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by Staff Writer / Tampa Bay Lightning
Lightning Foundation Grant Story Archive:
A Ray Of Hope From The Sunshine Project
SERVE Volunteers In Education
St. Peter Claver Catholic Scholarship Fund
Tampa Bay SLED Hockey Program
Everyday Blessings For Foster Children
The Spring Of Tampa Bay, Where Family Abuse Ends
A Gift For Teaching
Salesian Youth Center
Connected By 25

On Wednesday, May 31 the Lightning Foundation, charitable arm of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum, presented nine financial grants to charities in the Tampa Bay community totaling more than $70,000. Marking the first time in its history that the foundation has conducted a grant program, the event signaled the evolution and continued growth of the Lightning Foundation which aims to be a leader in Tampa Bay, helping to make our community a better place to live, work and play.

Below is the second of nine features that will run weekdays on, detailing each program that received a grant and why it was selected by the Lightning Foundation's Board of Directors. For more information on each program or to learn how you can help please look for the link at the end of the story.


It takes thousands of educators and administrators to keep the School District of Hillsborough County running on a daily basis so the more than 200,000 students in the District can receive the educations they deserve. However, additional help is needed to provide the best educational environment possible, and that's where SERVE steps in.

"We're all about volunteers in Hillsborough County public schools," said Donna Houchen, Executive Director of SERVE. "That's our reason for being. There just aren't enough folks to do what needs to be done on a school campus."

A private nonprofit agency founded in 1969, SERVE recruits and involves diversely talented volunteers from the community to serve the Hillsborough County public schools by enriching the curriculum, assisting school administrators, and meeting the needs of individual students. Volunteers reinforce classroom lessons, build confidence in students and maximize student potential through various programs such as Tutor Partners, Speakers Bureau, mentoring and job shadowing.

A trio of highly-successful educational programs sponsored by the Lightning Foundation - Dave Mishkin's "Score with Reading" and "Report Like the Pros" and Rick Peckham's "Hockey by the Numbers" - have made their marks in Hillsborough County Schools thanks to SERVE.

"Time is one of the most important things that people can provide for the schools," Houchen said. "Students need caring adults, one-on-one assistance and people who can let them know about the opportunities in their future."

WTSP 10 News morning anchor Mario Diaz has volunteered for SERVE for several years, visiting schools and participating in the Speakers Bureau. While serving as the host at the Lightning Foundation's grant presentation, he urged all in attendance to volunteer their time to help children in some way. He praised SERVE for its focus on our future.

"SERVE deserves every ounce of recognition it receives because it is a facilitator of information by recruiting and assisting speakers for the School District of Hillsborough County," Diaz said. "At SERVE, they're helping to change young minds and make the Tampa Bay area's future better."

The grant received from the Lightning Foundation will provide support for the Speakers Bureau program that scheduled more than 1,500 presentations annually and impacts more than 70,000 students in Hillsborough County.

"We arrange the speakers to come into classrooms to enhance that classroom experience," Houchen said. "It's invaluable for a student to hear about a career from someone in that career. The grant from the Lightning Foundation gives us the staffing to allow the coordination of that program to take place."

For more information about SERVE - Volunteers in Education - or to learn how you can help, please log on to
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