By LOIS KINDLE
Hillsborough Community College SouthShore in Ruskin hosted its 2022 Campus Kickoff July 28. Attendance was estimated at 1,200.
The community-wide celebration featured a wide variety of more than 60 vendors, including area service and rescue groups, military organizations and others serving both students and the public. Among them were Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, Sun City Center Emergency Squad, Hillsborough County Library Co-op, Hispanic Services Council and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
While handing out information on their programs, many sought volunteers, including students needing community service hours, or discussed potential careers. Among these were the Critter Adoption and Rescue Effort, Hillsborough County Aging Services, Crisis Center Tampa Bay, Career Source Tampa Bay, Coca Cola, TD Bank and HCA Florida South Shore Hospital.
Thanks to the event’s sponsors, the HCC Foundation, CCPI and Gilbane, complimentary fresh-squeezed lemonade, corn dogs and funnel cakes were available for everyone.
A special program themed “Good Job” took place at 1 p.m. in the Dickman Community Room to honor area first responders, including law enforcement, nurses, EMTs and the like who have given their all and worked ‘round the clock during the pandemic for the others in the community.
During the 57-minute program, HCC SouthShore Campus President Jennifer China gave every first responder in attendance a medallion to thank them for their valiant service.
As essential workers entered the community room, a pre-recorded 2020 Alicia Keys song, “Good Job” played in the background, China said.
Here’s a sampling of the lyrics they heard:
“You’re the engine that makes all things go
And you’re always in disguise, my hero
I see your light in the dark
Smile in my face when we all know it’s hard
There’s no way to ever pay you back
Bless your heart, know I love you for that
Honest and selfless
I don’t know if this helps it but
You’re doing a good job, a good job
You’re doing a good job
Don’t get too down
The world needs you now
Know that you matter
Matter, matter yeah…”
“It was so beautiful,” China said. “Many people had tears in their eyes.”
The guest speaker, retired Navy Rear Admiral Lawrence Chambers, brought the audience to its feet with his presentation, “Desperate Times Demand Heroic Measures,” which focused on how heroes show up at moments when they’re least expected.
China gave the college’s 2022 Community Hero Award to HCA Florida South Shore Hospital CEO Sheldon Barr.
Speaking remotely via video while on vacation overseas, Barr said, “It is such a privilege and honor to be this year’s hero’s award recipient.”
Thanking Dr. China, the HCC South Shore college faculty and its students, she added it had been such a privilege to collaborate with them on the hospital’s efforts in the community, particularly surrounding COVID-19.
Barr introduced the “incredible leaders” who made it possible for the hospital to provide care for both COVID patients and non-COVID patients.
“Thank you so much for this incredible honor.”
The HCA Florida South Shore Hospital leaders Barr referred to were those who accepted the award on her behalf: Brenda Kellon, respiratory supervisor; Mike Zimmermann, director of emergency services; Stephanie Geer, director, critical care/cardiovascular unit; Yvonne Benton, director, laboratory services; Beth Cameron, director of cardiac services; and Jim Williams, director, imaging services and patient transport.
China also presented the 2022 Corporate Hero of the Year Award to Louise Ellrod, vice president of business development and marketing for Charles Perry Partners Inc. (CPPI) and former chairman of the HCC Foundation Board.
“We gave her the award for her service to the South Shore Community during a time of great food insecurity,” China said. “She worked as a volunteer with Feeding Tampa Bay, when it came to our campus [in 2020] during the pandemic to provide food for the community.”
Ellrod appreciated the award.
“It’s been a true privilege to work with HCC and serve the community,” Ellrod said. “Dr. Jennifer China has been a mentor and friend and is just wonderful to work with.”
Additionally, Hillsborough Community College President Ken Atwater received the Leadership Medal for his commitment to no job losses during the worst part of the pandemic, China said.
“Yesterday’s campus kickoff was amazing,” China wrote to her faculty and staff the day after the July 28 event. “The theme of our 2022 Fall Kickoff was Celebrating Our Heroes. Due to events surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, many ordinary people achieved the well-deserved distinction of hero, both from the college and from our community.
“Our current [fall] enrollment now stands at 3,742 students,” she continued. “Yesterday alone, during the kickoff, the Advising [Department] staff enrolled over 100 students… I am thankful for your collective efforts to bring the SouthShore Campus back to pre-pandemic enrollment levels [4,400 in 2019].”
The following community partners are among those who support HCC SouthShore Campus throughout the year and events like the 2022 Campus Kickoff:
American Association of University Women, Apollo Beach Woman’s Club, Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, East Bay High School and Enterprising Latinas Inc.; Firehouse Cultural Center, Danita & Glenn Dickman Family Foundation, Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce, HCA Florida South Shore Hospital and Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women; Interfaith Social Action Council, Lennard High School, My Warriors Place, Riverview High School and GFWC Ruskin Woman’s Club; South County Acceleration Academy, South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce, SouthShore Chamber of Commerce and Sumner High School; Suncoast Credit Union and Wellspring Church.