On Friday, April 10, the Tampa Bay Community Foundation, Southshore Council, awarded the volunteer board members of the Ruskin Memorial Park a $29,000 grant allowing the nonprofit, community cemetery to make much-needed repairs and enhancements to the gazebo located in the eastern half of the cemetery.
“They have to sandblast it all the way down to bare metal,” said cemetery board member Linda Badgerow. “They’ll then put a rust-inhibitor on it and put a new metal roof on it. We’ll be able to have services under there, and we’ll also have power so if families want to have music, they can. That is something we’ve never been able to do before.”
The community cemetery is run on all-volunteer service and a shoestring budget. The project could not have been completed without the help of the Community Foundation.
“This is a project that we are happy to support,” said Marlene Spalten, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Community Foundation. “This is something for the people that will come later and for the people who came before us.”
Rick Rios, chairman of the Southshore Council of the Community Foundation, agreed.
“This is important to us, Ruskin is important to us,” he said. “We want to make an investment in this community.”
According to Rios, in the fiscal year that ends on June 30, they will have provided $800,000 to the area, including providing assistance to food pantries, to people in this area who simply need food.
According to Priscilla Mixon, a foundation Southshore Council member and one of the drivers of the project, the Community Foundation approved the full amount requested by the cemetery board, and once the gazebo has been fully restored, a Community Foundation plaque will be placed upon it.
Work on the restoration is already underway.
For information about the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, visit www.cftampabay.org.