Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

United Way builds a bridge for minority professionals

TAMPA

Teachers around the county prepared for the return of school by sprucing up their classrooms and splashing bulletin boards with decorative designs.

None of their bulletin boards, however, holds more beauty than the bulletin board at the Sulphur Springs Resource Center.

Oh, they may be more eye-catching, festooned with construction paper, glittery letters and happy characters. With bold action words, they probably do a better job at sparking a student's imagination.

The beauty of the Sulphur Springs Resource Center bulletin board comes not from an artful design, however.

It comes from hope.

Adults who received GED lessons at the center returned after passing the high school equivalency exam and pinned copies of their newly minted diplomas on the bulletin board. Every inch is covered with a pride some may not fully comprehend.

Those diplomas, so much more than just paper, represent a step in the right direction, a foot in the door, the start of a better life. Simple black letters on a white piece of paper showcase a vibrancy that says lives can be revived.

Manager James Jackson, a Durant High and Florida A&M graduate, spoke of the tremendous strides the center has achieved. In his five years at the center, it has gone from serving 50 residents a month to more than 700. It not only preps residents for the GED, but provides a business center, financial literacy programs, legal assistance and employability training and career readiness services.

The center, funded by the United Way Suncoast, comprises just part of an effort to reshape the community. Other partners include the Tampa Metro YMCA, the Hillsborough County School District, Bay Area Legal Services, the Sulphur Springs Alliance, the Devereux Foundation, Community Stepping Stones, Layla's House and others.

Of course, Sulphur Springs residents are the most important partner. With them on board, everybody is pulling in the same direction.

"We want to make Sulphur Springs a neighborhood of choice," said Jackson, whom residents call "Mr. James."

Now Jackson and the United Way want to bring more professionals, particularly minority professionals, to the center.

Many of the young adults who seek careers — not just jobs — need professional mentoring. They need to know that an odd email address can turn off prospective employers. They need tips on how to dress, how to interview and how to highlight skills on a resume.

"They see Oprah and Beyoncé on television, but . . . they want to see real people, people they can touch," said Paula Kay, United Way community manager.

Much has been written and said about the challenges facing the black community. I'm convinced many successful minorities want to help but don't know how to connect with areas like Sulphur Springs.

The solution is to build a bridge between the professionals and the community.

Bridges is a year-old effort by United Way to connect more minority professionals with its social efforts. It has 90 members who have made a financial commitment, but program manager Cassandra Montes will tell you it is about time, talent and treasure.

"The response to Bridges has been overwhelming," Montes said. "For so many professionals to join us in such a short time shows me there's a pent-up desire to help in the minority community.

"Because Bridges covers four counties and the need is great, we always need more professionals."

To learn more about Bridges, call Montes at (813) 274-0944 or email cmontes@uwsuncoast.org.

We can talk about helping. We can make donations, but perhaps the best way to help is by personally engaging with people who long for someone to show them the path to a better life — actually, a more beautiful life.

That's all I'm saying.

United Way builds a bridge for minority professionals 08/14/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 1:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Plan your weekend Aug. 18-20: Elvis in concert, Jason Aldean, Monster Jam Triple Threat, Sing-Along Grease

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    The king

    Elvis: Live in Concert: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and Ruth Eckerd Hall will have a Graceland-produced Elvis concert on a movie screen, accompanied by a full live orchestra. Graceland calls it the closest audiences …

    Handout photos of Elvis: Live in Concert, a tour spectacle featuring a live orchestra backing the voice of Elvis Presley, projected onto a movie screen. The tour comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on 8/18/17. Credit: Graceland.
  2. Woman convicted in murder of 18-year-old with cerebral palsy gets lighter term

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Linda Bonck, a 90-pound Chamberlain High School senior with cerebral palsy, lived near Tampa's Lowry Park. She struggled to walk and talk but was known for being friendly and trusting of strangers until she vanished one day in 1992.

    Georgia Miller, 39, was convicted for the 1992 murder of Linda Bonck, an 18-year-old Chamberlain High School student who had cerebral palsy. Originally sentenced to life in prison, Miller was resentenced Wednesday to 65 years, the result of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that found it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life. With gain time, Miller will be released from prison in the next six years. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  3. Boynton Beach woman arrested on DUI, child abuse charges

    Criminal

    A Boynton Beach woman was arrested Saturday and faces DUI and child abuse charges after she blew a .200 on a breath test with an unbuckled child in the backseat, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

    Brandy Lerma, 31 of Boynton Beach, was arrested on DUI and child abuse charges on Saturday. [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?

    Editorials

    The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the …

  5. Former WTSP employee sues station's parent companies for gender discrimination

    Civil

    A former director at WTSP-Ch. 10 has sued the station's parent companies, claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination.