You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2010.

Like you, I breathed a sigh of relief on November 30, the last day of hurricane season. Thankfully, we dodged bad weather. A lot of work goes into getting prepared for storms and other disasters and your United Way works with many organizations to make sure we’re ready.

Juvenile Welfare Board is one of those organizations. You may know them best as the organization that supports the healthy development of Pinellas County children and their families. United Way of Tampa Bay and Juvenile Welfare Board (JWB) launched the Disaster Recovery Leadership Network in 2006 to help Pinellas health and human services organizations recover after a disaster. Today we have about a dozen organizations as members and have developed a comprehensive communications plan. In case of a disaster, each member provides staffing assistance at a recovery management center, funded by United Way and JWB, to help affected organizations get back on their feet as soon as possible.   

For example, if a day care center is damaged and can’t open because of a disaster, the parents who depend on it can’t go to work. The Disaster Recovery Leadership Network has a database of all 1,100 child care providers in Pinellas County and will help find other day care facilities for the children, allowing the parents to return to work so the county gets back to normal as soon as possible.

Along with these shared responsibilities for disaster recovery, United Way of Tampa Bay and Juvenile Welfare Board also share a vision to help children and youth succeed. We fund many of the same programs including those at Community Action Stops Abuse, Religious Community Services, Alpha House, Coordinated Child Care, Pinellas Association for Retarded Children, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Operation PAR.

So much in common makes for extraordinary partnerships. I wish all of our partners, including you, a happy and healthy holiday season.



Diana Baker, President/CEO


In support of American Express Members Project’s School Day, United Way and local AmeriCorps volunteers spent their Saturday improving two Tampa schools.

One hundred and twenty volunteers visited Alexander Elementary and Pierce Middle Schools on November 13 to landscape, paint, deliver supplies, and help with other school improvements.

 “This is a great example of what we’re trying to do with through United Way’s HandsOn Tamp Bay volunteer platform,” said Stephen Ponzillo, United Way Director of Community Services and Public Policy. “This is about bringing people together to convert good intentions into greater impact.”

 The American Express Members Project is an online initiative to encourage card and non-card members to donate, volunteer or share their stories, similar to United Way’s call to give, advocate, and volunteer. American Express teamed up with HandsOn Network in five cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Cleveland. The Tampa project, titled “Small Steps to Big Change” granted $18,000 in classroom supplies and landscaping materials to benefit the students, teachers, and administrators of both schools! 

For one HandsOn Tampa Bay (HOT) volunteer, the project hit close to home. Michael Bench has been a HOT volunteer for a year. And when he saw the opportunity to serve at Pierce Middle School, he was instantly motivated to volunteer there. 

 “I went to school at Pierce in 1994. The ability to give back to the community and my school was the most rewarding part. It’s getting back to the school and make positive changes,” he said.

A highlight of the American Express project was a mural painted by the volunteers. They signed their names on the 6-foot by 12-foot mural as a permanent reminder of our community’s commitment to education.

With just the five HandsOn affiliates involved nationwide, United Way’s HandsOn Tampa Bay was proud to join with American Express, and take “small steps to big change” in our Tampa Bay community.

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