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Lightning Foundation Grant Spotlight: SERVE

by Erin Chenderlin / Tampa Bay Lightning

On April 23, the Lightning Foundation awarded grants to 16 local organizations totaling $120,500 at the Community Awards and Donor Recognition Reception. Grant applicants were asked to detail their organizations and give a proposed program or project, along with a description of how it qualifies under the Lightning Foundation's funding guidelines. The Foundation's Board of Directors selected the 16 organizations. is profiling each of the organizations and the grant they received. Check back daily for a new organization and see how the Lightning Foundation is truly fulfilling its mission to make Tampa Bay a better place to live, work and play.


The Lightning Foundation and the SERVE Speaker's Bureau have a very close-knit connection. Not only did the Foundation award SERVE a continuing grant to help fund the program, but two familiar voices to the Lightning team work closely with the Speaker's Bureau, volunteering their time to teach students throughout Hillsborough County about reading and math skills.  


"Our partnership with the Lightning and Lightning Foundation has been going on for several years," said Donna Houchen, SERVE's executive director. "We're blessed to have two speakers, Rick Peckham and Dave Mishkin, work with us with our Speaker's Bureau. They work and reach out to thousands every year with their programs."


Peckham, the Lightning's television play-by-play announcer, brings a program called Hockey by the Numbers to Hillsborough County schools. With the program, Peckham uses hockey as a way of translating math concepts. He has students add up total miles between cities on a road trip, for example, or asks students what percentage of goals a certain player has in relation to the team's total.


Mishkin, the Lightning's radio play-by-play announcer, uses his Score with Reading program to teach children about the joys and benefits of reading. Using the book, The Magic Hockey Stick, Mishkin reads to children and reinforces classroom reading concepts.


"They help gets kids excited about those programs," Houchen said. "They reinforce academic lessons in the schools and provide it in a way that's both entertaining and informative for the students."


The objective of the SERVE Speaker's Bureau is to prepare students for the future through real-world and life skills presentations. Speakers introduce students to different careers, experiences and hobbies, all while supporting classroom lessons.


"One of the areas that we spend a good bit of our time on is careers and motivation, particularly at the middle and high school levels," Houchen said. SERVE is in charge of setting up meetings between the schools and the volunteer speakers. They get requests from the schools as to what kinds of speakers teachers are looking for, then put in the time to find a speaker that will appropriately fill the request. SERVE makes sure the assigned dates work for both parties, then talks with both the school and the speaker to assess how the presentation went.

"This Lightning grant allows us to provide career motivation and general speakers out to the classrooms, the teachers and the schools throughout the district, so it's a big part of helping to fund that program," Houchen said. "It's a good partnership."

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