12/14/14 Human Interest
In an effort to add to the holidays, I bring glad tidings to …
… all the folks who will step up for Toys for Tots, including Tatyana Frost and Bob Savage, and Herb and Jan Donica.
For the third consecutive year, Frost and Savage co-produced the Brandon Holiday Charity Ball that netted toys and raised money for the U.S. Marine Corps' annual Christmas effort.
Meanwhile, the Donicas opened up their Davis Islands home for a Toys for Tots party for the 15th consecutive year....
The way Mary Jo Keeth sees it, all parents want their children to go to college, learn a trade or develop a career.
From her perspective, they all want their sons and daughters to meet that special someone, fall in love and begin to build a new life with that spouse.
"They don't want their kid moving back in with them when they turn 35," Keeth reasons.
So Keeth and her husband, Brian, share the same goals for the puppies they raise for Southeastern Guide Dogs. Raise them, train them and then send them off to Southeastern, a sort of "Doggie U.," where they can complete the training to become service dogs....
12/07/14 Human Interest
The face of the "little brother" lit up when his "Big" pulled into the driveway.
In the scene, I recognized the current rancor over police shootings and riots and race won't change if we label it as a black problem or a white problem.
It's an American problem, and only a collective effort from all who care will make a true difference. The most problematic areas of our country are as much a part of our nation as amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties....
RIVERVIEW — Earl Lennard told the audience at Tuesday's monthly meeting of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce that when he stepped in as interim executive director he received a call of support from longtime resident Dick Stowers.
Based on the 160 people at the luncheon, Stowers wasn't the only one. When chamber chairman Michael Matthews introduced Lennard, the former Hillsborough supervisor of elections and former school district superintendent received a standing ovation....
11/30/14 Human Interest
The day after violent unrest erupted in Ferguson, Mo., last week, five Tampa Police Department officers showed up in Sulphur Springs — not in riot gear, not in armored vehicles, not even in patrol cars.
They arrived on bicycles at Community Stepping Stones, a nonprofit organization that uses art to impact the lives of children in the impoverished neighborhood.
"It's certainly friendlier than a patrol car," said Community Stepping Stones executive director Sigrid Tidmore. "I think the mayor (Bob Buckhorn) and Chief Jane Castor are to be commended for this idea."...
11/28/14 Human Interest
After wading through a mile-long line of traffic and conducting a parking space search that resembles the quest for the Holy Grail, we will wait for the tram for 20 minutes and then realize we're not at Disney, we didn't park in Ursula 98 — we're just at the mall.
We'll endure the crush of people, bump and grind through eager shoppers looking for that perfect gift — I'm certain my wife will love the new Ronco Ready Grill — and then solicit the help of a store attendant hoping to get the same kind of friendly service that once served as a hallmark of this nation....
11/23/14 Human Interest
Redlands Christian Migrant Association executive director Barbara Mainster tells the story of a young migrant girl who had only one wish: She wanted her father to come home and take her to the convenience story for Cheetos and a soda.
But her father isn't coming home. Deported for driving without a license, he's one of the many undocumented immigrants separated from his family. RCMA welcomed President Barack Obama's decision last week by launching an immigration assistance program to help migrant workers with the new rules and help them avoid scam artists....
11/21/14 Human Interest
The moment seemingly called for a mother to comfort her daughter.
But as Circuit Judge Katherine Essrig finalized Valeishia Mays' adoption of 17-year-old Audris, it was Audris who had to comfort Valeishia as she quietly wept during the proceedings Friday.
"When I saw Audris comfort her, I almost lost it," Essrig said.
Asked if she expected her mother to be so emotional, Audris nodded with quiet confidence....
11/20/14 Human Interest
WESLEY CHAPEL — Amy Christine Parker sat in the car line at her daughters' school when the news arrived in an email.
Where else would a Wesley Chapel stay-at-a-home mother receive word about her long-held dreams?
Just before 4 p.m. on that unforgettable day in 2012, Parker's literary agent called and told her to check her email. Publishers had bid on her first novel, a young-adult tale about a teenage girl trapped in a cultlike community with an abusive leader preparing for a doomsday end of the world....
11/16/14 Human Interest
Sometimes crazy ideas leap from my mind and can't be contained. Even when they should.
What if the next transportation initiative includes multiple counties and funding for a new Rays stadium? Yes, it could draw even more opposition from people opposed to public financing of stadiums, but it also could draw baseball fans to the ballot who otherwise would sit out.
Yeah, crazy. Not so crazy: some kind of transportation initiative returning to the Pinellas ballot in 2016. It's still a problem in need of a solution, and a movement in need of an effective strategy. …...
Nikki Ross-Inda likes to carry around a plastic container full of thick, brownish liquid.
A child might mistake it for Aunt Jemima syrup, but Ross-Inda intends to make sure kids understand the "jar of tar" — the approximate amount of tar that passes through a smoker's lungs each year from smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day — represents one of the 4,000 chemicals contained in cigarettes. Sixty of those chemicals are known to cause cancer....
11/09/14 Human Interest
With six weeks remaining as a high school senior, Kionne McGhee had a 1.9 grade point average. School officials labeled him emotionally handicapped and suspended him 20 times.
Now, he's not only a lawyer and college professor, he's State Rep. Kionne McGhee.
McGhee, 36, brings his story to Hillsborough Community College's fourth Hope Scholars Summit on Friday. They couldn't have chosen a more inspiring speaker. For details, call (813) 253-7851. …...
11/09/14 Human Interest
TAMPA — It's less than a week before his 85th birthday, but the spry bounce in James Hammond's walk and the ease of his smile belie his years.
The youthful aura reflects his enthusiasm about the latest chapter in a book of service the longtime civil rights activist has authored throughout his life.
"I'm a vegan," Hammond said. "I've been a vegetarian for 30 years and a vegan for seven years. I had a portobello sandwich for lunch. I eat vegetables, fruits, nuts. I don't get sick. I stay healthy and I feel fabulous."...
When Michael Matthews was elevated to chairman of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce last month, he received more than 90 emails — many laced with negative rumors and innuendos about the group's future.
"That's counterproductive," Matthews told chamber members during a monthly luncheon Tuesday. "That's not how the community will rebuild this chamber.
"Success is not going to be built in back rooms or through gossip on the phone and emails."...
11/02/14 Human Interest
Zach Bonner is at it again.
The inspirational Bonner, who founded his Little Red Wagon Foundation when he was still small enough to sit in a wagon, is now 16 and still on a mission to help homeless children and do good in the world.
On Friday, Zach will aim to set a Guinness World Record for most canned goods collected in a 24-hour period at the Metropolitan Ministries tent at 400 W Palm Ave. in Tampa He will begin at noon and work to double the current record of 560,000 pounds by noon Saturday....