Leadership Tampa 20 Community Outreach Day was an impactful experience for all of those in attendance. The Children's Board of Hillsborough County hosted the program. It's central-local in Ybor City was a great location from which to explore the community. The 49 members of the class joined a motivated and well-rounded ten-person planning committee made up of LT Alumni, the Chamber staff and the class chair and vice-chair.
The day's sponsor, Christopher Rogers from Sykes Enterprises Incorporated, was a fitting choice as their stated goal as a company is: To help people, one caring interaction at a time.
Kicking off the day, the group was introduced to the Non-Profit Community in Tampa Bay by Clara Reynolds, President & CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, and Thomas Mantz, the Executive Director of Feeding Tampa Bay. They introduced the issues that social services organizations strive to impact: Education, Health, Employment and Food & Housing. They also brought to light the populations in our community that use social services: elderly, veterans, homeless, children and other vulnerable populations. Because 1 in 7 adults in our community uses these services, Mr. Mantz encouraged everyone to remove from our language "them" and "these people". Mr. Mantz also provided a very clear example that was particularly impactful in speaking about diabetes care and its relationship to food banks. He said that a diabetic-related hospital stay costs $15,000, diabetes medication costs $2,000 and that the entire family of a diabetic could be fed healthy food to combat the illness for just $800. So, he asked, which should we invest in?
Both Ms. Reynolds and Mr. Mantz described the limitations on how they can use their funding and how that affects the populations they can serve. Ms. Reynolds went further in describing better outcomes for people by allowing individuals to choose from a menu of services to get what they need and to get to "their place of better".
After this great introduction, the group split into 12 smaller groups and headed out into the community to learn and serve.
Crisis Center of Tampa Bay: The mission of the Crisis Center is to ensure that no one in our community has to face a crisis alone. This impressive facility houses several critical services for the entire Tampa Bay area including the Gateway Services (211 call center) and the certified rape crisis center for Hillsborough County. The Gateway Services call center was very eye-opening in several ways. They are the call center for our county's 211 services, 1-844-My-FLVET (expressly for and staffed by veterans), the Suicide Lifeline (including the phones at the top of the Skyway Bridge), and the Substance Abuse Hotline. The busiest time at the call center is Monday at 9 a.m., when parents have their kids out of the house or individuals are safely at their jobs and can call for help. The group also found out that the call center is staffed by highly trained and rigorously supervised professionals, but, because the burnout rate is about 5,000 calls or 1 year, there is a constant need for new staff. The group was able to tour the Rape Crisis Center and learn that this facility is the resource for all of Hillsborough County and provides extensive medical and counseling services. Please go to https://www.crisiscenter.com/ for more information.
Meals on Wheels of Tampa: We nourish and enrich the lives of Tampa seniors and homebound by providing hot meals delivered daily by a caring volunteer. The team deployed to Meals on Wheels learned that the organization provides 1400 meals per day here in our community. This meal-delivery also serves as a safety check. The 26 employees of the organization depend on over 60 volunteers a day and all private funding. The "a-ha" learning for the LT team was that this is often the only meal the recipients have all day. On a fun note, the organization also deliver Holiday Pies and Birthday cakes! Please go to https://mowtampa.org/ for more information.
YMCA Reads: A Literacy/Mentoring Initiative Targeting First Through Third Grade Students. Reading changes children's lives. Learning to read opens young eyes and minds to a world full of possibilities. The YMCA READS! program seeks to close the gap in students' reading performance and the State of Florida's reading performance expectations. This team visited the Sulfur Springs K-8 Community School to see the YMCA Reads program in action. The school serves 950 students in a small 1 square mile district and this reading program is one of the ways the school improves outcomes for their students. For more information please go to https://www.tampaymca.org/ymca-reads/
Frameworks of Tampa Bay: To teach youth to manage their emotions, develop healthy relationships, and make good decisions for academic, career, and personal success. This team visited Broward Elementary School to see the Frameworks curriculum in action. This curriculum teaches teachers how to instruct students on "Emotional Intelligence". They conduct exercises with students to be emotionally aware and then how to deal with those emotions. The group's "a-ha" moment was that Frameworks helps teachers understand the kids better. Schools with a Frameworks program see a measurable suspension rate decline. For more information please go to https://myframeworks.org/
Junior Achievement BizTown: This engaging, hands-on program that introduces 5th graders to economic concepts, workplace skills, and personal and business finances in a student-sized town built just for them. One lucky team went to visit the JA BizTown and Finance Park. BizTown is a kid-sized town where kids learn important lessons about how businesses operate and what jobs are like in those businesses. The LT team thought that this program makes kids appreciate their parents! The "a-ha" moment was learning that the program relies on volunteers every day – as there are only 8 employees! For more information please go to https://jatampabay.org/programs/ja-biztown/
Feeding Tampa Bay: Feeding Tampa Bay, part of the national Feeding America network, focuses on providing food to the hundreds of thousands of food-insecure families in the 10-county area of West Central Florida. A group from LT'20 went to the Feeding Tampa Bay Mobile Pantry at the University Area Community Development Center near USF. The team spent the morning learning about this important work and spent time distributing food to 230 people who showed up. They learned that there is no bias or criteria for who they serve. Participants simply get in line. Their "a-ha" was how much fresh meat and vegetables were distributed. Additionally, they had a "ta-da" moment in realizing that folks from many walks of life were in line – not just homeless people. For more information on Feeding Tampa Bay Mobile Pantry please go to http://feedingtampabay.org/mobile-pantries/
Metropolitan Ministries: We care for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in our community through services that alleviate suffering, promote dignity and instill self-sufficiency as an expression of the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ. A team went to visit the $25 million Metropolitan Ministries facility just north of Downtown Tampa. They toured the facility and learned about the many programs used to fight homelessness and hunger in our community. The group learned that the people who work and volunteer take care to get to know the people they serve as individuals. The team got to work the Holiday registry, getting families signed up to receive meals during the upcoming holiday season. The big learning for the team was how the MetroMin staff and volunteers are flexible in going to the people in the community. For more information on this organization's work please visit https://www.metromin.org/
MacDonald Training Center: MTC has transformed lives through innovations in educational advancements, vocational training, employment pathways, residential supports and life enrichment opportunities for more than 6 decades. The LT team learned that they train adults in transferable job skills at the MTC, like recycling computers for Jabil and teaching students how to work with patients for Moffit. They also teach social media skills and package all of the SunPass transponders! The team's "a-ha" was just how professional the operation is and that they teach to the full professional standards. For more info on MTC please click on https://macdonaldcenter.org/
CARIBE for Refugees: The CARIBE Program is an Adult Education project funded by the state Department of Children and Family Services. The program provides support and direction to refugees and asylees in learning to speak English and helping to eliminate those barriers to gainful employment. A team went to visit the CARIBE program at Mission Hills Church. There they learned how refugees in our community prepare for Citizenship and learn English. Refugees in this program have come here to Tampa from countries all over the world that are in the news today. CARIBE can also come to your workplace and provide their services to employees. For more information please visit https://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/960/adult-education/resources/caribe/
NOPE Narcotics Overdose Prevention Education: Reaching communities through education, research and support. The all-volunteer organization takes their drug prevention message directly into schools. The LT team caught up with them delivering their program at an assembly of the 6th graders at Franklin Prep Boys Academy. The team learned right along with the 6th graders that if narcotic drugs are taken in 6th grade that person has a 45% chance of becoming an addict. That's why prevention is so important. The program has been very progressive in adapting to new threats like vaping. Visit http://www.nopetaskforce.org/ for more information. Children's Home Network: Improving lives and changing life stories. This organization focuses on Foster Care and operates a 60 kid residential facility complete with maternity care. They place 700 kids a year in foster homes but also work on counseling within families to prevent the need for kids to go into foster care. The teams' big "a-ha" was learning the logistics of keeping kids' lives normal. Go to https://www.childrenshomenetwork.org/ for more information.
Senior Connection Center: a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to helping people age at home with dignity for over 30 years. Help older adults to live with independence and dignity. The team that visited the Center learned that they serve a 5-county area with the Elderly Help Line, Medicare Help, Health & Wellness programs & Elder Abuse Prevention. The organization even has "mini-grants" to help individuals with small projects like wheelchair ramps or to fix broken A/C's. For more info please visit https://seniorconnectioncenter.org/
After a busy morning visiting these 12 organizations, the teams came back to the Children's Board of Hillsborough County to share their learnings with the whole group. Following an entertaining speed round of presentations, the group split up into 5 larger groups for the afternoon deep dive into issues. The issues tackled included Homelessness, Food Deserts, Human Trafficking, the Opioid Epidemic and Veterans Mental Health.
Food Deserts: This team was hosted by the YMCA in Sulfur Springs – in a hands-on experience each group was given $100 to shop for a family and had to make some tough choices which included walking over a mile to a WalMart grocery store to make their money go farther than it would at the convenience store in the neighborhood. They also learned how thoughtful you must be in shopping on a limited budget and with limited transportation options.
Human Trafficking: This team started at the Tampa Police Department with a presentation by TPD, an FBI agent, an advocate from the Crisis Center and a survivor. They learned many disturbing realities - that $32 billion a year is spent in human trafficking and that 12-14 is the average age of victims. One-third of runaways are forced into sex work and 75-80 % are runaway foster children. The team also went on a driving tour of the areas of Tampa where human trafficking is most prevalent.
Opioid Epidemic: A team went to DACCO Behavioral Health to learn about the opioid epidemic in Tampa Bay. They learned how hard drug programs are and that 50% of people relapse within the 1st 3 months and 90% within the 1st year. DACCO uses a medical treatment like methadone and more holistic approaches like acupuncture for underlying pain. They have both in-patient and outpatient programs and it can take 2-5 years to complete a program. They shared that in Hillsborough County the problem is still on the rise.
Mental Health of Veterans: This team got a chance to visit Quantum Leap Farms and learn first-hand about mental health issues like PTSD, traumatic brain injury and anxiety. This unique facility treats veterans with equine (horse) therapy! The horses can sense something is wrong and provide patients with the opportunity to work through obstacles with the horse, which in turn helps them with their issues and pain. The participants must be present around the horses, so being in the moment with the horses means you are not in your problems.
Homelessness: The team that explored the issue of Homelessness took a van tour through a progression of areas that represent different types of homeless populations in our community. They learned about the working homeless, homeless families, homeless but housed, mentally ill homeless and many other factors. The Metropolitan Ministries team was a wealth of information. Explaining how they are taking their programs out into the community to service more people and help more people find stable secure homes. After the bus tour, the group had a discussion with MetroMin's CEO Tim Marks about the need for affordable housing and was treated to a panel discussion on the many faces of homelessness with a group of MetroMin staff. This team shared success stories of people that had been helped by their programs.
Overall this day was heavy with serious issues but hopeful for progress. The program went a long way toward exposing the issues and educating the class on the social services programs that work to wrap around the issues.