Housewives in the City: Tell us about your business and how you became the successful business woman you are today.
Junise Belizaire-Color Me Abstract was birthed after realizing some of the obstacles families face when trying to foster togetherness. Whenever I got together with friends, the complaints were always the same...going out was an inconvenience because you had to find a sitter, there was not much to do locally, and then there was the expense at the end. This pained me because I believe family is the foundation of our community so I was motivated to close these gaps.
Housewives in the City: Tell us about your business and how you became the successful business woman you are today.
Alisa Savoretti: My vocation actually chose me...
I am an entrepreneur and had borrowed $60,000 at the start of the new millennium to build a furniture business on the web. I was one of the pioneers in E-commerce. I spent 2 years building the website (there were no templates 20 years ago) to launch for the 2001 Christmas season. Late 2001, however, I found a lump in my breast. The world as I planned came to a stop and I headed to the health department to seek treatment as I was uninsured.
Following my mastectomy and only 5 months after my last chemotherapy, I had to return to work and former career as a professional dancer in Las Vegas – this time however, minus one breast. I billed myself as the “Lop-sided Showgirl”, knowing the media would pick up on the story. I had to wait nearly 3 years to acquire my breast reconstruction and realized then the huge gap in treatment that existed for “uninsured” and underinsured survivors lacking the financial means. With the help of NAWBO, a national woman's organization, My Hope Chest became a 501c3 in December 2003.
Thank you to Jaclyn Clark, Area Director for Best Buddies Tampa, for sharing at the December 3rd Girls Night Out. Here is a little information for those that missed it!
Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Who They Serve
The IDD community that Best Buddies serves includes, but is not limited to, people with Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities.
Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Our programs empower the special abilities of people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communication skills, and feel valued by society.
If you want to be a part of this life changing organization you can go here to learn more, https://www.bestbuddies.org/take-action/
For more information on local events and programs, check out: https://www.bestbuddies.org/florida
We are happy to spotlight an amazing organization here in Florida. We have highlighted the Pinellas Center at our last two Pinellas events but locally there are also centers in Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Polk and Manatee. Pace began in 1985 with one Center in Jacksonville, Florida serving 10 girls. Today PACE includes 21 Centers throughout Florida that serve over 3,000 girls each year and Pace has changed the life trajectory of over 40,000 girls since its inception. Pace began as a community response to the realization that girls involved with the justice system were either being placed in programs designed for boys or placed further into the system for their own protection. There were no effective alternatives. Started by Vicki Burke and guided by the research-based recommendations which called for gender responsive programming, Pace created a new alternative to institutionalization or incarceration for girls.
Pace is now recognized as a national model for reducing recidivism and improving school success, employment and self-sufficiency among girls by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children's Defense Fund, National Mental Health Association, National Council on Crime and Delinquency, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
At Pace Center for Girls, they have developed a nationally recognized, research-based non-residential program model that features a balanced emphasis on academics and social services, with a focus on the future for middle and high-school aged girls and young women.
The foundation of Pace is our gender-responsive culture where we provide a safe environment that celebrates girls. Pace offers services that take into account how girls learn and develop and our supportive staff members respond to and celebrate each girl’s strengths and challenges.
The holistic, strength-based, and asset building Pace program model addresses the needs of girls and has garnered recognition nationally as one of the most effective programs in the country for keeping girls from entering the juvenile justice system.
How can you help?
Advocacy- Just reading this and knowing more about what they are doing is so important so that you can share the information. Awareness in the community is so critical.
Gift cards- As we go into the holiday season, the Center needs help providing gifts for the girls as they might not be able to celebrate otherwise.
Please contact Heidi Hugh, Pinellas Community Engagement Manager for more information.
We are thrilled to spotlight an amazing organization here in Tampa, Autism Shifts. Autism Shifts was founded by Vicky Westra as a result of the experiences she and her husband had while raising her daughter Gabrielle (Gabbi), who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of four. Vicky shares the journey that many families have had in finding the right resources, people and programs that could serve Gabbi and help her to continue to grow and develop. She felt a calling to create something different for Gabbi and others in the same situation.
After 22 years in Corporate America, Vicky left her senior leadership role and started a coffee company and a non-profit for Autism. These two organizations came together in 2011 to form Artistas Café, a first-of-its kind Café employing a team of front-line employees who have all been diagnosed with Autism.
Vicky and her team at Autism Shifts have created a proven and unique model that incorporates a very holistic approach to preparing students to successfully enter the workplace. Through our partnership with Artistas Café, we have developed an understanding of what it takes to create an environment where individuals with autism can grow and develop their skills to be successfully employed.
What makes their program different?
How Can You Get Involved?
The Autism Shifts Community is a vital part of the successful integration of the community of Autism into the work force. They encourage entrepreneurs, non-profits, schools, businesses, families and everyone else who is interested in being part of their movement at Autism Shifts to get to know them! Visit the Re-Imagine Center, join a workshop, share their events. There’s so many opportunities to help young adults with Autism live life on purpose. This means living and working independently with their dream life created not only for themselves, but within the community they live in.
Come meet Vicky at our upcoming event on August 20th, Girls Night Out at Carmel Kitchen + Wine Bar, and find out how you can get involved. You can even make a purchase at The Charity Branch boutique where 10% of the proceeds will go to Autism Shifts!
We are thrilled to spotlight The Centre For Girls as our featured Tampa non-profit for this month! The Centre for Girls is a program of The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in Tampa. The Centre for Girls offers innovative programming during after-school hours and a summer camp that includes fine arts, ceramics, fashion, dance, and STEM-based instruction to girls, ages 5-14. The Centre for Girls strives to provide young girls with a safe place to spend time, learn skills, make friends, and interact with caring adults.
Located in Old Seminole Heights, The Centre For Girls offers programs in art & education, health & wellness, girl empowerment, and green living. Under the leadership of their amazing director, Sartura Smith, The Centre For Girls is striving to be the most well-known and highly regarded center for girls in the Tampa Bay area. They believe in creating positive change for each girl touched by the Centre, regardless of her socioeconomic background.
How Can You Help?
Do you have a passion for empowering girls? The Centre For Girls needs your support to fund their programs, deliver quality instruction, and enhance the lives of the next generation of girls. They are actively looking for volunteers, community partners, and sponsors.
Tampa Housewives in the City will be doing an item drive to support CFG's summer programs. They are currently in need of snack/breakfast items for their upcoming summer camp that begins on June 10th. The summer food program that previously provided meals for their children during the summer lost their funding, so we are collecting donations of snack/breakfast items at our Noble Crust Carrollwood Girls Night Out on June 4th. We hope you will join us and help support this amazing Tampa organization!
The Centre For Girls
Our charity spotlight for April is for a cause close to my heart. It is also one that we've highlighted before! The STANO Foundation was founded to support our Armed Forces, Veterans, and their families through program-based initiatives focused on enhancing their comfort and quality of life by providing them with a piece of home.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the founder, Paula Stano. She is a single mom of a US Marine who is the inspiration behind this organization. After his enlistment, she quickly learned of how many of our military troops didn’t have any or much support from back home. With her son being stationed overseas, it became painstakingly apparent during the holiday season that these men and women would have to celebrate in either their barracks or maybe a local USO and not with their families. Paula would like to incorporate a program here in the Tampa Bay area where anyone stationed here without family would be able to sign up for a program where they could spend holidays with host families so they didn’t feel so alone. Paula has a great passion of helping others and wants to help our soldiers feel closer to home even when stationed far from their families.
The STANO Foundation is best known for their personalized care packages that they send overseas. They focus on providing a personal, heart felt touch into every package. This is done by asking “what can we do better?” And “what would you like in your care package?” They send out these packages throughout the year, with particularly large shipments during July and before Christmas time. The packages are made possible by item and shipping cost donations from the community. You can view the entire list of requested donation items on their website.
This Thursday, April 4th, Tampa Housewives in the City will be collecting items needed for upcoming care packages: beef jerky, men’s deodorant, or puzzle books at our Ladies Night Out at The Brass Tap - Wiregrass from 5 - 8 pm.
Please visit The Stano Foundation's website for a full overview of their programs and opportunities to support them.
We are honored to feature Post 9/11 Veterans as our spotlight non-profit this month. Founded by two Post 9/11 Veterans, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Post 9/11 organization was created by the same demographic they are focused on helping. Operating as a Federal 501 (c) (3) Nonprofit, their ability to connect with their peers and local communities on both a social and personal level is what sets them apart from other established organizations.
They focus on providing a platform, a starting point, and a place of belonging, where veterans are encouraged to integrate into their local communities. By building a strong community through social outreach and events, they strive to change many of the negative stigmas surrounding returning veterans, while positively impacting entire communities.
While active duty service is one of the highest honors one can have, often times, the transitional phase out into the civilian world can be challenging. Post 9/11 Veterans truly believe that our returning service members of today can, and will, be the future business and professional leaders of tomorrow.
Post 9/11 Veterans programs and initiatives in Tampa revolve around connecting and immersing returning service members in hands-on and constructive environments where they are able to connect with other like-minded veterans, feel the sense of purpose and brotherhood, and reintegrate properly back into the Tampa Bay community with the same pride, passion, and feeling of belonging they had while serving on active duty.
Since their start in 2015, the organization has grown exponentially with the addition of 20 staff employees and hundreds of volunteers. Being a 100% volunteer organization, Post 9/11 Veterans relies heavily on you, the community, to support their mission and vision. Through contributions they have been able to supply thousands of underprivileged children with much needed school supplies, ensure local veterans were able to provide a Happy Holiday season for their families, and educational scholarships for veterans pursuing their dreams of becoming college graduates.
Our spotlight non-profit this month is Florida Hospital Carrollwood. They are committed to improving the quality of life of their patients, family, friends, and neighbors. We would like to feature them this month during their efforts to build a Breast Wellness Centre that would allow them to further that commitment by offering preventive, diagnostic and treatment services for breast cancer to their patients and the local community. I'd love to share the words below from Tony Laforgia, their Executive Director of the Florida Hospital Carrollwood Foundation:
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I know it’s hard to do, but can you imagine what it would be like if someone in your family was diagnosed with breast cancer? Think of how your world would change if you suddenly lost your mother, sister, or sibling. Sadly, breast cancer impacts thousands in our community each year, and access to comprehensive treatment centers as well as the latest medical equipment that can help with early diagnosis isn’t available in many areas.
Sadly, many families in our community are facing the devastating challenges that these problems can pose.
Together we can change this.
The Florida Hospital Carrollwood Foundation is working on raising funds to develop a new Breast Wellness Center in our community that will provide holistic care and the latest in diagnostic medical technology.
Our goal this holiday season is to raise $82,000 for the first major purchase of a breast ultrasound machine for the center, and your donation can help!
Please consider a donation toward this goal as you plan your end of year giving. You can positively impact the lives of those in your local community, and perhaps even the lives of friends and family.
Visit www.floridahospital.com/carrollwood/foundation to make a charitable contribution.
Please also the video link below for more information about our project and its chairman, Paul Dombroski.
You can chat with some of the amazing people supporting this effort at our next Girls Night Out event on Dec. 4th at Bahama Breeze in Lutz/Wesley Chapel.
Additionally, for general questions or to inquire about a sponsorship please contact the Foundation office at Florida Hospital Carrollwood
Executive Director - Tony LaForgia
Phone- (813) 957-7224
Florida Hospital Carrollwood is a 501 (c)(3) charitable, non-profit organization.
We are pleased to highlight the work of the Junior League of Tampa in our community. Founded in 1926, The Junior League of Tampa, Inc. is an organization of over 2,000 women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.
The Junior League of Tampa maintains approximately 1,000 active force members to support many incredible efforts in our community, specifically child welfare and education. Launched in 1996, the Love Bundles project provides backpacks with essential items to children within 24 hours of removal from their home due to neglect or abuse. League volunteers purchase, organize, and pack the Love Bundles backpacks. Backpacks are then distributed by their partners Eckerd Family Alternative and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2009, The Junior League of Tampa partnered with Feeding Tampa Bay to create and sustain a “backpack” program. The goal is to provide food to disadvantaged children over the weekends, when they are not receiving meals at school. Over 10,000 bags of food have been distributed last year to families in need. Each week more than 300 bags are distributed at five locations around the Tampa Bay Area. In addition to providing the weekly bags, the League hosted Farmer’s Markets at three sites where children had the opportunity to “shop” for their favorite produce.
The Junior League of Tampa Diaper Bank serves to combat diaper need within Hillsborough County by supplying diapers to programs in our community. “When Hurricane Irma threatened the Tampa area, it highlighted an issue that we came to realize was a deep and constant need for families in our community. With no government safety net, diaper need is paralyzing for families. Our membership is committed to developing the potential of women and children here in Hillsborough County. We’re in a unique position to help close the gap on diaper need and are driven to do so. Diaper Need is a deep and perpetual need for many of our fellow citizens, one that is keeping them from professional and educational opportunities necessary to break the cycle of poverty and endangering their children. We have the training and numbers to make a profound impact and we are driven to do so.” - Caroline Foss
Tampa Housewives in the City is supporting the Diaper Bank at our November 5th event at bartaco in Hyde Park Village. Bring a donation of diapers to the event to support the local population in need.
Holiday Gift Market
The Holiday Gift Market is The Junior League of Tampa’s largest fundraising event. The event provides a unique shopping experience with over 180 merchants selling everything from clothing, jewelry, and handbags to food, art and children’s items. Net proceeds of the event fund the League’s community projects and programs around Tampa Bay.
Find all of the details, including the schedule and ticket information, on their website: https://www.jltampa.org/featured-events/holiday-gift-market/
Welcome to the Tampa Housewives in the City! I am Nicole and I am excited to be the new host of the Girl’s Night Out events! I have attended the events for years and I just love big group gatherings whether I'm hosting or attending. I am a wife, mother of 2 and a small business owner-Your New Best Friend Concierge. Spa treatments, lazy days by the pool and playing loud music alone in the car -- all make me happy!