BY FRANK DROUZAS
ST. PETERSBURG — A proud grandmother herself, Lynda Shorter is happy to give back to the community through her organization Gramps Raising Grands, which is designed to lend a helping hand to St. Petersburg grandparents that are raising their grandchildren.
Gramps Raising Grands will participate in the MLK Day of Service program “Bridging the Gap,” which will include 25 grandparents, approximately 50 grandchildren and 25-30 volunteers.
“An estimated 100 individuals will be a part of the ‘Bridging the Gap’ program,” Shorter said. “The far-reaching goal is to enhance the lives of grandparents that are the permanent caregivers of their grandchildren.”
There will be workshops at a local community center, to be announced, where members of the program will provide a luncheon. They will also distribute useful items along with a resource directory to all grandparents on hand.
The mission of Gramps Raising Grands is to focus on the areas of personal health, finance, legal issues, needed resources and the importance of communicating effectively to a third generation.
“These goals can help to provide grandparents and their grandchildren with opportunities for more stability, security, guidance, support and success,” she explained.
Shorter feels that she didn’t choose the day of service project so much as it chose her.
“This is my chosen life. It is my commitment to help other grandparents like myself, where help is needed. After I turned 50 I realized that I am now starting to live my passion and my purposes in this life—and loving it!”
Shorter was a full-time graduate student at Walden University while raising her granddaughter Azariah, and has just published her first children’s book entitled “Black Inventions: Our Children’s Guide through American History.” Understandably, her plate had been full for some time.
“Now it’s time to give back,” she said, “to serve within my community as I have always done in the cities in which I lived.”
Though born and raised in St. Pete, Shorter has lived in Atlanta, Daytona Beach and Long Beach, Calif. before moving back to her hometown two years ago. Some of her community services in these various locations have included mentoring children with incarcerated parents, serving Meals on Wheels on a weekly basis and serving the homeless.
She has also played an active role in coordinating MLK city festivals and programs, and her admiration for Dr. King is apparent.
“There are so many things that I admire about Dr. King and his philosophy,” Shorter said. “He did not live in fear. Awesome orator. Had a dream. Had an awesome team and a great wife by his side. Loved his people. Stood for what was right. My list goes on. This is the first time that we are going to be a part of the MLK Day of Service in the city of St. Pete, and I am so thankful to be able to serve and give back. To be a part of what Dr. King stood for, be a part of his legacy. Just thankful.”
For more information, please call (727) 378-2075 or email questions to email@example.com
Lynda Shorter reads to granddaughter Azariah.
By Holly Kestenis
St. Petersburg – The First Annual Fall Festival got underway last Sat., Nov. 23, and it was a big hit with families across the city. About 1,500 people showed up in the parking lot of the Coquina Key Plaza, the 112,893 square-foot shopping center located at 4350 6th St. S., to partake in some free entertainment, and of course, a free turkey to roast for their Thanksgiving Day dinner.
“They were some big ole’ turkeys,” said event coordinator Jeff Copeland when speaking about the roughly 22 pound birds he helped hand out to needy families. “We had to carry them to the car for most ladies because they were so big.”
With kids running around enjoying the temporary carnival complete with a rock wall, a mechanical bull, pony rides and bouncy houses, the festival was definitely a hit with those under 12.
But what does that have to do with a free turkey giveaway? Copeland explained the idea was to give local families a chance to unwind and take a few hours off of their financial and personal problems that tend to plague them at this time of the year. Not just show up, grab a free turkey and go.
“We didn’t want to make it seem like we were just giving out food to people who needed food,” Copeland explained. “We wanted to give them an experience when they came out.”
A motorcycle contest was also held with a trophy and $250 cash prize going to the coolest customized bike and the coolest street ride at the festival.
The point? To bring a new experience to the Southside residents, especially the children, and give them a look into a culture they may not otherwise experience.
With free refreshments to quench thirsts in the afternoon heat and a myriad of other events, such as a raffle that produced winners of two 32-inch flat screen television sets, the Fall Festival was also a hit among the older crowd as well.
“People and kids were everywhere,” said Copeland who got together with the Southside Lawyer, James Flynn and Blake Larocca of Larocca Injury Centers here in St. Petersburg. Active in the Clearwater area putting on similar events, both Flynn and Larocca joined forces with Copeland to bring their generosity home to St. Pete where they all have area businesses.
Copeland also spoke with Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman whose campaign pledge of “One town, one voice” fit in with what the trio was trying to accomplish with the Fall Festival. Kriseman promised his support and helped out the local community by showing up with his son to pass out turkeys and participate in some of the events.
“The mayor did an awesome job as far as being part of our community,” said Copeland who was happy to see Kriseman’s son having fun along with the other children at the festival. He “didn’t just do a cameo and walk around and say, ‘Hi, I’m the mayor.’ He actually stayed the rest of the day with us [and] gave out just as many turkeys as anyone else did.”
By Allen A. Buchanan
ST. PETERSBURG — A majestic array of kaleidoscopic colors twirled, leaped and glided across the Grande Theatre at Gibbs High School during its annual Fall Dance Concert Wed., Nov. 13.
Performed by the dance students of Pinellas County Center for the Arts Dance Program and choreographed by Suzanne Pomerantzeff and Patricia Paige, Part One of the production was an excerpt from the classical ballet masterpiece “Le Corsaire” loosely based on the poem “The Corsair” by Lord Byron.
The story centers on a male pirate who loses the love of his life to a slave trader. When the two star-crossed lovers reunite, a ferocious storm at sea leaves them shipwrecked and the pirate dies.
Part Two of the performance featured an array of different dance styles from classical ballet to hip-hop and modern dance, to even clogging.
The breathtaking performance exhibited the skills of some of the most promising future professional dancers in the bay area. Freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior dance students of the Pinellas County Center for the Arts dance program displayed their talents to a delighted audience of parents, friends and well-wishers.
ST. PETERSBURG – “I don’t have a life of my own because I’m so busy providing for another family.” That’s how Etta Tucker sums up the challenge she has in providing for her daughter and grandchildren as cuts to their food stamp allotment become deeper.
Tucker retired as a nurse after 38 years, and her daughter is a single parent who is unable to work. The oldest child is a 13-year-old grandson, and her granddaughters are seven and 10 respectively.
She was just one of more than a dozen participants who came to the Enoch Davis Center last Tues., Nov. 19 in the final installment of the 2013 Family Town Hall Series sponsored by For The Family, Inc.
Other supporters included the St. Petersburg, Clearwater-Dunedin and, Hillsborough chapters of the NAACP, AARP, the Pinellas-Pasco and West Central Florida Area Agencies on Aging Seniors In Service and the Family Enrichment Center.
For The Family, Inc. Administrator Ward Cox is pleased by the results. “I’m so happy that we could let the community know what vulnerable people are going through, because knowledge is the first step in changing situations that nobody deserves. We’ll be able to do even more once the series resumes next spring.”
Meanwhile, Tucker recounted how she spends thousands of dollars each year so that her extended family can make ends meet.
“There are so many things that they need; everything from transportation to clothes to utilities. You’d think that there’d at least be enough for the basics, but it’s nowhere near,” Tucker said.
She is also deeply involved in making the community more responsive to serving vulnerable people wherever she can. For example, when Roy Cook talked about how he fell between the cracks when it came to having enough to eat after becoming ill and homebound, Tucker thought about how she could get the local Nurses Association to help prevent that kind of problem for other people.
Cook described how he was sick for two weeks and temporarily unable to participate in the Neighborly Care Network nutrition program at Enoch Davis. The former Marine and Vietnam veteran counted on Meals On Wheels to fill that gap, but its 21 day waiting list kept that from happening.
“I was lucky to have some military rations and good friends, but it was really tough. When my home health nurse asked if I needed anything, I said a burger would be real nice,” Cook said.
His fellow congregation members from Bethel Community Baptist Church eventually came to the rescue after some seriously anxious moments. Meanwhile, Cook totally lost his $16 monthly food stamp allotment in November, which stretches his monthly Social Security check even tighter.
“It won’t keep me from getting my van going sooner or later. Then I’ll be able to do odd jobs and volunteer for Meals On Wheels,” he stated.
Carrie Heard is another person who is having trouble surviving on her monthly disability payments in the wake of food stamp cuts. The 72-year-old retiree needs cataract surgery and has other health issues. She also relies on the nutrition program at Enoch Davis, and asks “is there anyone who really cares about seniors in the USA?”
Alma Kicklighter is certainly one senior who cares about others. She founded GHETTREAL Community Services so that south Pinellas residents could be easily tested for HIV and AIDS. She has funded the agency out of her own pocket ever since its state grant was not renewed in 2008.
“With the increased number of positive tests we’re having, folks don’t know the facts. I do it to save lives through prevention,” Kicklighter explained.
The state grant was based on GHETTREAL testing about 300 residents a year, but it tested 731 people in both 2011 and 2012. Kicklighter said the 2013 figure will be even higher.
Her agency also facilitates counseling and follow-up medical care when needed. The Rock of Jesus Missionary Baptist Church furnishes a rent-free office (though Kicklighter pays all utilities and security costs), and the state provides education and testing materials (though no funding).
One fact that the Family Town Hall Series abundantly demonstrates is that personal vulnerability is not just tied to income, but to unpredictable circumstances that can happen to most people at a moment’s notice. The same situation exists for agencies that serve vulnerable people.
To learn more about how your voice can be heard as the Series resumes in 2014, contact For The Family at (813) 653-5239 or at Alfolk@aol.com. Her agency also facilitates counseling and follow-up medical care when needed. The Rock of Jesus Missionary Baptist Church furnishes a rent-free office (though Kicklighter pays all utilities and security costs), and the state provides education and testing materials (though no funding).
One fact that the Family Town Hall Series abundantly demonstrates is that personal vulnerability is not just tied to income, but to unpredictable circumstances that can happen to most people at a moment’s notice. The same situation exists for agencies that serve vulnerable people.
To learn more about how your voice can be heard as the Series resumes in 2014, contact For The Family at (813) 653-5239 or at Alfolk@aol.com
ST. PETERSBURG — The Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) elected Lisa Wheeler-Brown president of the St. Petersburg umbrella organization for neighborhood associations Nov. 20.
At the Wednesday night meeting, there was overwhelming support for Wheeler-Brown and her slate of candidates.
“As president of CONA, it is my desire to get CONA back to its mission statement. I intend to do this by focusing on uniting the neighborhoods, bringing more awareness to public safety, promoting communication and creating working relationships with the police department and our local government,” said Wheeler-Brown.
She went on to explain how there has been a huge divide in CONA and how she plans to work on breaking down those barriers so that the organization can focus and work together towards one common goal: uniting St Petersburg, north, south, east and west.
“This is not an impossible task for CONA to accomplish. It is important to understand that each neighborhood has a different need, some more than others. If the neighborhood associations unite together to make CONA stronger, it can once again be that advocate for all of the neighborhoods in the city of St Petersburg,” she continued.
Wheeler-Brown currently serves as the president of Wildwood Neighborhood Association, chair of the Public Safety for CONA and has been involved with the organization for three years.
She is also a gun violence prevention advocate and has heightened the sensitivity for crime victims’ needs for justice, raised the awareness on the lasting effects of violence in the community, launched a campaign against the community’s code of silence (the “no snitching rule” that hampered police investigations) and worked for justice in her son’s murder case.
The other members of the team elected by acclamation are Mike Gulley (first vice president), Ali Montsho, (second vice president), Faye Jackson (treasurer) and Judy Landon (secretary).
CONA is committed to maintaining its stature as a leading community organization for building a safe, high quality and seamless city in order to meet the current and future needs of our diverse community. The vital role CONA plays in strengthening and advocating for neighborhoods through our many initiatives and activities contributes to a city of neighborhoods offering quality of life, and embracing mutual respect and appreciation among all peoples.
For more information, contact Lisa Wheeler Brown (727) 565-7756, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.conastpete.org
46 Years of Service to the Tampa Bay Area
© 2012 All Rights Reserved by The Weekly Challenger and Elisa L. Sanders.
This site was created by Elisa L. Sanders.
BY HOLLY KESTENIS
ST. PETERSBURG – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King holiday to serve their neighbors and communities, and St. Petersburg is no different.
The 2014 MLK Day of Service is around the corner, and last Fri., Nov. 15 checks were given out to those willing to make the holiday “A Day On, Not a Day Off.”
“The purpose is to encourage the community to step up and serve someone in need,” said 2014 Day of Service Project Manager James Robinson. Award recipients joined together at St. Petersburg College (SPC) Allstate Center, located at 3200 34th St. S., last Friday to receive the state funded money.
“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve,” continued Robinson quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
But the holiday celebrated once a year on the third Monday in January was just a day off for most folks. Some called for it to mean more. It all started in August of 1994 when President Bill Clinton signed into law federal legislation proclaiming MLK Day as a day to honor King’s legacy of serving the community, by promoting the same spirit of volunteerism he projected, in the states across America.
Philadelphia took it seriously and now has the largest number of active projects and volunteer base in the nation with over 115,000 people volunteering throughout the region last year in some 1,600 service projects.
But what about St. Petersburg? State Representative Darryl Rouson had his own vision a few years back after speaking at a drug treatment center following the city-sponsored MLK parade. What if the city got more involved in more than just the parade? What if the day could end more beautiful than when it began? So he petitioned the state for money. Thousands of dollars later schools, clubs, neighborhoods, churches and other community organizations were reaping the benefits of a day’s hard work.
Last year Happy Workers, a local childcare center, among others benefited from the service dollars, using it to renovate the King building on their campus. A facility they promised would bring the community together. This year, 64 projects were approved addressing education, health, support for the downtrodden in the city and even for community gardens.
“We’re going to bring kids that are going to actually plant vegetables in a garden,” said Pinellas County Urban League President and CEO Watson Haynes II of his project with the Sojourner Truth Center. “It’s a day of service for them, but it’s a long continuous relationship because the garden doesn’t grow in a day.”
Due to last year’s success as a pilot program for the state, funds were increased and allocated to neighboring counties. This year $200,000 in monies was awarded to project goers with individual projects raking in between $600 and $4,500.
MLK Day of Service team:
L-R sitting: Laurie Suitt, Gwendlynn Hicks,
Shameka Jones, Brooke Taylor. L-R standing: Deborah Boyle, Linda Hogans,
Terri Murph, Darryl Rouson, James Robinson and Leila Wilson.
ST. PETERSBURG — Early this week, the co-chairs of Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman’s transition team – Andrew Hayes and Dr. Yvonne ScruggsLeftwich – released the full list of transition team members. The group will operate through January 2, 2014, when Kriseman will be inaugurated, to help firmly establish his policy priorities for the years to come.
In keeping with Kriseman’s campaign commitments, the transition team has strong representation from all corners of the city, including the south side.
The group met for the first time last night at St. Petersburg College’s downtown campus.
A release by Kriseman’s interim communication director Ben Kirby notes that “The efforts of the cochairs are part of an internal planning process which will produce data and observations about existing conditions of St. Petersburg’s governing structure. They have confirmed the availability of a number of talented citizens, from which the Kriseman will then expeditiously receive and assess recommendations presented to him in the appropriate public forum and with full transparency, as required by Sunshine mandates.”
BY FRANK DROUZAS
ST. PETERSBURG — Though it was a beautifully bright fall morning at Williams Park in downtown St. Pete, the small crowd gathered there was more concerned about talking nuclear energy than taking in sunshine.
With placards and signs stating messages like “We Want a Refund,” citizens called on Governor Rick Scott to take an active role in lobbying to repeal a utility tax that charges consumers for nuclear energy they will not receive.
“I’m surrounded by Duke Energy customers who will see our utility bills go up by as much as $9 per month beginning in January,” said City Councilmember-elect Darden Rice, who was on hand at the Nov. 18 gathering.
“Part of that increase is to pay $3.2 billion for nuclear energy projects that aren’t producing a single kilowatt of electricity and probably never will,” Rice said referencing the now-defunct Crystal River nuclear plant and the canceled Levy County project.
Rice was flanked by members of Florida For All, an organization with over 60,000 members which she said fights for “Florida’s middle class, our seniors and our children.”
Rice claimed the nuclear tax is hurting the competitiveness of local small businesses in two ways. “Number one, small businesses should not have to subsidize a large corporation like Duke Energy. Secondly, the higher rate the Tampa Bay area pays to Duke Energy makes this area less attractive to businesses and economic development. And these businesses will factor in higher utility costs when they decide to locate here.”
Challenging Gov. Scott’s claim that he wants to make Florida a low-cost place to do business, Rice stated that the increase “puts St. Pete citizens and Tampa Bay businesses specifically at a much bigger economic disadvantage. The city of St. Petersburg pays a total Duke Energy bill of about $10 million. It will go up, and taxpayers will foot the bill. People are sick of it. They are asking when Rick Scott is going to start looking out for Florida’s middle class. Governor, we can’t afford to wait,” implored Rice.
Referencing Duke Energy’s monetary support to Gov. Scott’s campaign as a way of explaining his ostensibly aloof attitude toward the increase that will hurt residents and businesses, Rice said: “It’s interesting to note that Duke/Progress Energy gave $100,000 to Rick Scott’s election campaign last year.”
Also making an appearance at the gathering was State Representative Dwight Dudley. “The crucial issue here is the money that’s coming out of hardworking Floridians’ pockets every month,” Dudley said. “We have to repeal the utility tax. Churches, schools, hospitals are all paying for this utility tax. It’s helping Duke Energy but it’s not helping the people because we’ve received zero power as a result of it.”
“The ratepayers are stuck,” Dudley added, “we’re on the hook and the bills are going to keep rolling in. It’s bad practice to be taking money from consumers who can ill-afford to finance whatever the power companies want to do.”
In the eyes of Rice, Dudley, members of Florida For All and angry local consumers, Gov. Scott has simply failed to stick up for ratepayers. They are calling on him to get bills passed that will stop the utility bailouts and refund ratepayers their money for nuclear energy they paid for, but will not get.
Perhaps gatherings like the one on Monday will be a step in getting the governor’s attention.
State Rep. Dudley speaks at the gathering.
BY FRANK DROUZAS
ST. PETERSBURG — The men of Eta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity marked two historic milestones at its annual Achievement Week Program, held on Sun., Nov. 17 at The Rock of Jesus Baptist Church in St. Pete.
The fraternity honored over 50 outstanding young African-American males hand chosen by their school principals based on their merit in “scholarship and perseverance.” This year marks the largest number of young men honored by Eta Rho.
The selected youths were from the fraternity’s Pathfinders Program and three area high schools: Gibbs, Lakewood and Boca Ciega.
Pinellas County school board member Rene Flowers offered her praise to the exceptional students.
“Today we have an opportunity to honor those individuals, not just because they are African American young men but because they seek to do something with their lives. I know the road hasn’t been easy,” Flowers said. “For the young men that are here today, I am so proud of you.”
Flowers stressed the importance of community involvement in the shaping of all African-American youth, urging members of the community “to make sure that we embrace them, that we cultivate them, that we do not give up on them, and that we make sure that they understand if they’re not loved anywhere else in this world, they’re loved at home.”
The keynote speaker for the event, who was introduced by the fraternity’s regional representative Harry Harvey, was Dr. Michael A. Freeman, the assistant vice president and dean for students at the University of South Florida.
An active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Freeman gave a recipe as advice to the young men, urging them to “establish a strong base by using a healthy dose of friendship. You can’t have too much friendship in the mix.” He also stressed the importance of “equal measures of manhood, scholarship, and perseverance.” in his ‘recipe’ for success.
Freeman went on to exalt illustrious Omega members and their commitment to excellence, going back to the very beginning of the fraternity.
“Each founding member of Omega Psi Phi went to the very top of his profession,” Freeman said. “If we want to advance Omega’s future, we remind every brother he should aspire to reach the top of his profession. I’ve always said and will continue to say, ‘We don’t make men, men make Omega. And extraordinary men make Omega extraordinary.’”
Founded on November 17, 1911, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity is the first international fraternal organization to be established on the campus of a historically black college, Howard University in Washington, D.C.
The long list of famous members includes poet Langston Hughes, pianist and bandleader William “Count” Basie, actor Bill Cosby, comedian Steve Harvey, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, athlete Michael Jordan and civil rights attorney Oliver Hill.
By MARCY PALMERI
TARPON SPRINGS — Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Tarpon Springs’ newest playground was. Over two years and 200 volunteers later, families in Tarpon Springs are going to reap the benefits of caring minds in the community partnered with nonprofits and a large local corporation.
From cutting through red tape to the Nov. 16 ribbon cutting ceremony, Mayor of Tarpon Springs David Archie couldn’t be happier to see the playground become a reality.
“We are excited for the children to have a playground and we’re grateful to be a part of this great community that comes together for the benefit of the kids,” Archie said.
The new creation will be located at the Union Academy Family Center on 401 East Martin Luther King Jr. Drive as the result of a combined effort between KaBOOM!, a national non-profit that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America, Citizens Alliance for Progress (CAP), the Tampa Bay Rays and other volunteers in the community.
Archie traded one of his impeccably tailored suits for a pair of jeans so he could join in on the activities. He said was pleased with the partnership with CAP and warned everyone that they were in for a day of hard work.
Rick Vaughn, Vice President of Communications with the Tampa Bay Rays, said the team has been a big supporter of various community projects in the bay area and their employees play a very active role in the community and are encouraged to spend time volunteering.
“We get to know everyone and have shoulder to shoulder bonding time. We do all of this through ECOT, Employee Community Outreach Team, an umbrella of Kaboom!”
Stuart Sternberg, the principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, implemented this program when he bought the team in 2007, and the team president, owners and their families were all on hand for the playground unveiling.
Statistics say today’s children spend less time playing outside than any previous generation in part because only one in five children live within walking distance of a park or playground. This play deficit is having profound consequences for kids physically, socially and cognitively.
One playground at a time the statistics will change, and with caring, giving people such as those involved in this project, families and their children will become more physically and socially active.
BY JEANIE BLUE
ST. PETERSBURG —This past Veterans Day observance highlighted the contributions of many veterans, but a special honor for courage was finally bestowed to Mr. Willie Nathaniel Rogers when he was recognized as a Tuskegee Airman.
The organization, Tuskegee Airman, Inc. (TAI) presented a Legends and Lineage Certificate of Award to Mr. Rogers during the morning worship service Nov. 10, at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church of which he has been a member for more than 50 years.
For more than 70 years, Mr. Rogers has had to present certified proof of his place in history as a Documented Original Tuskegee Airman (DOTA). Cheryl Henry, CEO for Legend and Lineage and a member of Bethel AME, worked with retired Col. Len Nevels and the Rogers family to obtain the paperwork necessary to verify that he is a DOTA.
Since he did not serve in the armed forces as a pilot, he wasn’t identified as an airman; however, according to TAI, the description of a Tuskegee Airman is anyone man or woman, military or civilian, black or white who served at Tuskegee Army Air Field or in any of the programs stemming from the ‘Tuskegee Experience’ between the years 1941 and 1949.
This description allowed him to be considered a DOTA, and from this point on Mr. Rogers is given the title of DOTA Willie Rogers.
Mr. Rogers, who was born on March 4, 1915 in Apalachicola, Fla., wears the title of being the oldest living Tuskegee Airman. Born during the segregation era, he had to leave high school during his junior year to help support his family financially.
A year later he returned to school and graduated. He went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from Claflin College of Agriculture and Mechanical Institute in Orangeburg, S.C. (now known as Claflin University).
In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces (which became the U.S. Air Force on Sept. 18, 1947), and along with his friends Major Al Downing and comrade Henry Stuart, became a part of the 100th Fighter Squadron.
The first black military pilots of the U.S. segregated armed forces received their wings at Tuskegee Army Air Field on March 7, 1942. This was after they received their training on the air field which was established on July 23, 1941 and began training in November of that same year.
Records of that time indicate that in July of 1941, the war department announced that the 99th Pursuit Squadron was to consist of 33 pilots, 27 planes and 400 enlisted men. In addition, military personnel already being trained at another airfield would complete training and transfer to Tuskegee to act as airplane mechanics, armorers, supply clerks, and weather forecasters.
The Tuskegee squadron went on to establish its impressive combat record when it was deployed in 1943 to French Morocco in North Africa. This lasted until 1945 when World War II officially ended.
During Mr. Rogers early soldier years, he married Josie Brockton, who passed away after 11 years of marriage. Then in 1960 he met and married Reva McDuffie, to which two daughters were born. The family lived in St. Petersburg and he supported them for many years from his employment as an auditor for the Central Life Insurance Company in Tampa.
Rogers then decided to open a business in St. Pete that turned out to be a successful electronic television sales and repair business that operated for 36 years in the downtown area. It was a well-known slogan for many years that if your TV breaks, call Mr. Rogers!
The Weekly Challenger joins with the Rogers’ family, the Bethel AME community and many others in recognizing this honor for Mr. Rogers. We echo what the Legends and Lineage certificate of award states: “In honor of your bravery and dedicated service to our country we hereby recognize Tuskegee Airman WO1 Willie N. Rogers for blazing a trail of excellence for future generations to follow.”
We thank you for your patriotic service as we teach children of your role in the victory of WWII. Thank you DOTA Rogers.
BY MARCY PALMERI
ST. PETERSBURG —This time of month is busy for Larry Casto, Mercedes Benz General Manager for Crown Automotive Group, 6001 34th St. N., but he still finds time out of his schedule to discuss the needs of the community as it pertains to the automotive industry.
The auto industry has changed over the years locally and globally. “It’s more Internet based now than before which is for the better. It’s nice that clients now have the access to competitive and fair pricing. The Internet is now our showroom,” said Casto.
“The price of gas drastically affects large trucks and high gas consuming cars. When the price goes up it devalues the automobiles. As a Mercedes dealer, I’ve noticed a larger surge in diesel cars, whereas other dealerships may have experienced an increase in hybrid sales.”
St. Pete resident Irene Pridgen is impressed both by the salesmanship of Crown Automotive and Casto, himself. She sees him as a friend, not a car dealer.
Casto met Pridgen shortly after the passing of her husband and they have been close friends ever since. She bought her first car from him, a Silver 190E Mercedes, in 1986 when he was working as the general manager for Lokey Motors in Clearwater, and has purchased each of her vehicles from him thereafter.
So impressed with her, he hired Pridgen as a car salesperson a few months later. In 1988, she bought a two seat Silver Mercedes 380 SL, followed by her third car purchase in 1993, a black 450 SL, and the ML 320 Black SUV 1998 all from Larry at Crown Automotive. In 2011 she was hired as an outside salesperson with Crown EuroCars, and bought her nephew a 2012 black two-seater.
Sidetracked by his mutual respect and admiration for his long-time friend, he guides himself back to the topic of the automobile industry.
Casto has seen a small rise of car buyers trading in their larger vehicles when gasoline closes in on $4 a gallon. Consumers shop smarter now that they have access to the Internet and they are more informed.
“Online reviews are what brings people into the dealership. They come to us after they’ve shopped two or three stores and narrowed it down according to the ratings. Google is the number one place to find reviews,” Casto confided.
Like any other product, trends direct consumers to specific features and wants suddenly turn into needs. Many times it’s about aesthetics and comfort, but more importantly, safety.
“Trending now is more safety features. Distronic Plus makes driving in traffic easier. Adaptive cruise control includes lane assist, tracking, blind spot indicators, and ASR (anti-lock braking system and anti-slip regulation) are things to look for. The car will stop itself, if you don’t. If you veer to the left or right due to dosing, it brings you back to the center,” he stated.
Casto described a situation that recently occurred when he and his wife were driving. He made a U-turn as they were headed toward a gas station when his car stopped on its own because people stopped in front of him.
All of these new safety features is a precursor to self-driving cars.
“They are close to that right now. Once a car stops, you can let off the brake and it will follow traffic and keep distance automatically for you,” he said.
People seem to prefer technologically savvy cars that offer hotspots, Wi-Fi and mobile communication. Casto said that the majority of buyers seek that out. “Years ago it was the younger generation, but everyone is like that now. They want iPad plug-ins.”
More technology is in-store for consumers over the next couple of years. “Safer cars, more features. Mercedes is coming out soon with side cameras that see behind and beside you and will stop the car. Smarter cars, passive and active safety ratings are what people need to pay attention to.”
Consumers take heed of the difference between passive and active safety tests. He discussed a brand of car commonly known for their safety rating, and said the “crash dummy” tests are considered passive and are under ideal situations, whereas the best safety features are active which steer you away from the accident to start with. They focus on accident avoidance.
What’s the hottest, most sought after colors in cars these days? “Number one: White; number two: Black and number three: Silver. Now they’ve come out with a pearl white; that’s our number one selling and also number one nationally,” he explained.
If you are in the market for a new car, head on down to Crown Automotive Group, 6001 34th St. N., St. Petersburg, and check out the all new CLA Class Coupe and the S-Class starting at $29,900. You can barely buy a Toyota for those prices.
Or if a two-door car or sports sedan is more your speed give Larry a call and tell him you’d like to test drive the all new C250 Coupe or the E 350 Sport Sedan. Check out the advertisement below, and remember Christmas is right around the corner.
BY HOLLY KESTENIS
ST. PETERSBURG – William C. Scott is a marine, a Montford Point Marine. And when he walked into the St. Petersburg Housing and Community Development office last year, he had no idea that this distinction would open the doors to a rehabbed home and a medal for distinguished service. A medal that has been a long time coming.
Linda Byars was working the day Mr. Scott dropped by to find out if he could get some assistance in repairing his roof. Wearing his red United States Marine Corp cap, he got her attention.
“I think the first thing he said to me was ‘I’m a U.S. Marine,’” Byars said.
When he left, she looked him up and realized he was not only a marine, but part of the original Montford Point Marines, the first black unit of the U.S. Marines Corps. “I did my research,” Byars continued, “and I said, this is history.”
So along with city officials and a whole community of volunteers willing to donate their time and money, she set out to get the necessary paperwork completed so that Mr. Scott, who served in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam, could get his new roof. But when the inspector showed up, it turns out his situation was more dire than what he was letting on.
Not only did the roof need to be repaired, but the entire roof structure. Conditions were so bad that building officials would not allow him to return to his house until the necessary repairs were made.
“We scrambled about and came up with a little money,” Byars said.
With thousands of dollars for repairs either found or donated, volunteers helped move Mr. Scott out of his home back in May so they could fix the dilapidated roof and make other improvements to the home. Mold was eating away at its interior and he had been without running water or electricity.
Daughter Brigette Morton flew in for the special occasion and was delighted at all the attention being thrown her father’s way. A humble man that some close friends would even call ornery, Mr. Scott usually shies away from attention. Preferring instead to serve his community rather than be the main attraction. But at 87, the Montford Marine is learning to let others in and accept assistance.
“He doesn’t like all the accolades,” Morton said speaking of his strong will. “It was amazing to see his level of receptiveness to what everybody was able to do for him because he resists help.”
Although overwhelmed with gratitude, the tears didn’t start flowing until the early Veteran’s Day observance ceremony on Friday was underway across the street from his home at the Wildwood Park baseball field.
BY JEANIE BLUE
ST. PETERSBURG – Supporters as well as former and current clients of Breaking Free By Faith Outreach Ministries, Inc. gathered to celebrate with founders Ernest and Dr. Clarissa Hersey-James the ninth anniversary of the not for profit organization Sat., Nov. 9 at the Enoch Davis Center.
With the need for transitional housing for homeless people with substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues and those being released from jail or prison so great, St. Petersburg is blessed with the Jameses and their ministry.
Established in 2004, Breaking Free provides shelter, transitional, affordable/ permanent housing to help them transition back into society and work toward self-sufficiency.
Standing before the room, Hersey-James was proud to say that she was 27 years free from addiction. She knows firsthand the difficulties of overcoming dependency and abuse, and Breaking Free is a testament to her hard work.
“I have seen you go through much adversity and you broke through,” Bonnie Marshall with Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) said. “Now you’re saving the least, the last and the lost. The Lord gave you the heart to work with this population. Saving the people no one else wants to touch or to talk too. A special and wonderful work.”
Marshall, a former co-worker of Hersey-James at CASA, joined with a chorus line of many others who rose to commend the ministry for their efforts.
With much enthusiasm former client Anthony Ferrentino, who served 20 years in prison and now runs a transitional housing program for ex-offenders, extended his gratitude to Breaking Free for giving him a chance to turn his life around after his release from prison.
“We are salvageable,” Ferrentino stated. “Thank you for helping the ones who are down.”
Executive Director of CASA, Linda Osmundson, expressed how proud she is of her former employee when she said: “I love the fact that Clarissa pushes back and I am proud of where she is today...It’s wonderful to know she’s in the community doing what she does. There’s always enough work to do. Keep it up.”
Keynote speaker Jean Jones spoke of her experiences with Hersey-James when she was as a client in the substance abuse program at Operation PAR. Jones was assigned to her in 1986 and has been a positive influence in her life for almost three decades.
ST. PETERSBURG — African Americans turned out their highest vote count in recorded history during last week’s election, and Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman is already proving true to his campaign trail commitment to renew the city’s focus on development in south St. Petersburg.
The new mayor announced today at a City Hall press conference that he will appoint as Deputy Mayor the eminently qualified Dr. Kanika Tomalin to help lead his new administration – a decision that represents the full thrust of Kriseman’s policy paradigm.
Tomalin, who, for more than a decade, led governmental affairs, policy and planning for the former Bayfront Health System, was considered ideal for the deputy mayor post, not least for her top role in steering Bayfront through its $200 million acquisition by Health Management Associates, the nation’s third-largest investor-owned healthcare company.
Since April of 2013, when the Bayfront-HMA partnership was officially sealed, Tomalin served in multiple capacities for HMA, as Vice President of External Affairs for the Bayfront Health Network, a Health Management system of seven hospitals that stretch 150 miles along Florida’s Gulf Coast and also as Director of Strategy for Health Management’s Florida Group of 23 hospitals statewide.
Prior to joining Health Management Associates, she served as Vice President of Strategic Planning & Public Affairs for Bayfront Health System. In addition to multiple Bayfront leadership roles that span a decade, she worked at the St. Petersburg Times, the Palm Beach Post, WTXL-TV in Tallahassee, WAVE-TV in Louisville, KY and WRXB Radio in St. Petersburg.
Mayor-elect Kriseman said: “Dr. Tomalin has clearly demonstrated her grasp of the dynamics and nuances of large public systems. She is deeply connected to the community and shares my commitment to advancing an agenda of equality, opportunity and innovative solutions to our city’s most pressing issues. We have been fortunate to work together on policy decisions that define quality of life and healthcare in our community. Through these interactions I have come to trust her expertise, dedication and integrity. She will bring those same important qualities to my administration for the benefit of our entire city.”
BY HOLLY KESTENIS
ST. PETERSBURG – Midtown is now set to have its own mark on the national map with the grand opening of Sylvia’s Queen of Soul Food™ this past weekend. Located at 642 22nd St. S., the southern comfort dishes promise to be pleasing to the palette, while that southern hospitality they’re famous for is set to reign queen at the Manhattan Casino.
“This is a momentous day,” exclaimed Tamara Felton-Howard, Vice President and General Counsel for Urban Development Solutions (UDS) at the ribbon cutting ceremony Friday night.
And she was not alone. From elected officials to just plain hungry folks, all were present and all were in awe of the completed project. With its suave modern interior, chocolate-colored wood floors, red cushioned furniture, and even a picture of President Barack Obama from Sylvia’s original location in Harlem, N.Y., everyone in the crowd was all smiles.
“The ability to put this together is something that is very special for us,” said Mayor Bill Foster as he proceeded to cut the ribbon. “This is a destination restaurant that will bring people from all over the area to the Deuces, and what a great addition it is to the historic part of our city.”
It’s definitely an occasion UDS President Larry Newsome has been waiting a long time for. Urban Development Solutions is a nonprofit organization dedicated to redeveloping businesses and housing in low-income areas.
“We’re proud of the work that we’re doing in this community,” he said citing recent projects as creating over 200 jobs in the city. “We know that if we don’t invest in our community, we’ll never make Midtown part of the seamless city that we strive to make it.”
And although the point of opening a successful restaurant in Midtown is to attract customers from around the bay area, District 7 Councilmember Wengay Newton is happy to have a local eatery within walking distance where he can spend time with family and neighborhood friends.
“It’s a great day when you can enjoy a sit down meal where you live,” Newton said. “I think that is big.”
And with delights like smothered chicken, barbeque ribs, yams, and collard greens, being offered up to authentic soul food lovers in the area, the restaurant is set to be a success. The new site is the only one outside Harlem and members of the Woods family, who own both establishments, were jubilant at the opportunity to create lasting memories and an additional home here in the true South.
“We’re very excited about the prospects because we have a real opportunity for people in this city to look at 22nd Street in a whole new way,” Woods’ Family Representative Kenneth Woods explained to the gathered crowd. “We can do this, we can make it happen.”
Woods sees St. Petersburg, especially the Midtown area, as being quite similar to Harlem and a great place to expand their business. But he cautions that part of Sylvia’s success up North is their relationship with the people in their city.
“Harlem is renowned in the black community,” Woods said. “This restaurant will not be successful if you, the community, do not take ownership in it.”
So head on down to Sylvia’s, no matter where you live, and get yourself some Harlem-style fried chicken and waffles, catfish fingers, or some homemade macaroni and cheese. Yes, it’s better than your mama’s. Oh, and don’t forget dessert. There’s plenty of room. With a dining facility designed to seat up to a 150 patrons, you’re sure to find somewhere to sit; although, if this past weekend is any hint as to Sylvia’s business success, you might just want to call ahead and reserve a seat.
The city spent nearly $3 million to renovate the Manhattan Casino almost eight years ago. Earlier this year over a million more was added to the pot by both the city and UDS to make way for the Manhattan Casino’s first floor conversion to Sylvia’s.
“This is something we’ve been waiting for a long time,” expressed Mayor Bill Foster as he spoke of all the hands in the project pulling the rope in the same direction in an effort to make sure Sylvia’s became a reality and not just a dream on some blueprints. “To be here is something I will remember forever.”
After the ribbon was officially cut, hundreds of hungry folks packed Sylvia’s on the first floor and the Manhattan Casino on the second floor for a night of delicious free food and entertainment by the band The Squad and Alex Harris and his protégées from the Arts Conservatory for Teens.
A good time was truly had by all.
In an article in The Weekly Challenger one week prior to the 2013 mayoral election, I posed the question: “Will we be fooled again?” Four years ago I endorsed Bill Foster for mayor after his opponent, who was leading in the polls, made comments the community found offensive. Foster made promises to the African American community he failed to fulfill, implemented regressive policies, and disbanded planning initiatives designed to facilitate Midtown/Childs Park economic development. And, in a disingenuous act of desperation two weeks prior to the 2013 election, shabbily opened a campaign office on 22nd Street South; and promised to address the police pursuit issue and assign a cabinet level appointee to lead an economic development initiative in Midtown.
Exercising their rights in our American democracy, a slate of individuals banded together and formed an African-American coalition for Bill Foster. They were proudly depicted in Foster campaign literature, as well as television and newspaper advertisements. Many have expressed their disappointment and surprise that the coalition worked so hard to support an individual who blatantly ignored and disrespected the African-American community.
I understand the disappointment, but will always defend the coalition’s right to choose. Additionally, I will continue to love and support Midtown, Methodist Town, Childs Park and the courageous men and women who work daily to carry on the legacy of pride, and commitment to overcome politically and economically.
I am proud to be a descendant of hard working common folk, who never forgot from whence they came, and taught me and my siblings to do the same. The 2013 mayor’s race and the Foster coalition have once again awakened and fortified the admonishment of my mother and grandparents to “stay with the people.” As my grandmother would always say: “Degrees don’t make you smart—ain’t no substitute for mother wit and common sense.” The people were not fooled by Foster or the coalition.
I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to remind mayor-elect Kriseman that the Midtown, Childs Park and Methodist Town communities, as well as the entire city now await the fulfillment of the promises he made on the campaign trail. The reality of governing is not always consistent with campaigning. When the inconsistencies arise, speak candidly and truthfully. The people will understand. And keep in mind, the inconsistencies should be the exception rather than the rule.
As always, I want to thank the many people I meet in stores, barber shops, beauty salons, eating establishments and throughout the city for allowing me to serve you and for your continued love and support. Rick Kriseman’s decisive victory is attributable to the fact he won all of the 19 African American voter precincts. We were not fooled.
Goliath J. Davis, III, Ph.D.
BY FRANK DROUZAS
ST. PETERSBURG — Following the success of “Bombs Away at the Bay” back in June, Mad Integrity Fight Sports, in tandem with One Punch Productions, brings us “Bombs Away 2” at the Bayfront Hilton in downtown St. Pete. The Nov. 16 event will once again be heavy with local and out-of-state talent, including hometown kid Clarence “The Truth” Booth in the main event.
Promoter Joey Orduna of Mad Integrity Fight Sports specifically chose to put the event on at Bayfront Hilton because of the surrounding businesses and the “upbeat, trendy vibe” of downtown St Pete.
Orduna, a Seffner resident who works at a finance company, said he got into the boxing promotion business simply because of his love for the sport. “At the time we started the company, there was a drought with no shows for over two years,” Orduna said.
This will be the second time in five months the St. Pete Hilton will host professional boxing. There are even more bouts scheduled this time around featuring some of the same fighters from the first “Bombs Away” event, such as Booth, “the Son of St. Pete.”
Booth scored a decisive win over Juan Aguirre in June to bring his record to an impressive 6-1 with 4 KOs. In that fight that went all six rounds, Booth showed both his dominance and composure against a scrappy Aguirre before taking it with a unanimous decision.
“Booth is an ultra-athletic boxer-puncher who dominates with physical strength and precise punching,” Orudna said of the young fighter who was born and raised in some rough parts of St. Pete.
This time Booth takes on Keuntray Henson, a 29 year old from Memphis, in a six-round welterweight clash.
Also on the card is Amos “2Smooth” Cowart, a rising star who has yet to lose a pro bout as he is 7-0-1. Cowart impressively dispatched his first seven opponents in his pro career, with five of the wins coming by KO. Most recently he took on comer Chazz McDowell at the BB King Blues Club in New York City, where he and McDowell boxed to a 6-round draw.
A puncher with power, Cowart is more than capable of ending a fight early—three of his KOs have come in the first round. Orduna sums up the 23 year old:
“Cowart is a seek-and-destroy type fighter who combines his speed, pressure and power to break down his opponent mentally and physically.” This Sat. he will go up against Jose Valderrama from Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
By Allen A. Buchanan
ST. PETERSBURG — The Next STEPP Life Center (Services to Those Experiencing Pregnancy or Parenting) celebrated its 20th year of community service with an evening of fine cuisine, music, and inspirational stories Nov. 2 at the Manhattan Casino.
Sitting in the middle of one of the most economically challenged parts of the city, Next STEPP offers free and confidential services to anyone dealing with pregnancy and/or parenting related issues.
At the heart of the organization is Executive Director Carole Alexander, who is also celebrating 20 years of service at the center. Her focus is helping women and their families achieve the best possible quality of life in the midst of challenging circumstances. The lifeblood of the center is a staff of well-trained and caring volunteers who give support and practical assistance to those who come through its doors.
The 20th year banquet event was themed “Dwelling in Possibilities” with an emphasis on building strong families – a key element of their services. Pastor Brian K. Brown of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church was the keynote speaker.
The three-course entrée meal was accented with Jazz, testimonials, and a historical look at the center from its beginnings out of a former neighborhood crack house. Carpenters For Christ from Alabama finished rebuilding the facility in approximately two weeks for a cost of $25,000. Today, the center stands as the beacon of hope for women who end up with an unexpected pregnancy.
This non-profit organization depends on churches, civic and social organizations, businesses and individuals to provide the financial and volunteer support needed to operate. The center also holds fundraisers to support its mission such as this annual banquet, which is a major fundraising event.
Mayor Bill Foster was on hand to read a City Proclamation proclaiming November 2, 2013 as Next STEPP Life Center Day.
BY PUNEET SANDHU
ST. PETERSBURG — Below blue streamers and yellow string lights, a diverse array of people gathered at the Coliseum, 535 4th Ave. N., Sat., Nov. 4 for the annual Freedom Fund Gala celebrated by the St. Petersburg chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“The NAACP Freedom Fund Gala is a yearly fundraiser and it’s done at the state, local and national levels,” St. Petersburg NAACP President Manuel Sykes said. “It’s the way our organizations support themselves. It’s also a time to reach out to the communities, get some memberships, give awards and recognize people that stand out in various areas of the community, so it’s a sort of culmination of the year’s work.”
For the St. Petersburg chapter, the event was also a chance for the Mayor Bill Foster to make a proclamation recognizing Nov. 4 as the local NAACP Day.
“There was also a proclamation by Kathy Castor’s office,” Sykes said. “That was presented to us by her representative though, not read.”
According to Sykes, the figure raised by the event will be calculated later this week. The funds will be used for the operation of the St. Petersburg branch of the NAACP, which unlike other branches, is one of the few to have their own office.
The theme for this year’s gala, “We shall not be moved,” comes from a Charley Patton song first recorded in 1929. The song is written in the first person, with the refrain “Like a tree planted by the water, I shall not be moved” being the inspiration for the gala’s theme.
“[The theme] attests to the fact that we are NAACP-ers who have stood together … more than a century in terms of being a living, vibrant opposition to any attempts to practice discrimination, prejudice, inequality, or oppression of any sort,” Sykes explained.
“And that covers economics, education, healthcare, the environment, the legal justice system, voter rights and political systems—every area where black people and other minorities have historically and systemically been kept out of the loop or disenfranchised. We fight and we advocate on multiple levels, whether it be legally, whether it be through marches, whether it be through meetings, whatever we have to do to level the playing field. So that slogan says, ‘we’re not going to stop, we’re not going anywhere,’” stated Sykes.
During the gala, awards were presented to six different African-American churches within the city who have existed for 100 years or more: Bethel African Methodist Episcopal, Bethel Metropolitan, First Baptist Institutional, New Hope Baptist Church, New Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church and McCabe United Methodist Church.
R-Club and Head Start received an award for Economic Development. “That award is for businesses and individuals … that help to create jobs and opportunities for minorities and African American individuals and communities,” Sykes said.
BY HOLLY KESTENIS
ST. PETERSBURG – The Imagine Middle School at St. Petersburg, located at 1950 1st Ave. N., has had its struggles in recent years, but that hasn’t stopped the students in grades 6-8 from striving for excellence.
The staff wasn’t timid about pulling out all the stops to recognize those students demonstrating attributes of good character as well as academic prowess.
Honored students and parents were treated to a piping hot breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, waffles and fresh fruit just to name a few of the menu items. To make the event more special, food was individually served to each student for a day they won’t soon forget.
“When we started out the year we stated that our primary objective is focusing on our academics and character,” said Principal Carolyn Wilson to the honorees and their families. “Think ‘A’ while we strive for 5,” she continued. A slogan she recites to inspire students to improve in their studies and work together to raise the school grade to an A and increase FCAT scores.
The number of children receiving awards could stand some improvement; however, Principal Wilson took pride in the students who were successful in reaching their goals for the first grading period and believes it is the beginning of a new direction in student achievement.
There was one standout student who made Principal’s List (all As) seven made honor roll (As and Bs), and 11 earned Honor Roll of Achievement (a 3.0-3.3 grade point average).
“We would like to enhance this number because you are going to be the model students that will motivate your classmates,” she told the honorees, “so then we are all moving to a degree of academic excellence.”
The guest speaker, District 3 Vice Chair Bill Dudley of the St. Petersburg City Council, spent nearly 38 years in the public school system before making politics his second career. He took a moment to speak to those in attendance about their decisions in life and how what they do now will play a part in opportunities allotted to them in the future.
“Nothing is ever guaranteed,” he said speaking of the rollercoaster ride of life. “The value of education is that it opens up opportunity for you.”
Dudley encouraged students to stay focused and make an effort to remain on the right path for a prominent future. The path that views education as the ticket to an easier existence.
Staying determined was the consistent message being enforced and the students were all ears. “Some people are motivated by what their parents or somebody else may say,” Dudley explained. “Some are motivated by negative things.” He suggested students find that spark that keeps them driven and always striving to be on top.
Certificates from the city and a present consisting of writing utensils and a key chain were awarded to honorees, all wrapped up in a bow. Parents also gave gifts to their students along with inspirational notes to express their joy. Instructional Coach Daren Everage read the parents notes causing a few to blush.
Entertainment was provided by a few students at the school. The Drayton sisters, Keniya and Kenae’ sang an inspirational song and student group “Beat Plus” tapped in rhythm on a table bringing inspiration through their words of poetry.
Principal Wilson is looking to increase the number of students earning awards for educational achievement and character in time for their next banquet. She states that the key to success is to remain focused.
BY JOYCE NANETTE JOHNSON
ST. PETERSBURG — Deanie K. Victor recently returned from her 50th class reunion at the Zion Bible Institute, recently renamed Northpoint Bible College in Providence, R.I. It was a time of remembrance, renewed friendships, and a source of pride and love.
Deanie K’s Beauty Salon has been a mainstay on Martin Luther King Street South since 1974. Her clientele has grown and changed through the years, but it is the atmosphere of warmth, welcome and encouraging words sprinkled with passages from the bible that will never change.
Mrs. Deanie explains that she has a strong relationship with God and that it was nurtured through her attendance at Zion Bible Institute.
“My father wanted me to go to beauty school so I would know how to take care of myself and not depend on a man,” she explained.
Her life changed course when she heard a sermon by a young preacher, the Reverend Stanley Long now based in New Jersey.
“I was influenced because he made the bible come alive,” she said. “He whetted my appetite to know more about the Lord.”
It was Long who took her to the bible college after her high school graduation, but she did not get in. Not deterred, she applied the next year and was accepted. Although her father was a deacon in the church and her mother was a missionary, at first they gave her no support to initiate her life’s dream because they wanted her to continue at beauty college.
Following her heart and not letting family pressures sway her; Mrs. Deanie knew it was an honor to have the chance to become a disciple of God.
“The church was set apart from all schools in the country because it was built through faith,” she explained. “Faculty, staff, and students trusted God to take care of the needs of all of us. There were no school fees only a registration fee. It was a privilege for me to go to that college.”
At the school she had classes that included bible theology, Christian education, gospels and bible doctrines. She explained that every class had a “spirit-filled prayer before it began.”
Mrs. Deanie graduated from Zion Bible Institute in 1963 and continued her education by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in 1966 from North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, MN. She remembers fondly that her father relented and was her first convert.
The 1963 class of Zion Bible Institute had 48 graduates; Thirty-eight are still alive and 23 were present for the reunion.
“Not one had a cane or wheelchair, we’re very mobile. It was awesome to see how God had kept most of us.”
The reunion was attended by at least 100 former students from other graduating classes with the oldest alum being 100 years old.
Mrs. Deanie came to St. Petersburg in 1968 one year after marrying Gustave Victor. Both devout Christians, Reverend Victor is an assistant pastor at the Dominion Worship Center and Mrs. Deanie has been an adult Sunday school teacher for years. She is also the Chaplain for the Metropolitan Section of the National Council of Negro Women.
“God allowed me to go to school,” she stated. “He gave me the opportunity and privilege to share and listen to other people’s problems. I open up the door for people to talk. I tell them what the scriptures say. Not gossiping just sharing God’s word. We’re a Mom and Pop shop; we could have been closed. God placed me here for a reason.”
BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN
ST. PETERSBURG — The Embrace Your Beauty, Your Body and Your Life Fashion Show exhibited a dazzling array of colorful garments and accessories last Sat., Nov. 2 at the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in St. Petersburg.
Women of all shapes, sizes and color were seen strutting their stuff down the runway in designer couture. Even the men got in on the fun with a featured segment by Classic Gentlemen Boutique.
Dressed as if they were standing on a Paris stage at Fashion Week, Deborah Figgs-Sanders and Rene Robinson Flowers welcomed the community to the event.
Despite the inclement weather, a standing room only crowd packed the museum to witness local designers showcase their fashions. The extravaganza had all the variety, elegance and sizzle of an Ebony Fashion Fair.
Featured designers included Deree’s Fleming, Najea Designs, Empress Majestic, Designs by Toni, Jacka Design, hats by designer Beatrice Morris, Classic Gentlemen and Audrey Pat Designs.
Donna Wooten Thompson paid a tribute to renowned Florida fashion designer Francisco ‘Azucar’ Gomez. She held a moment of silence for the Miami native that had a heart attack and died backstage just prior to the 5th Annual Chillounge Night event here in St. Pete last year.
ST. PETERSBURG – This month’s reduction in food stamps is just the latest example of how budget cuts continue to cause hardships for those who can least afford them. The fact that one in six Americans don’t have enough to eat at the same time that additional billions will be sliced from the food stamp program over the next 10 years means that those affected cannot keep suffering in silence.
That is why For The Family, Inc. has created the Family Town Hall Series. The latest round began with six meetings across Hillsborough County between September and October. It concludes in St. Petersburg with meetings on Tues., Nov. 12 from 3-5 p.m. at the Phillip Benjamin Tower Retirement Center, 250 58th St. N., and the following Tues., Nov. 19 from 11-1 p.m. at the Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave., S.
The series has a very simple goal of encouraging people to describe their real-world situations and then share them with the community. For The Family Administrator Ward Cox said that “when people realize that silence doesn’t protect them from budget cuts, then their stories will show the community that practically everyone is vulnerable sooner or later. The wolves are much closer to the door than we think.”
Previous meetings showed how the harm from ongoing budget cuts extends to vulnerable people and families of virtually every description.
For example, Sonalee Moctezuma is a 48-year-old mother of three whose 32-year old daughter Gregoria is a quadriplegic. She also has cerebral palsy and a brain disability that requires her to be fed through a tube.
Her challenges don’t keep her from “providing so much love that it’s unbelievable” according to Sonalee. However, the money allocated for medical services that were already determined to be absolutely necessary has been cut by 12 percent every year for the past seven years. This is on top of program cuts enacted by Congress within the past five years.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rick Krisemen held a neighborhood barbeque at Dell Holmes Park for the south St. Petersburg community Sat., Oct. 19. The event was sponsored by the Nite Riders Van Club. “Rick and about 15-20 campaign volunteers have been knocking on doors since 9 a.m.,” said Campaign Manager Cesar Fernandez.
Fernandez expressed enthusiasm about the Krisemen campaign for Mayor of St. Petersburg as people began filing into the park. “I’ve been talking to people to give us their support,” said Campaign Volunteer Eric Gerrard. “There’s good support for Rick down here. We started (the big push) five weeks ago, and this campaign will make a difference. It’s very important.”
Rick Krisemen arrived to the park close to noon full of energy and enthusiasm. “I started 9:15 a.m. at Dell Holmes,” said Krisemen. “Then, we proceeded to 6th Avenue South and 29th Avenue in Wildwood. Made contact with approximately 25 people. The entire campaign averages seeing several thousand people a day.”
As the smell of barbeque filled the air, and more people continued to arrive to show support for Krisemen, he shared some objectives that he would like to achieve if he is elected mayor. “We’ve got to create good paying jobs here. This hasn’t happened here in a long while. We’ve got to make our schools better by using a more holistic approach.”
When Krisemen was asked about his opinion on the push for national standards embodied in the Common Core, he expressed caution. “Must be careful how much emphasis is placed on a test-based curriculum, or we could end up with a similar predicament similar to the FCAT. We have to stop looking at teachers as the bad guys and the idea that the problem with education will be fixed by getting better teachers.”
Krisemen was very passionate about his third goal which focused on empowering the community.“ At one time, the Neighborhood Partnership Grant--which has been cut--had a budget of $300,00,” said Krisemen.“
Foster recently proposed refinancing the dormant grant with $30,000. Bottom line, everything begins with the community. When the community is involved with projects that improve life for its citizens, the city will be better off.”
As the sun began to burn off the morning fog, the stream of Krisemen supporters increased. In his closing remarks, Krisemen expressed his unwavering support for President Barack Obama. “I was only one of two government officials in West Florida that supported Obama in his first bid for the Presidency.”
Prior to Krisemen’s run for mayor of St. Petersburg, he served two terms as a member of the City Counsel and one term with the Legislature in Tallahassee..