TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Janet Cruz Rifkin as the 20th Lightning Community Hero of the 2015-16 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Minnesota Wild. Rifkin, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Hillsborough Community College Foundation.
After growing up in Tampa, Rifkin has made it her mission to give back to the community she has spent her entire life in. She has positively impacted the lives of veterans, Hispanics and African Americans by helping them get good paying jobs, and also by providing food to teen mothers and the homeless.
A teen mother herself growing up, Rifkin is able to help those in similar situations. She now represents West Tampa in the Florida Legislator and has promised her community that she would bring hope and opportunity back to them.
As a community leader, Rifkin has also helped to create Farm Share, a fresh produce distribution for hungry families. Recently, 350 families and food pantries benefitted from access to the free distribution of 18,000 pounds of healthy produce. Rifkin frequently uses her personal story as a focus of her volunteer involvement. At Alpha House, she talks about the challenges of being a teenage mother and surprises residents, assuring them that she speaks from experience.
Rifkin becomes the 199th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $10.1 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.