“You represent hope for Tampa Bay,” proclaimed Dylan Pires to the dozens of representatives at an October 5, 2016, celebration for the second anniversary of the regional Charity Coalition.
That bold claim had several meanings. The group itself has become a beacon of hope, burgeoning from 45 member nonprofits to more than 200 in just two years. But more important is the work the various member groups do. “You feed children, shelter the abused, provide mentoring, protect the environment and educate on the harmful effects of drugs,” said Pires, the community affairs director of the Church of Scientology. “We are honored to have you here; thank you for your work to change the world.”
Many of those present could recall the inaugural meeting of the Charity Coalition, held in the Fort Harrison Ballroom in September 2014. Wanting to pull together members of the nonprofit community, staff members at the Church of Scientology had invited area groups for lunch.
During the two years since then, the Coalition has continued to hold bimonthly events at the Fort Harrison to enable members to network and share resources, and today the quadrupled count of Charity Coalition member organizations shows how much it has grown. But at the Second Anniversary Dinner, the guest speakers vividly communicated growth along an additional dimension: the increasingly collaborative power of the Coalition, through the partnerships it has created.
Delquanda Turner, community planning manager for the Juvenile Welfare Board, said, “Over the past two years in the Coalition, we have received information and resources that can strengthen our community and make a difference. We have often heard that it takes a village to raise a child. Just remember, we are the village that must remain connected and resourceful to make a difference in Pinellas County.”
Tonya Lewis of Children with a Vision told the attendees, “The future of the Charity Coalition is bright. It will continue to bridge the gap between individuals, leaders and the community.”
Maurice Mickens, a founding member of the group that worked to save North Greenwood’s cultural icon, the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, said: “We’re going for getting out of just the North Greenwood area and expanding further into Clearwater. The Charity Coalition provides a platform to intermingle and collaborate on future projects.”
Church of Scientology representative Lisa Mansell said, “I’m happiest about how excited and engaged the attendees are. They’re trying to get a job done. They’re passionate. They have their hearts into doing this. We help them find new resources, ways to achieve their goals. Lots of talk doesn’t get things done; action does. That’s what’s so satisfying: giving these doers a forum to get more done.”