Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Charity awards its last grants

TAMPA — It was a bittersweet day for Brighter Tomorrows members as they awarded $50,000 in grants to six local agencies that deal with domestic violence.

It's the most the seven-year-old all-volunteer nonprofit organization had ever distributed at one time.

And it will be the last time it issues grants.

The nonprofit's annual Grants Award Luncheon marked its final official event. By the end of the year, the group will be dissolved.

"But your organization will live on at our place," said Mindy Murphy, executive director of the Spring, a residential facility for victims of domestic violence.

"That $10,000 grant you gave us last year paid for the elevator in our annex. You have been an integral part of our community," she told about 50 members and guests gathered Nov. 1 at Brio's at International Plaza for the luncheon and check presentations.


Brighter Tomorrows was formed in September 2009 by about 16 men and women who had been part of the Daytime Spring Auxiliary.

"We wanted to help not only the Spring but thought we could help others who assisted domestic violence victims whether it be housing, programs or whatever," said Debbie Fernandez, who became the group's first president and has served as the treasurer since 2012.

"It is going to be missed but we were an older group of members; we couldn't get young members to come in and keep it going," Fernandez said.

Stephanie Hobson is the last president of the group. She addressed the guests at the beginning of the luncheon, saying the group's mission had been "increasing awareness of this problem in the community, sponsoring educational programs, and supporting certain organization that directly addressed the abused victims."

She continued from a prepared statement, "So, it began. Money was raised — over $200,000."

The group's main fundraisers were Elegant Evenings, a series of in-home concerts, and a springtime fashion show and luncheon. This year Elegant Evenings were in the planning stage when Brighter Tomorrows voted in May to dissolve by year's end.

Planning stopped.


Laura Erstad who served as the grant chairwoman and oversaw the applications for the funds, distributed funds at the Nov. 1 luncheon. She called representatives from the six agencies to the front to present their checks and explain how they would use the funds.

Are You Safe executive director Tiffany Bolt also presented Brighter Tomorrows with an award as its Community Partner of the Year. Bolt said Are You Safe provides victims' social services and legal assistance through volunteer attorneys and contracted attorneys.

"If it wasn't for Brighter Tomorrows, our contract attorney position wouldn't exist," she said. "A contract attorney will work through the night to get an injunction ready for court the next morning. This organization (Brighter Tomorrows) saved lives."

Bolt said the contract attorney handled 70 cases, and her board would have to find money to keep the position. Other agencies receiving checks: the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay for trauma recovery services; Mary Lee's House for a child advocate position; Mary & Martha House for a smart table and software for ages 8 to 12; Champions for Children for its Kids on the Block puppet program to teach about child abuse and bullying.

Hobson ended the final grants award luncheon noting how far the group has come in seven years.

"People are more aware and we have come a long way," she said. "This is really, really sad but a few people can't do it all. We are sorry we can't continue — but there is always a brighter tomorrow."

Contact Lenora Lake at

Charity awards its last grants 11/03/16 [Last modified: Friday, November 4, 2016 5:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Man found dead in Dunedin canal identified as missing 63-year-old

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday identified the man found floating in a Dunedin canal as the man who was reported missing last week.

    Charles P. Morris, 63, was found dead in a canal in Dunedin behind Cedar Creek Mobile Home Park, at 605 Michigan Blvd. around 3:48 p.m. Monday. He was reported missing June 21 after he was last seen leaving his home the night before to walk his dog. [ Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  2. A Time magazine with Trump on the cover hangs in his golf clubs. It's fake


    The framed copy of Time magazine was hung up in at least four of President Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland. Filling the entire cover was a photo of Donald Trump.

    A framed copy of Time magazine, dated March 1, 2009, that hangs in at least four of President Donald Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland, is fake. There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time. The real March 2, 2009, issue of Time featured actor Kate Winslet on the cover. But the issue makes no mention of Trump. [Left, Time; right, Angel Valentin for the Washington Post]
  3. Editorial: The human cost of slashing Medicaid


    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice Tuesday but to postpone voting this week on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that is just as devastating as the version passed by the House. The Congressional Budget Office's estimate that Senate bill would eliminate health care coverage for 22 million …

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  4. Vince Young takes shot at Bucs' Ryan Fitzpatrick


    Former NFL quarterback Vince Young, out of the league since 2011 and complaining about not getting more opportunities to prolong his career, took a shot at new Bucs backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in a story posted at …

    Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who signed with the Bucs to be Jameis Winston's backup this fall, has played for six other NFL teams in his 12 seasons in the league.
  5. Editorial: Scott's poor choice for CFO


    Gov. Rick Scott didn't reach too deeply into Florida's talent pool in appointing his friend Jimmy Patronis to fill a vacancy as the state's new chief financial officer. This is an exceptionally weak choice for a Cabinet post that requires a sophisticated understanding of banking and other financial services, and it …