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North Pinellas business news for Nov. 3



The Homeless Emergency Project Thrift Store has been rebranded and reorganized and had its grand reopening Saturday at 1212 N Betty Lane in Clearwater.

The rebranding initiative was launched to create awareness of the store's tie-in to the Homeless Emergency Project, located a block from the store.

HEP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides homeless individuals and families with housing, food, clothing and supportive services necessary to obtain self-sufficiency. HEP's 8-acre campus includes emergency, transitional and permanent housing, a dental clinic, a veterans clubhouse and offices.

The thrift store offers 13,000 square feet of gently used clothing, furniture, antiques, collectibles and more. All of the proceeds from items sold at the Thrift Store support HEP programs, and HEP residents also receive job skills training there.

"There was a definite disconnect between the public and our mission," said HEP Thrift Store manager Jannie Dupre. "I don't think our customers realized how much they were helping our community by shopping here, and we wanted to inform them."

In addition to the new look, the store has incorporated a new tagline throughout its materials and messaging: Changing Lives With Every Purchase.

"It helps our customers to realize that we're not just a typical thrift store. We have a mission to better our community by helping others," Dupre said.

In addition to the rebranding, the store has been reorganized to create a more pleasant shopping environment. Signs now direct shoppers to different departments and a TV donated by a local Walmart provides messages about HEP and the population it serves.

To make donations or contact the HEP Thrift Store for more information, call (727) 442-9041, ext. 330, email, or visit the store. The thrift store also has a Facebook page that is kept updated with pictures of incoming inventory: at

• • •

The Mary Kay Foundation has awarded a $20,000 grant to the Haven of RCS, a domestic violence shelter in Clearwater.

That grant is among more than $3 million in grants awarded to 150 domestic violence shelters around the United States and Puerto Rico during October, which was Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Haven's grant is unrestricted, but intended to maintain services and programs for survivors of domestic abuse.

Every year the Mary Kay Foundation awards grants to at least one shelter in every state. Remaining grants are given to states based on their population. Florida received nine grants this year.

The Haven of RCS Domestic Violence Center is a full-service facility that serves more than 15,000 people each year. The Haven shelters nearly 400 women and children.

The program will use the grant funds to help deliver emergency shelter services to women and children fleeing abusive homes.

"Religious Community Services Inc. and the victims that we serve are grateful for this support from the Mary Kay Foundation," said Caitlin Higgins Joy, RCS CEO and president. "Our domestic violence center has been empowering victims for over 30 years and this grant will go a long way to providing help and hope for people in need here in Pinellas County."

The Mary Kay Foundation's annual shelter grant program has provided $34 million to domestic violence organizations since 2000.

• • •

Largo Medical Center has received an "A" Safe Hospital Score from the Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits.

The score is derived from Leapfrog's key questions and publicly reported data, allowing for hospitals to be compared on their safety performance. Hospitals may receive an A, B, C, D or F letter grade.

"As the residents in our community continue to take a more active role in choosing where to go for their healthcare needs, it continues to be our duty to focus on hospital safety on many levels," said Anthony Degina, CEO at Largo Medical Center. "It is the dedication of our employees and our physicians to putting patients first that gives us the capability of earning recognitions like this."

A blue ribbon panel of top patient safety experts provides guidance to the Leapfrog Group for the Hospital Safety Score. The score is calculated using publicly available data on patient injuries, medical and medication errors, and infections.

To see the full report, go to

Largo Medical Center earned its first "A" Safe Hospital Score in 2012.

• • •

The Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce will hold an open house for its members and the public from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

The chamber recently welcomed a new executive director, Susan Petersen, and added new programs and member benefits.

The chamber building at 200 Main St. in Safety Harbor also has a new mural that will dedicated during the open house. Mural artist Truman Adams of Sarasota will be present for the dedication of his interpretation of key elements from Safety Harbor's history.

Anyone who would like to attend should RSVP by email to or call (727) 726-2890 by Nov. 5.

Send business news items to Nova Beall at 1130 Cleveland St., Suite 100A, Clearwater, FL 33655; or fax to (727) 445-4119, or email to

North Pinellas business news for Nov. 3 10/31/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 1, 2013 4:18pm]
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