Tuesday, August 14, 2018
News Roundup

Raising dollars and raising hopes

5.3.17

There's a place where teens can go after school to practice their art— be it dancing, acting, singing, writing, drawing or video production— and escape the pressures of school, life and beyond while getting instruction and inspiration from teachers. The Arts Conservatory for Teens offers arts education to students, especially those at risk and underprivileged, at the Enoch D. Davis Center as well as in workshops at schools including John Hopkins and Tyrone middle schools.

Supporters of the Arts Conservatory for Teens, known as ACT, saw the fruits of the program in action at its recent fundraiser, Champions for ACT Breakfast at the Morean Center for Clay, when students performed live and spoke out in a video.

"There isn't really any other place like ACT," said Bryson Maddox. "All the people here are experienced professionals. They are young, they are down to earth. They can help you in anything you want to learn.

Hannah Barrens, an instructor, sees the program's benefits in action.

"Not only are we teaching them to open up their minds creatively, they learn interpersonal skills, they gain confidence, they learn to deal with stress in their everyday lives," she said. "We do yoga and meditation even. They have a chance to try different things and become successful, confident adults."

ACT, which was co-founded by Alex Harris and Herbert Murphy, also gives students the opportunity to perform before a crowd at schools and venues such as the [email protected] Students attend professional performances and some have even played with the Florida Orchestra.

Since 2009, 100 percent of ACT's students have graduated from high school with a diploma and 90 percent have enrolled in higher education.

5.10.17

As Sarah Bareilles' song Brave blasted through the ballroom at the Hilton Carillon Park, proud girls dressed to the nines who attend PACE girls school circulated through the crowd of 400.

Don't run, stop holding your tongue

Maybe there's a way out of the cage where you live

Maybe one of these days you can let the light in

Show me how big your brave is

The girls, who have been involved in the juvenile justice system before coming to PACE, were the guests of honor at the Beth Dillinger Foundation's Value Me luncheon. The nonprofit organization founded by Kay Dillinger and husband Pinellas County Public Defender Bob Dillinger, started out donating clothes to girls at PACE through a project called Beth's Closet. It is named after their daughter who died at age 32 in 2006. Eleven years later, the program has raised more than $1.4 million and funds numerous programs aimed at helping youth and teens in need get tools to succeed. The annual fundraiser, now in its 10th year, features the PACE students walking a fashion runway after a morning of pampering including professional hair and makeup and a limo ride.

The special day doesn't erase their struggles with drugs, abuse or the bouncing between foster homes and schools. But they get to see the people who believe in them by donating money for scholarships.

Cat Coats, a close friend of the Dillingers, emceed the fashion show introducing the girls by name and calling them "stunning and smart" or "gorgeous and accomplished," because they all know it takes more than good hair and makeup to gain success in life. With the stability and support they find at PACE, grades go up, negative behavior improves and hope grows.

Bob Dillinger spoke about another program funded by the Beth Dillinger Foundation. Nourish to Flourish works with Pack A Sack to provide food for chronically hungry children on the weekends. They started the program three years ago when he heard about students going through the garbage at school to find food to take home for themselves and younger siblings to eat on the weekends.

"These children are either going to be an asset to the community or they are going to be a liability and I have seen too many liabilities in my life," he said. "We have to give these children the ability to strive and thrive."

He shared the story of a woman who wrote to Dillinger after hearing him speak about Nourish to Flourish on another occasion. She said she was once a single mother working two jobs and going to community college who had to put her child to bed hungry and wishes the program had been there to help.

"These aren't parents that are derelict," Dillinger said. "They are the working poor."

Comments
The Daystarter: The latest on ‘stand your ground’ arrest; red alert for Red Tide; it’s Taylor Swift time in Tampa

The Daystarter: The latest on ‘stand your ground’ arrest; red alert for Red Tide; it’s Taylor Swift time in Tampa

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• Showers will push ashore and strengthen in the early afternoon. There’s a 40 percent chance of rain mainly in the afternoon, but forecasters believe most of the rain will be gone by t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Amalie Arena tries to lure millenials to its Firestick Grill

Amalie Arena tries to lure millenials to its Firestick Grill

TAMPA — How to attract the cool kids? This is the mantra for so many restaurants these days: That huge generation of millennials eats differently, thinks differently and spends differently than their parents. So how do you reel them in and make them ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Echelman Pier sculpture raises bird safety concerns

Echelman Pier sculpture raises bird safety concerns

ST. PETERSBURG — From the beginning, the city’s plans for an aerial net sculpture on the downtown waterfront provoked alarm from those concerned about birds."I do not think that it is appropriate to place a moving, lighted net in an important flyway ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Passed over for principal, a Pinellas educator with a problematic history is promoted

Passed over for principal, a Pinellas educator with a problematic history is promoted

Robert J. Gagnon was the shoo-in pick to be the next principal of St. Petersburg High last year, at least until "new information" surfaced about his early career that led Pinellas County school superintendent Mike Grego to reverse course.Now, 15 mont...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Anti-straw movement picks up steam on beaches

Anti-straw movement picks up steam on beaches

Efforts to persuade restaurants and bars to discontinue the use of plastic straws are having a rippling effect in beach communities as well as some inland in Pinellas County.Former Treasure Island Mayor Bob Minning is spearheading efforts for the Tre...
Published: 08/14/18
What’s in the way of the Rays’ rebuild

What’s in the way of the Rays’ rebuild

So here's the good news.The Rays are 60-58 after taking two out of three in Toronto. Their so-called "tanking'' plan isn't really a total tank job after all. Call it a rebuilding project, and this rebuilding project looks way ahead of schedule. Not o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough School District will speed up lead testing, following Times investigation

Hillsborough School District will speed up lead testing, following Times investigation

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District said Monday it will accelerate how quickly it is testing school drinking and cooking water for lead.The announcement came several days after the Tampa Bay Times reported that the district didn’t disclos...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Shooter charged with manslaughter in Clearwater stand your ground case

Shooter charged with manslaughter in Clearwater stand your ground case

Frustration and anticipation have packed the roughly three weeks since Michael Drejka shot Markeis McGlockton in a convenience store parking lot in a case that has reignited the debate over Florida’s stand your ground law.And on Monday, it took a dra...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Find A Friend: Paddington the Black Cat

Find A Friend: Paddington the Black Cat

Sweet! Friday (Aug. 17) is National Black Cat Appreciation Day. Love has no color, but Paddington and his black kitten siblings are all ready to celebrate. There are lots of reasons to adopt a black cat — and you’ll never need a lint brush during bla...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Habitat for Humanity says it plans to buy back mortgages sold to house flipper

Habitat for Humanity says it plans to buy back mortgages sold to house flipper

TAMPA — Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County said Monday that it will seek to immediately buy back 12 mortgages that it had sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping foreclosed houses. The announcement came a day after the Tampa Bay T...
Updated: 9 hours ago