolitan Ministries has upcoming events of note. The organization is putting on a Celebrity Bowl-A-Thon on Saturday, August 23rd at the Pin Chasers on North Armenia. Also, Metropolitan Ministries is partnering with Leadership Tampa Alumni to present a free employment boot camp, which will teach job search and other related skills to the Ministries’ residents on Friday, October 26th. Special thanks to our hosts at Metropolitan Ministries, as well as Jordan Miller, Catlin Layton, and the rest of the Connect Committee for organizing the lunch program!