Bark in the Park, an annual fundraiser for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, is one of PAR’s most popular staff events. It brings together our mission of giving back with our love of animals. In 2020, it was our final in-person group event before the pandemic and quarantine.
The event was virtual this year due to COVID concerns, but that didn’t stop the PARty Animals from rolling up their sleeves and raising money for Tampa’s homeless, hungry, and helpless animals.
Neighborhood walks coupled with a robust fundraising campaign led to an all-time high of more than $11,000 in donations. PARty Animals Captain Melanie Casey, PAR’s Communications Manager, and CEO Kristin Greco attended a scaled-down event at the recently renovated HSTB shelter on March 27 where they learned, following a tight race, that they were this year’s “Top Dog” fundraisers.
The HSTB raised more than $125,000 overall, which will help house, heal, and feed more than 500 animals. Learn more about the event and HSTB at humanesocietytampa.org.
One of PAR’s core values is to give back to the community, and our dedicated staff provide time and resources to a variety of causes. This blog is one in a series about what drew our staff members to become involved with various charities. Today’s blog focuses on David Houser’s relationship with Metropolitan Ministries.
When David Houser, PAR’s director of sales, began heading up PAR’s involvement with Metropolitan Ministries several years ago, he knew this local, grassroots community nonprofit served struggling and homeless families throughout Tampa Bay. However, there is no way he ever could have expected the increase in need they would see once the pandemic hit.
“Food insecurity in this country is something that shouldn’t even be an issue,” said David, who leads the PAR team in food and gift drives throughout the year. “I’ve always had an interest in feeding people, taking care of that basic need, and making sure people have that ability to thrive.”
In 2019, Metropolitan Ministries served nearly 2 million meals and helped nearly 20,000 families with its support services. The organization provides food services, housing programs, family support services, and beyond. Since March, however, demand has skyrocketed with requests up 75% over the prior year—with the majority of the increase in requests coming from first-time recipients.
“That’s pretty dramatic when you talk about someone who has never needed assistance before,” said David, who normally leads a summer food drive. Knowing that PAR staff could not be in person this year to bring in items to help those in need, he decided instead to host a virtual fundraising drive to help the organization meet the demand it was seeing. PAR staff were able to raise more than $3,600 to donate to Metropolitan Ministries general fund, which they can use for their facilities, to fund programs, expand meal service, or to house the 113 families who live on their campus.
“They are not just a food bank,” said David, explaining why he identifies so strongly with Metropolitan Ministries vision. “They have people living on campus. They offer programs. They want to sustain the whole person and get them back on their feet.”
To learn more about Metropolitan Ministries and how you can get involved in helping their cause, visit their website.
One of PAR’s core values is to give back to the community, and our dedicated staff provide time and resources to a variety of causes. This blog is the first in a series about what drew our staff members to become involved with various charities. Today’s blog focuses on Jim Eddy’s relationship with Trinity Café.
When he was in high school, PAR Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jim Eddy’s mother left for good. Soon after, his father decided to leave town. He told Jim he had minutes to move out. Suddenly, Jim found himself without a home.
The youngest of five children, he needed to find a way to support himself, so he walked into First Florida Bank in Fort Myers looking for work.
“Gotta eat; need a job,” he told them. They walked him into the computer room—which no one in the bank wanted to learn. He didn’t know how to operate a computer, either, he told them. A woman pointed to some manuals nearby and told him, “That’s what the big books are for. You better start reading.” That was the day Jim started on his career path in computers.
About six years ago, Jim, who came to PAR in 2013, learned about Trinity Café. A program of Feeding Tampa Bay, Trinity Cafe is a free full-service restaurant for those in need. Seven days a week, guests take part in a restaurant-style experience, complete with a three-course meal. Volunteers serve, act as hosts, and bus tables. Trinity Café’s message resonated with Jim, and he organized a group of volunteers from PAR—known for its commitment to community—to serve. Today, Jim spearheads a group from PAR to make the trip to Trinity Café three times each year.
“You do a lot of things and often never see the outcome,” Jim said. “At Trinity Café, you serve and you see the outcome as you do it. It’s not abstract.” Jim believes that many other PAR staff members continue to volunteer at each opportunity because they can see how their work helps someone in an immediate way.
“My career has been fast-paced and I’ve raised a family with my wife Shari,” said Jim, who sees his involvement with Trinity Café as one way to integrate his strong Christian faith into the workplace, “but it limited my time to help others. It bothered me that I wasn’t able to do more. If you aren’t helping others, then faith is meaningless. PAR makes it easy to help others.”
Each year, PAR employees take part in a week-long United Way fundraising campaign. For more than 25 years, 100% of PAR staff members have contributed during our annual drive. We are hoping that this year will be no different! Follow along with us on our new Instagram account to see what we are up to this week!
Learn more about how you can help United Way in your community!
Last week, United Way Suncoast recognized several local individuals who have made significant contributions to the organization, inducting these individuals into a United Way Roundtable that has just 500 members worldwide. We are incredibly proud that PAR founders Bob and Cathy Smith were two of the honorees.
The Smiths began their relationship with the United Way in 1977 and became members of the Tocqueville Society in 1998. Bob and Cathy’s spirit of generosity and philanthropy has not stopped with their personal devotion to the United Way, though. They have encouraged PAR staff to actively participate in United Way activities in the area, donating both time and resources. In fact, PAR has had 100% employee participation in our annual United Way drive for more than 20 years! Other honorees at last week’s celebration represented organizations such as Raymond James, Publix, Ferman Automotive, and the Siemer Institute. To be among the company of these other organizations is simply inspiring.
Congratulations, Bob and Cathy! This is an amazing testament to your dedication to United Way for more than 40 years!
Watch the video that was shown at the ceremony.
This month has been filled with so many events that help PAR live up to our tagline, “Creating Connections. Changing Lives.”
We have been involved in several Community PARtners events. Read on to learn about some of the ways PAR staff have been involved in helping others lately!
United Way Day of Caring
Earlier this month, several employees spent the day at Hillsborough Aging Services playing games, calling bingo, and serving lunch to a special group of local senior citizens in our community. Through United Way Suncoast, more than 1,900 volunteers took part in 101 projects in the local area on one day. To learn more about how you can get involved in your community, visit United Way.
A group of PAR staffers participated in the No-Pucker Challenge to raise awareness for Niemann-Pick Type C (NPC). NPC is a rare, fatal childhood disease known as “Childhood Alzheimer’s.” PAR staff member Katie Meyer-Griffith’s husband Sean will be riding across Florida to raise awareness for Hope for Marian, the organization behind the No-Pucker Challenge. Learn more about Marian, a two-year-old girl fighting for her life against NPC and about Sean’s ride. Visit our Facebook page to watch us as we take on the No-Pucker Challenge!
Relief for Puerto Rico
PAR employees gathered boxes of much-needed supplies to send through the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration to help those devastated by Hurricane Maria. Whether it was batteries, garbage bags, diapers, or first aid supplies, staff stepped up and donated what we could to help the effort in Puerto Rico.
Additionally, we collected socks for children in need during our annual Socktoberfest drive, participated in our regular Meals on Wheels route, and so much more!
PAR is proud of our ongoing relationship with United Way.
Earlier this month, PAR staff took part in our annual fundraising campaign. For more than 20 years, 100% of staff members have contributed during our annual United Way drive. This year was no different. We exceeded our fundraising goal, resulting in employee contributions of $90,402.74 being donated to United Way to help continue its mission of helping others in our community. With match and challenge donations, that brings our 2017 United Way campaign total to $136,604.11!
Learn more about how you can help United Way in your community! Visit www.unitedway.org.