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Community Foundation gives $100,000 to benefit kids at Bethune Park

Published on: May 25, 2016

By LOIS KINDLE
Published May 26, 2016

Wilma Norton photo The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay’s South Shore Council recently awarded $100,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay as a follow-up to a grant it made last summer to establish a summer program at Bethune in Wimauma. From left are Maj. Rob Bullara, HCSO commander, Dist. 4; Chris Letsos, Boys & Girls Club president and CEO; Marcos Murillo, Area 8 superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools; Bob Moore, foundation treasurer; Marlene Spalten, foundation CEO and president; and Richard Rios, South Shore Council president. Wilma Norton photos.

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay’s South Shore Council recently awarded $100,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay as a follow-up to a grant it made last summer to establish a summer program at Bethune in Wimauma. From left are Maj. Rob Bullara, HCSO commander, Dist. 4; Chris Letsos, Boys & Girls Club president and CEO; Marcos Murillo, Area 8 superintendent, Hillsborough County Public Schools; Bob Moore, foundation treasurer; Marlene Spalten, foundation CEO and president; and Richard Rios, South Shore Council president. Wilma Norton photos.

It’s not often an investment sees a 10-fold return in one year. But that’s exactly what happened last summer after the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay’s South Shore Council gave $50,000 in seed money to the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay.

The award was made to start a Boys & Girls Club summer program for kids at Bethune Park in Wimauma.

That goal was accomplished – and then some. Thanks to a partnership between the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Hillsborough County Schools and Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation, the original gift of $50,000 was “leveraged into $500,000 over the past 12 months,” said Richard Rios, South Shore Council chairman. “This truly was a collaborative effort to see this new program get off the ground in Wimauma.”

Impressed with the rate of return, the South Shore Council recently decided to make an even larger gift.

“We love collaborative giving, and when we saw what they were able to do with the initial money we gave last summer, it prompted us to make an additional grant of $100,000,” Rios said. “They’ve indicated they may use the money for a bus.

“This was one of the first grants we’ve given that wasn’t asked for,” Rios added. “We want to be more intentional with our grant making, and that means sometimes giving good money after good money.”

The award came as a complete surprise to the recipient, and it will be put to good use.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay is committed to creating a world-class club experience for the youth and families who need us the most,” said Chris Letsos, president and CEO. “As we celebrate 90 years of creating great futures in the Tampa Bay community, we are proud to acknowledge partners such as the South Shore Council for helping us ensure that success is within reach of every child, now and for the next 90 years.”

Richard Rios, South Shore Council president, right, surprises Chris Letsos, Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay CEO, left, with an unexpected $100,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay for the club’s ongoing efforts at Bethune Park in Wimauma. Marcos Murillo, Hillsborough County Public Schools Area 8 superintendent, looks on.

Richard Rios, South Shore Council president, right, surprises Chris Letsos, Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay CEO, left, with an unexpected $100,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay for the club’s ongoing efforts at Bethune Park in Wimauma. Marcos Murillo, Hillsborough County Public Schools Area 8 superintendent, looks on.

Both grants came from the foundation’s Harold W. Corrigan Fund — a discretionary, special-interest trust established by its namesake for educational programs benefiting underprivileged children in South Shore. The former physical education teacher and Sun City Center resident funded the trust through a series of contributions made while he was alive, and then to seven figures through a bequest at the time of his death in 2005. According to the foundation and per Corrigan’s wishes, grants from the fund must specifically go toward leadership programs and educational initiatives.

“One-hundred-percent of the funding will be used to support operations at the Wimauma Boys & Girls Club at Bethune Park, as well as extension programs at Wimauma Elementary School and Shields Middle School,” said Cassandra Thomas, director of development and communications for the Boys & Girls of Tampa Bay.

Last summer more than 100 youngsters benefited from the summer program set up through the original $50,000 grant. This year 250 to 300 will be served, Thomas said. An additional 200 to 250 are served at Wimauma Elementary and Shields Middle schools.

“The success of the program was so immediate, thanks in large part to the way the community embraced it,” said Marcos Murillo, Area 8 superintendent for Hillsborough County Public Schools. “It’s important for the children because the curriculum provides stability through the summer months to maintain learning. It’s a matter of not losing ground.”

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