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Lightning Foundation Grant Spotlight: Voices for Children

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.

Voices for Children

Among the top priorities for the Lightning Foundation is to help children in need throughout the Tampa Bay community. Fewer are in more need of help than those who have been abused or neglected. That's where the continuing grant to the Voices for Children of Hillsborough County, Inc. comes in to play.

At its end of the year awards ceremony, the Lightning Foundation awarded a grant for the second consecutive year to Voices for Children as part of its Psychological Assessment Project. Voices for Children, in partnership with Guardian Ad Litem, have a mission to provide support and advocacy for the abused, neglected and abandoned children of Hillsborough County.

The grant funds made available by the Foundation will provide psychological evaluations to benefit children in the Hillsborough Country Dependency Court System. These evaluations help give a better understanding of the children and help determine an appropriate course of action in how to best treat them.

"The funding goes directly to psychiatric treatments of children who've been abused in our community," said Lisa Semeyn, Executive Director of Voices for Children of Hillsborough County, Inc. "We have kids that have been physically and sexually abused, so this funding allows us to get the help they need, psychologically, to deal with that. It's very important that they get help right away."

Semeyn said that having the support of the Lightning Foundation is very important for Voices for Children because it helps bring credibility to their organization.

"The Lightning is just so wonderful to the community in general, so to say that we're funded by the Lightning Foundation, it just validates what we do," she said. "People in the community respect the Lightning and so they respect us."

Voices for Children of Hillsborough County, Inc. has more than 400 volunteers that work directly with abused children as a guardian. Semeyn said they serve more than 4,000 children, about 40 percent of which are under the age of 5.

"The children themselves don't know who is helping them as far as the funds are concerned," she said. "But the people that help those kids, our volunteers, they know, and they're the ones who really appreciate the support.

"They know there's more to the Lightning than just hockey."

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