Answering the call to action after the departure of Hurricane Irma, they cleaned up fallen branches in mid-Tampa neighborhoods and in Rowlett Park, where they toiled alongside Tampa city workers, and they came out in force to clean up the Hillsborough River, pulling out gas cans, trash cans, old tires and even a bicycle.
They are the Men of Vision, a 175-member organization of middle and high school students from at-risk neighborhoods who have a common goal: graduate from high school and lead productive lives.
"They started working right after the storm,'' said Ross Anderson, who founded the organization with Woodrow Samuel in 2006.
They were on the job for four days, cleaning up yards in east Tampa, Belmont Heights, Jackson Heights, Sulphur Springs and Seminole Heights.
"Our neighborhoods were filled with debris,'' said Pierre Alsint, 18, Anderson's adopted son and president of Men of Vision.
Anderson, a former teacher who is now program manager for student advocacy for Hillsborough County schools, said his hopes for the program have been realized. He said 98 percent of the students in the program graduate from high school. Many have gone on to college or vocational schools and have become teachers, police officers or have joined the military, he said.
"We're finding that they're all still giving back,'' Anderson said.
Contact Philip Morgan at [email protected]