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Moses House waits for a home

From left: Tyquan King, 7, Jibreel Quinones, 7, Berthine Louis and Corey Myrick, 7, talk about making different creations from bones during a YMCA Summer Camp held at Sulphur Springs Elementary School in Tampa. Moses House is an organization designed to give kids from low-income families a place for arts.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times

From left: Tyquan King, 7, Jibreel Quinones, 7, Berthine Louis and Corey Myrick, 7, talk about making different creations from bones during a YMCA Summer Camp held at Sulphur Springs Elementary School in Tampa. Moses House is an organization designed to give kids from low-income families a place for arts.

SULPHUR SPRINGS

Jamiah Bedeau knows how to make bone soup.

Take the top part of the head and hold it like a bowl. Add fake bones. Mostly the ones around the jaw and hands.

To make it good, add sugar.

Jamiah, 9, was busy making "soup" this week with a group of children at Sulphur Springs Elementary School.

They call themselves the Moses House. But, technically, they are homeless. Their building closed in 2003. Their founder died a few years later.

A grandfather of 35, Taft Richardson was an artist who worked with cleaned animal bones. His organization began giving children and teenagers from low-income families a place for arts in the early 1990s. Some of his bone sculptures stood 4 feet tall.

He succumbed to prostate cancer in 2008.

"It took a while to recover from that and decide if Moses House would even continue after his passing," said Lance Arney, Moses House executive director.

Already, the organization had pulled out of an East Tampa center that had served public housing residents. After those complexes were demolished, the population migrated north, to Sulphur Springs and beyond.

Taft's older brother, Harold Richardson, said the group needs its own building. Children need room to run around, and places to leave their painted posters to dry overnight.

The center in East Tampa is for sale. Organizers plan to use the proceeds to launch a new home near Sulphur Springs.

On Tuesday, Richardson watched the raucous kids smile and build. Bones piled atop bright construction paper. Some spilled onto the classroom floor, and a couple of boys picked them up. A girl swung elephant ear bones near her heart-shaped earrings.

Alex Velazquez, an 8-year-old with a curly mohawk, nervously twisted his T-shirt as he spoke. He pointed to a picture of a bone snake that he had made to stretch across a table.

"It's so fun that I can't even stop."

Ileana Morales can be reached at imorales@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.

Moses House waits for a home 08/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 4:30am]
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