On January 6, Christopher King, the grandson of Blues legend B.B. King, held a 1920s-style Gentlemen’s Ball fundraiser for his organization, The Gentlemen’s Course, in the historic Fort Harrison in Clearwater, Florida. The Gentlemen’s Course, an organization specializing in etiquette, teaches kids and adults how to handle everyday situations in a respectful and courteous manner. Being respectful to others includes respecting them as human beings.
In 2017, there were 329 cases of human beings being treated like property in Florida; human trafficking statistics in Florida rank it 3rd worst in the United States. During the black-tie evening, King spoke out against human rights violations. “Human trafficking is a growing issue in today’s world and the way we will truly solve it is by educating our youth so they can become valuable advocates for tolerance and peace.”
Several Tampa Bay nonprofits were acknowledged for their work in the human rights arena and presented with United for Human Rights educators’ guides to assist them in spreading awareness in their own areas. Recipients included Men of Vision, Tampa Bay Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., Safe and Sound Hillsborough and Agape Career Counseling Group.
King was introduced to the United for Human Rights program at a luncheon for the Tampa Bay Charity Coalition, an association that holds bimonthly meetings, hosted by the Church of Scientology since 2014. King decided to partner with United for Human Rights and incorporate its program for young people, Youth for Human Rights, into The Gentlemen’s Course. Since beginning the partnership, King has delivered human rights education to youth in libraries, clubs and schools around Tampa Bay and continues to do so today. “I truly feel that if people can teach racism and evil, we can teach greatness and humanity,” said King.
Housing HopeFewer Homeless are Homeless
The number of homeless people in Florida since 2013 has been on a steady decline. According to the 2017 report by Florida’s Council on Homelessness, in the last five years the total state homeless population decreased from 47,862 to 32,109. Pinellas County, which has the highest concentration of homeless individuals in Florida, has been on a downtrend, moving from 3,913 homeless to 2,831 in 5 years.
“The 2017 report shows that Florida’s rate of homelessness continues to decline,” said Shannon Nazworth, chairperson of Florida’s Council on Homelessness. “This is due to an improving economy, increasing use of best practices and enhancing capacity at the local level, and an increase in the supply of housing serving homeless and special needs households.
“Unfortunately, there are still thousands of Floridians without a home,” Nazworth said. “But, Florida’s success to date demonstrates that homelessness is not an intractable issue; with targeted efforts we can significantly reduce the number of Floridians without a home.” She concluded: “There is no doubt that effective private and public collaborations at the state and local levels, combined with strong community participation, are key to solving homelessness.”
Nonprofit needsNo Office is No Good
According to a recent survey done on nonprofit organizations in the Tampa Bay area, 56 percent responded they do not have an office to work out of and are forced to work from their own homes. Sixty-eight percent of organizations surveyed were interested in using a charity co-work space free of charge.
Nonprofit surveyVisibility is Key
“What issues are you interested in learning about for your nonprofit or community organization?” was the question posed to Tampa Bay charities in an online survey conducted in early 2018. Eighty percent responded that “Increasing the visibility of my organization in the community” was the key to advancing the organizations’ goals. “Fundraising” and “recruiting volunteers” came in at 56 percent and 36 percent concern rates with those surveyed. Other areas of interest in descending order included programs to improve the community, executing and organizing events, organization establishment and training volunteers.
Helping YouthReal Heroes: Stopping Abuse Through Education
The 2018 Drug-Free World “Heroes Awards” were presented April 14, at the Fort Harrison. Opening remarks were given by executive directors Calvina Fay of Drug Free America Foundation, and Stephanie Klimke of the Florida Chapter of Foundation for a Drug-Free World. Honored were the Rev. Jonathan Wade of A Spiritual Change, Inc.; retired New York State Trooper Thomas Winterstein; local community activist Teresa Miller, Doral Police Officer Noel Feliciano; and Ormond Beach Police Officer Jay Brennan (on the photo).
Two hundred people, representing 45 separate organizations, gathered in celebration and honor at the historic Fort Harrison, Wednesday, April 18, for the Tampa Bay Charity Coalition’s annual Volunteer Recognition Awards Dinner. After enjoying a sumptuous buffet-style dinner prepared by the Fort Harrison’s five-star chefs, Church of Scientology Community Affairs Director Dylan Pires welcomed the guests by recounting the history of “National Volunteer Week” (established in 1974 in the United States) and remarking how it has since been endorsed by presidents, governors and mayors. Then, in a spirit of community, with a wellspring of volunteerism washing over the crowd, amid excited applause, volunteers nominated for their outstanding service strolled to the stage; each was presented with a gold pin and certificate of commendation. Over 40 volunteers were so acknowledged.
Following a rapturous evening of awards, the crowd was serenaded by the Flag Band. “What a surprise!” one volunteer awardee said. “I’m honored to be acknowledged. I didn’t expect it. But thank you so much.”
Study ResultsMore Community, Less Crime
According to a study titled “Community and the Crime Decline: The Causal Effect of Local Non-Profits on Violent Crime” published in October 2017, more nonprofits mean fewer crimes. The study summarized its findings, stating, “Drawing on a panel of 264 cities spanning more than 20 years, we estimate that every 10 additional organizations focusing on crime and community life in a city with 100,000 residents leads to a 9 percent reduction in the murder rate, a 6 percent reduction in the violent crime rate and a 4 percent reduction in the property crime rate.”
Party TimeA Celebration of Spring
On April 7, the Church of Scientology held its eighth quarterly Spring Block Party in Downtown Clearwater. By 5 p.m. the live band was in full swing. Food trucks and local restaurants with table setups provided attendees with a variety of foods and flavors, courtesy of the Church of Scientology. A side street was lined with carnival games, a petting zoo, train and pony rides, and a big colorful bouncy house that kept lively kids jumping. Here more than a dozen nonprofit organizations, ranging from caregivers and Boy Scouts to OneBlood’s red bus and the Veteran’s Health Network, came from across Tampa Bay to spread the good news about their work.
“I’m all about community,” said Christine Hanlon, executive director of Kindness in Doing Service (KIDS) Campaign, a nonprofit that helps pediatric cancer families. “This is good for the community. I think it’s important that we reach out and help one another.”