SAFETY HARBOR — Summer camps center on fun, playing games and lots of running around. Just the opposite of an elegant day of pampering at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa.
But on Mother's Day evening, the audience that entered the resort grounds to hear the Florida Orchestra play had relaxation and summer camp on their minds.
That's because a portion of the proceeds from the event were targeted for the Safety Harbor Neighborhood Family Center, which serves people in Safety Harbor, Oldsmar and east Clearwater.
"We honored the mothers with us on Mother's Day with a large brunch," said Tina Napolitano, Safety Harbor Resort and Spa director of sales. "For the children, we had Radio Disney on the lawn and the Florida Orchestra performed for us, as they do annually."
On Friday, the Touloumis family, owners of the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, gave a check for $1,280.50 to help with the Neighborhood Family Center's Bright Ideas Camp and the organization's other children's programs.
The family donates funds to a different cause each year.
"We are pleased to participate for the first time in helping our neighborhood. Good things begin at home," said William Touloumis, speaking on behalf of shareholders, his brothers, George, John and Frank Touloumis and his son, Stathy Touloumis, and the management of the spa.
The donation will come in handy, particularly in these difficult economic times, according to Janet Hooper, executive director of the Neighborhood Family Center.
While this money was earmarked for children's programs, the center's services are under increasing demands because of people losing jobs or getting pay cuts.
"Things have changed," said Hooper. "If there are children in the home and the water and the electric get turned off, the children go to DCF. Nobody wants that."
The financial support of the resort and the surrounding communities is vital to helping families hit hard by the economy, many say.
"We have a great relationship with the city of Safety Harbor," said Mayor Jim Ronecker of Oldsmar. "Mayor (Andy) Steingold and I both try to help the center as much as we can. We're proud to be in communities where the residents and businesses come together to support the center. Because what it's really about is the families and the kids who are in need."
That is especially so in Safety Harbor.
"The Neighborhood Family Center is the only human service organization in Safety Harbor," Hooper said. "We have a large geographical area to serve, including Safety Harbor, Oldsmar and east Clearwater. That also includes a whole group of demographics. We have a lot of families in need."
When Hooper became executive director two years ago, the center's food panty served about 110 families. Today it serves more than 700. In general, last year the center served 9,000 people, up from 3,000 the year before.
While the children don't know it, they also will learn as they play. Mornings start with arts and crafts and the day may end with a squirt gun water fight, but even then, children are learning motor skills. The first five-week summer session is under way. The second runs July 19 through Aug. 20.
And that's not all for the kids.
"Last year, we had an instructor help the kids at Oldsmar Elementary two days a week," Hooper said. "With this donation, next year we'll get to go three days a week. We focus on math, science and reading and offer some life coaching skills.
"Last year, the children truly benefited from the one-on-one time. This money also allows us to give scholarships for camp, purchase more equipment and take kids who wouldn't otherwise be able to go, on field trips to swimming pools."