SCF Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With Service Projects

(Bradenton, Fla., Jan. 11, 2018) — Through funding from the Florida Legislature, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) will sponsor its fifth annual MLK Day of Service, joining a nationwide effort to transform the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into a day on which people make a difference in their communities.

SCF has awarded 25 service grants totaling $146,000 for projects throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties. Many of the projects will take place on Jan. 15. Projects began Jan. 6. The following projects were approved and are listed by project date:

Florida Veterans for Common Sense Fund will expand an urban farm on the campus of Easter Seals of Southwest Florida. In addition, volunteers will add solar lighting and irrigation. The farm serves veterans who are disabled, unemployed, under-employed and/or homeless. The lighting will allow for more events and volunteer days after work hours. The events will require more seating, foldable picnic tables and portables. The workday will take place Jan. 6 with the goal to complete the project that day. If the work is not completed it will be finished on Jan. 15.

Truly Valued will collect and provide school supplies to 1,000 children in need in Manatee and Sarasota counties. The supplies will be distributed for the second half of the school year to facilitate academic achievement and alleviate financial stress. A volunteer meeting will take place Jan. 11 from 6-8 p.m. at the Robert L. Taylor Community Center at 1845 34th St., Sarasota. Distribution will take place 5-7 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Palmetto Boys and Girls Club, 1600 10th St. W.  and noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 15 at Dr. Martin Luther King Park, 2601 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota.

Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County will purchase and distribute 2,500 children’s books that will promote diversity and harmony. The mission is to prepare children for school by facilitating early education and literacy opportunities for children and their families. The books are designed to help promote literacy and help children grow as readers and as citizens. The books will be distributed Jan. 13-20 at four locations in Florida House District 70.

The Five Pearls of Excellence in partnership with the Brotherhood of Men, Inc.’s technical skills development initiative, DuCon, LLC and the city of Sarasota will complete the renovation of a dilapidated residence at 2953 Links Ave., Sarasota. Ernest F. DuBose II, CEO of DuCon, will lead the construction management process. At-risk youth from the Brotherhood of Men will help renovate the house, learning skills such as electrical work, plumbing, HVAC and business skills. The community grand opening for the project, designed to provide an affordable house for a low-income family, will be held at noon on Jan. 13.

Centerstone of Florida, Inc. will sponsor two art therapy sessions to create a community advocacy quilt in support of people facing mental and behavioral health disorders and addiction. Participants will create a patch that advocates a specific message for those in need, to be combined with all of the other patches created, reflecting many perspectives offered by the community. Following the art therapy sessions, volunteers will assemble 10 mobile play therapy kits that Centerstone staff will be able to use to help children communicate their feelings and challenges. These are essential therapy tools. The day of service project will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 15 in the therapy rooms at Centerstone’s outpatient offices, 391 6th Ave. W., Bradenton.

The D.L. Randall Foundation will create a “Living Sanctuary” where the Rubonia Women’s Club used to stand and provide landscaping and cleanup to two nearby homes in the Rubonia Community on Jan. 15. The project will honor United States veterans and the club’s history, by making this space a place for community members to come to relax and reflect. Betty Mitchell, who pays the real estate taxes on the property, will also receive a landscaping makeover at her home at 1512 72nd St. E. In addition, a nearby home will receive cleanup and landscaping. By bringing the community of volunteers together in Rubonia, the project is designed to offer historical knowledge to community members, as well as instill a sense of pride in the area.

Educational Consultants Consortium will create a community children’s library at the Anna E. Gayle Resource Center in east Palmetto to promote reading for at-risk children. The ribbon-cutting will be held in conjunction with the third annual Martin Luther King Jr. read-a-thon from 1-5 p.m. Jan. 13. The project’s goal is to help ensure that children will start school ready to learn and that every student will be reading on grade level by the third grade. The library will feature a family-friendly design to include books, music and games designed to engage children and encourage family participation. Each time a parent reads with his or her child, the child will receive a free book to take home. By having a home library, children will have the opportunity to reread books and to develop a love for reading, thereby entering school with a love for books and prepared to read. A grand opening will take place at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 15.

Full Focus Photography will present its third annual Living Dream photo documentary. The documentary includes portraits and interviews of successful minority community members. The documentary and gallery of photos will be on display from 7-8 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 3rd Ave. W., Bradenton. Guests, including youth in the community, will have an opportunity to meet the professionals and talk to them about their careers. The short documentary film will be shown in select Manatee County schools and at the 13th Avenue Dream Center.  In addition, there will be quarterly photography classes in the community with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.  

IT Girls Inc. will launch a mentorship program at Manatee Elementary School called Back to the Future Moments Mentors. The program will include stations that elementary school students visit to learn different lessons, including a reading/story-telling corner, creating a hand print quilt, gardening, arts and crafts and a mobile STEM lab. Volunteers will staff the various areas from noon to 3 p.m. Jan. 15 throughout the campus at Manatee Elementary School.

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity will host a major community/yard cleanup project in Bradenton’s Washington Park to bring people together to improve their neighborhood and bridge barriers between neighborhoods and community organizations. The cleanup will be held from 8 a.m. to noon, Jan. 15 followed by a community cookout celebration from noon to 2 p.m.  Washington Park residents, volunteers and community organization members will have an opportunity to share their stories and enjoy some fellowship.

New Direction Community Development Corp. will offer a five-week course in green construction to train people struggling with homelessness, felony convictions or substance abuse. The classes, designed to prepare students to understand construction and industrial concepts, will be held at Joseph’s Storehouse of Florida Restoration Center. Graduates of the program are eligible to work in entry-level industrial and plant operations. This is an apprenticeship track program. The first class is set to graduate at 10 a.m. Jan. 15 at Joseph’s Storehouse of Florida Restoration Center, 1027 9th St. W., Bradenton.

Oneco United Methodist Church will partner with the Salvation Army to serve meals on Jan. 15. The groups will give out back packs and “blessing bags” to residents of the programs, including Plus Program-senior men, VA program veterans, DOC program, Turning Points men’s work program and those in the family shelter. Bags will include personal items such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush, wet wipes, nail clippers, socks and combs or brushes. Meals will be served from 4-6 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Salvation Army, 1204 14th St. W., Bradenton and bags will be given out at that time. Additional bags will be delivered at several locations throughout the community including Learn to Fish, Harvest House and Oneco United Methodist Church.

Project Light of Manatee, Inc. will work with volunteers to paint and beautify the exterior of the nonprofit school designed to help immigrants learn English and gain employment or enroll in college. Volunteers will spend two weeks cleaning and painting the school’s interior and exterior, including a mural. On Jan. 15 volunteers will complete the painting, working specifically on trim, baseboards and doors at the building at 1104 14th St. W., Bradenton Project Light of Manatee, Inc. hopes that a freshened building will help attract more volunteers and students.

Samoset Elementary School students in the third, fourth and fifth grades will study the life of Zora Neale Hurston and other African-American leaders to inspire them to serve. The students will transform the school’s front atrium into a reading peace garden at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 15. The garden project installed at the school, 3300 19th St. E., Bradenton, will include plantings, flowering trees and stumps for students to sit on. As part of the MLK Day of Service project students will put together Hurricane Maria survival kits for families in Puerto Rico and for students in an adopted sister school. One of Samoset’s teachers will deliver the kits to the school in Puerto Rico in January. They also plan to create a lending library that includes books in multiple languages that will be accessible to the students and their parents.

Second Chance Last Opportunity in collaboration with Action Together Suncoast and SUGAR Volunteers Inc. of Sarasota County will host an “OUR World” project giving cameras to 35 at-risk youth, ages 5-11, in the Newtown community to take photos of everyday life where they live. The idea is to allow others to see their world through a special lens. Each participant will work with a volunteer to learn to use the camera and each will be able to shoot 25 photos, saved to an SD card they will keep. The project teaches youth how to use a camera and look through the lens and show their perspective of their world. There will be team-building activities, as well as volunteer opportunities. Volunteers will help the participants upload their 10 best photos on a computer and print the top five. Each participant will have two photos displayed on easels and three on a global holder. The photos will be displayed Jan. 15 at 1625 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Sarasota.

State College of Florida Collegiate School Diversity Club will create Little Free Library book exchanges at four locations in Manatee County to help students develop a lifelong love of reading. On Jan. 15 diversity club members will build, paint and deliver the little libraries with free books throughout Manatee County allowing students to borrow books and drop off books to share.

Strength in Action in collaboration with the Rosalyn Walton Education and Enrichment Services Inc. and Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church will host a literacy workshop from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 15 at Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, 1301 2nd Ave. W. Palmetto. The event will include a discussion on the correlation between poor literacy and the “school to prison” pipeline. It also will address barriers to literacy, including a lack of culturally relevant books. In addition, there will be a book fair and Strength in Action will provide free backpacks with school supplies for youth, ages 8-17, who attend the event.

Boys and Girls Club of Manatee County will work with 10 members of the club at Southeast High School to become specialists on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to share their knowledge with 75 Boys and Girls Club members from Daughtrey Elementary School 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. daily at the Boys and Girls Club Jan. 15-19.  The elementary school students also will receive book bags with school supplies.

ChiChi-Okobee Society C.A.R. will host a Youth Genealogy program 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 15 in the Children’s Garden and Art Center at 1670 10th Way, Sarasota. The event is targeted to children in the Newtown and Overtown communities in Sarasota. There will be a beginning genealogy class, as well as a STEM-based genetic genealogy component. As part of the genetic program, at least 10 youth will receive DNA kits to allow them to explore their ancestral roots. The first 50 families who attend will receive genealogy goody bags, which will contain genealogy detective kits, ‘The Kinds Family Tree’ book, family tree MadLibs and promotional items from area businesses. Volunteer artists will sketch caricature portraits as a keep sake for the youth involved in the program. In addition, there will be an “I Am My Ancestor’s Wildest Dream” photo opportunity in which students write about why and how they are fulfilling that dream, to include an ancestor’s name they’d like to honor.

St. John First Baptist Institutional Church will offer classes to veterans, adults and students on how to safely surf the internet, use email and access educational databases for standardized testing, English proficiency, practicing basic computer skills and resume writing. The classes begin 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Jan. 15 at the church, 1108 29th St. E., Palmetto. The classes will continue from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturdays.

University of Florida-Manatee County Extension Master Gardeners will offer a plant-a-pail vegetable gardening workshop for residents in food deserts. The mission is to help residents grow and harvest healthy vegetables that are not easily accessible in their neighborhoods. Last year the effort was able to place 550 mobile vegetable containers into communities across Manatee County. Residents in those communities have reported harvesting 6,000 vegetables. Locations include Rubonia, Bradenton Village, Samoset, the Dream Center, and Manatee and Bradenton Housing Authorities. Five new organizations have been added this year. They are Veterans Services, Visible Men Academy, Truly Valued, two Habitat for Humanity communities and the Volunteers of America Homeless Transition facility. Master Gardeners will offer one-hour workshops every two weeks Jan. 15-May 31, breaking for the summer and then returning to the communities October through December.

Turning Points will provide much needed medical services, including free dentures, mammograms and vital prescription medications, to as many as 500 of Manatee County’s underserved residents. By partnering with H.L.B. Dental Prosthetics, Inc., Turning Points was able to get a large discount to produce dentures to be able to serve more people using the MLK Day grant. The agency also will partner with Manatee Diagnostics to offer free mammograms for those without health insurance. Volunteer pharmacists and students will work with physicians to determine the most effective and economical medications for those who rely on prescriptions. The grant will help Turning Points provide free prescriptions to those in need. Turning Points, H.L.B. Dental Prosthetics, Manatee Diagnostic Center and Manatee Discount Pharmacy will host a kick-off event at 10 a.m. Jan. 16 at the Bill Galvano One Stop Clinic.

Diamondz in the Ruff, Inc., a grass-roots organization, plans to purchase eight new computers and to upgrade software for the Bradenton Village Learning Center. The learning center serves about 350 people a month through financial education workshops, after-school tutoring for students, first-time homebuyer classes, computer classes and career training. The new computers and improvements to the learning center will be unveiled at 10 a.m. Jan. 20 at 1302 3rd St. W., Bradenton.

Hope Outreach Ministries Resource Center will feed the homeless community and provide backpacks with blankets and personal hygiene products, such as toothpaste, tooth brushes, wet wipes, deodorant and toilet paper. The outreach, with the ultimate goal of connecting with the homeless and getting them in touch with their families and off the streets, will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 20 near the Salvation Army at Central Avenue and 10th Street in Sarasota.

Ivy Foundation Inc. will host an event promoting historically black colleges and education as a path to success. To ensure that African-American students in Manatee and Sarasota counties understand the history, culture and purpose of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in collaboration with the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Alumni Association and the 13th Avenue Dream Center plan to present #ThinkHBCU. The project will include workshops and information sessions from FAMU, Florida Memorial and Bethune Cookman College from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 20 at the 13th Avenue Dream Center in Bradenton. The event will include a pre-registration survey to help organizers understand students’ needs and knowledge of HBCU education.

For more information, contact Rodney Jones, program manager, at or 941-752-5178.

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