Mason Dixon Award for Volunteerism

One person can make an extraordinary difference. These award nominees were culled from an online poll driven by votes from the general public in the WEDU PBS viewing area. This honor will be bestowed upon the individual, family or group that has lent a unique voice to bring awareness, credence, support, or action to an issue or cause faced by our citizens and thus making a tremendous impact within an organization in our community. Local media personality, Mason Dixon, will ultimately choose and present the award to the most deserving recipient from top nominees that receive the most online support during the voting period.

Read the essays for each nominee, then cast your vote for this category below.

NOTE: The essays below have not been edited and are presented as originally shared by the author. They may contain grammatical or spelling errors.


Crescent of Hernando, Inc. dba Crescent Community Clinic

Husam AbuZarad, MD, a founding member of Crescent of Hernando, Inc. dba Crescent Community Clinic since 2008 has dedicated himself to ensuring that the uninsured, indigent and underserved non-elderly adults in Hernando County have access to chronic health care, palliative dental care and mental health services, regardless of the individuals ability to pay. He give unselfishly of his time, skills and energy as he volunteers to diagnose and treat patients at the clinic. He currently is the president of the board of directors and solicits other professionals to join with him to volunteer their medical specialties at Crescent Community Clinic. Having a full-time private practice does not limit his commitment to service for others. He has been instrumental in securing significant donations of medicine and equipment for the free clinic. Dr. AbuZarad is compassionate and assures that each patient has the highest quality of medical care. He is an inspiration to the young volunteers who aspire to work in the medical field. He directly influenced two premed students who now have obtained their medical degrees. He strongly believes in healing at the community level and integrating other professionals to collaborate and coordinate to provide access to health care. His attention to detail at every aspect has increased efficiency with the operations within the Crescent Community Clinic. Since 2008, Hernando County has had access to chronic health care, palliative dental care and mental health services for the individuals who do not qualify for the Affordable Care Act. Over the years since inception the clinic has had over 40,000 patient visits and operates with a budget of less than $150,000. Dr. AbuZarad has unselfishly volunteered a multitude of hours each year for the last ten years. I respectfully nominate Dr. Husam AbuZarad for the Mason Dixon Award for Volunteerism.

American Stage

Harrison Betz is in his sophomore year of high school & has dedicated his time, energy and heart to American Stage. Harrison first expressed interest in volunteering with us after accompanying his mother to a few of our performances. While Harrison had extracurricular commitments to Boy Scouts of America, he was beginning to get involved with his theatre department at Palm Harbor University High School and exhibited an interest in learning everything he could about the inner workings of a professional theatre company. He recruited his friend Leanna and the two of them spent their summer volunteering in our office two days a week and earned their required hours for the Bright Futures scholarship over the course of the summer. It was a great educational experience for them as they were able to read and see plays, observe professional auditions, and develop creative & administrative skills. They assisted with marketing efforts via social media, blog posts, postering around town, and being ambassadors for our UNDER 20 PASS. They helped with administrative duties by organizing our volunteer office space, storage area, and archiving reviews and photographs. Our working spaces became much more aesthetically pleasing & functional after Harrison brought his keen organizational eye to the table! They were both an invaluable help to me monitoring our season auditions by keeping the scheduling process moving smoothly. They collaborated to create a stop motion video promoting our school tour of Winnie the Pooh as their final summer project with us. Harrison is extremely bright and continues to stay connected with American Stage, advocating for our next generation initiatives. He and Leanna brightened our theatre with their energy and motivation to help in any capacity needed. He exhibits thoughtfulness in whatever task he is assigned and is truly one of our most valued ambassadors!

Sulphur Springs Museum, Inc

Sulphur Springs is a neighborhood located in central Tampa, dating back to the late 1800’s. It was a northerners’ winter retreat, a tourist destination for the healing waters of the springs and the entertainment area for Tampanian families. The community has, and is, going through many transitions. Amidst the iconic neighborhood structures, the Sulphur Springs Museum was formed in 2007 to tell the rich history of a community that helped shape the City of Tampa. Until February 2017, The Museum did not have a permanent home to house its artifacts. Dr. Elizabeth Bird, head of the Anthropology Department of the University of South Florida[USF] was instrumental in writing a grant that awarded the museum its first exhibit; a prestigious award from the Smithsonian Institution. The Museum was one of six small Florida museums awarded the travelling Water Ways exhibit, along with a grant that enabled the museum to develop the start of its permanent history panel collection. Dr. Bird has since retired from USF, however, her academic life has not stopped. She recently won the Oral History Association’s 2018 Book Award for her work, The Asaba Massacre: Trauma, Memory, and the Nigerian Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2017, co-authored with Fraser Ottanelli). Dr. Bird has continued to write grants which have enabled the museum to host seven traveling exhibits. The funds from these awards have also supported complimentary speaker series with topics that enhance each exhibit and provide the opportunity to conduct community events. Due to her efforts, the Sulphur Springs Museum has blossomed.

The Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance

Cindy Grant has dedicated her life to educating children and their parents on the dangers of drugs and alcohol after losing her 19-year-old son, Dan, to a drug-related incident. Her work to save lives is deeply personal as she continually shares her son’s story as a way to save others. As the Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance, she works with Tampa Bay area teens and other nonprofit organizations on prevention strategies to positively motivate teens to participate in productive activities rather than drugs and alcohol. Cindy has also created supplementary programs, including Youth Making a Difference and Students Working Against Tobacco in local cities she travels to throughout Florida. “If we can save one life, it’s worth it,” Cindy said why explaining the importance of her work. Cindy Grant used her pain to fuel a passion to create awareness for on the dangers of drugs and alcohol among youth.

The Seventh Mom Project, Inc.

Rebecca is an incredibly engaged person in the mental health and maternal health communities of Tampa Bay. With an ability to see the good and find the hope and possibilities in every situation, she continues to give, truly embracing the notion of charity for others. Rebecca has been over heard saying “when you agree to volunteer, you put in 100 percent effort” as well as “give sacrificially, not just from the surplus” and its apparent to anyone who meets her or her family that these are words they live by. Her husband and five children are often seen volunteering with her at events and serving others. Rebecca takes special pride in encouraging her children to also become contributing members of their community be it financial, emotional, material and through service to others. When postpartum distress shook up her entire life and family in 2015, she didn’t just get better and move on. She insisted on helping pull other mothers and families out of the darkness as well in anyway possible. This lead to founding The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. with other mothers fueled a passion for bringing awareness, education and hope to Mothers across Tampa Bay and eventually all over Florida and other States where her work has reached. Every win she celebrates is followed by the words “what more can we do next” and every set back is taken in stride because Rebecca lives her own message to never give up. Following the flooding of her home in Valrico by Hurricane Irma, Rebecca continued to put forth her best efforts as the volunteer director of The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. even when living in a hotel with her family of seven. One to occasionally give anonymously to avoid accolade, she is most worthy of the recognition of this award.

Family Promise of Hillsborough County

Because every child deserves a home, Dr. Deborah Humphrey transformed her 25-year physician career into a 9-year passionate movement to end family homelessness. At a local hospital, Deb sees first-hand homeless children are sicker and less likely to graduate. Their parents have a profound sense of hopelessness that they’ll never escape their situation. She teaches her residents and medical students on the unique needs of homeless families. In 2009, Deb joined a group of volunteers to get homeless families off the street. Knowing her three children had a safe home drove her to become the Board President of Hillsborough’s Family Promise. One of the first fundraisers gave Deb a real-life experience of what sleeping outside in a cardboard box was like rain and all. Before Family Promise opened their doors in 2014, Deb’s husband, Barry, passed away from cancer. It would have been understandable for Deb to back away from her commitment, but the first year of having the program operational cemented her decision. One of the first to come into the program was a family of six who lived out of their car the previous 6 months. The children were so happy to have beds one of the middle school daughters exploded at math and won her school’s math bowl. Deb recognizes that this could be the child to permanently break their family’s cycle of homelessness. Deb is involved in the daily operation of the program personally meeting and guiding over 60+ families. She has helped move the 40+ graduated families into their forever homes, which inevitably are always a third-floor walk-up. She has trained hundreds of volunteers and secured host sites to house the families. She is a healer, teacher, mother, widow, caregiver, and consummate volunteer having been recognized previously as a 2016 Be More finalist.

Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County

Phyllis Lasky is a compassionate, dedicated advocate for the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County. Working first as a volunteer and now as our Board member, Phyllis is a motivated woman on a mission to make sure Sarasota’s littlest learners have access to quality education and early literacy programs. Phyllis has been a volunteer “buddy” in our Literacy Buddy Project for the past 8 years. She has also recruited dozens of adult “buddies.” The PenPal program matches adult volunteers with Sarasota County preschool children. The children draw pictures of a certain interest and the adult responds with a handwritten letter and a new book corresponding to the interest. This project gets books into the hands of the children who need them the most. Many participating 3 year-old and 4 year-old children come from low income homes and have little to no access to books at home or in their community. After implementing our new Bucket of Books initiative, Phyllis embraced the program, leading the effort to add locations. Bucket of Books places small buckets of children’s books in businesses located in low-income communities, at no cost to the business. We target businesses where children frequent but are not typically “kid-friendly” locations. From Newtown to North Port, we now have more than 60 buckets across the county. Phyllis is also very active in all of the Coalition’s fundraising efforts and family events. She works tirelessly to elevate the organization’s profile and increase awareness of the needs of the young families we work with in our community. She is a true champion for children.

Embracing Our Differences (Coexistence, Inc.)

Dennis McGillicuddy’s vision, integrity and commitment have helped make our community a better place to live. His core values set a standard that others emulate. You can see the fruits of his 30 years of selfless service in the countless organizations and people he’s touched. As co-founder and chair of Embracing Our Differences (EOD), Dennis passionately supports EOD’s mission to use art’s transformative power to educate and inspire people to create a better world. Under his leadership, the organization has championed equality, inclusion and universal human rights. Dennis’ vision led to the development of EOD’s acclaimed education initiatives, which positively impact the lives of thousands of teachers and students every year. EOD’s outreach is one of southwest Florida’s largest education programs; more than 800 teachers and 39,000 students participated in 2018. EOD’s annual outdoor art show is equally crucial to its mission—and equally close to Dennis’ heart. Celebrating the theme of “enriching lives through diversity,” it showcases the art and words of thousands of people from around the world. Since 2004, the exhibit has touched the hearts and minds of more than 2.7 million visitors. It is not unusual for individuals to contribute generously of their money or time—but few do both. Dennis is that person; he strives to utilize every available “pulpit,” in his efforts to raise awareness about important issues. In addition to providing a tremendous amount of financial support, Dennis volunteers hundreds of hours a year to further empower and energize these programs. He’s an active philanthropist, wise counselor and one of our community’s most respected leaders. Thanks to his unwavering leadership, “celebrating diversity” is no longer a remote ideal; it’s woven into the area’s social fabric. Dennis truly lives his life according to Gandhi’s philosophy by being “the change you wish to see in the world.”

The Kind Mouse

I am nominating my daughter, Sydney Merritt. She is 12 yrs old and has been volunteering with The Kind Mouse since she was 8. She packs Mouse Nibbles bags, helps show the ropes to the new volunteers, has helped and created her own food drive at school, worked the Mousequarade , been president of the Mice in Training program to name a few. She is currently help make a recording of a song for the group. She enjoys helping other less fortunate kids and has grown tremendously by helping others. Through The Kind Mouse she has also helped other charities as well,She was recently The Mad Hatter at their big Mad Hatter Tea Party event.. She forgoes doing other extracurricular activities at school so she can help at the “mouse house” . She is becoming a leader and learning valuable life skills and how kids can made a difference in other peoples lives. The Kind Mouse promotes the kids to do the work, take charge and suggest ideas that will help other children. Sydney has flourished under Gina Wilkins guidance and encouragement. She strives for the best and empowers them, no matter what age, that they can do anything. Sydney mentors the younger kids and is always helpful. I couldn’t be prouder of Sydney and cannot imagine how much she will do since she has already been amazing since she started with them 4 years ago. She talks of doing The Kind Mouse when she goes away to college. She is a selfless tween that thinks of others first and that is a rare thing nowadays. Please contact Gina Wilkins (727-518-5575) for The Kind Mouse nonprofit paperwork, I don’t have it as a parent. Thank you

The Kind Mouse Productions, Inc.

MICE IN TRAINING & MICE INTERNS – THESE KIDS FEEDING KIDS ARE THE NEXT GENERATION OF VOLUNTEERS TO KINDLY AND QUIETLY FEED FOOD INSECURE AND CHRONICALLY HUNGRY CHILDREN IN PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA. Envision little children digging through the trash looking for food to bring home after school hours. This is the population The Kind Mouse serves – our local chronically hungry children and their families. Since our inception in 2011, The Kind Mouse has filled over 180,000 hungry tummies. The mission of The Kind Mouse is to assist families in transition and their chronically hungry children while developing the next generation of volunteers to carry on the mission of The Kind Mouse. No hardworking individual should ever feel despair due to economic hardships beyond their control. Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure in their own homes and no one should ever go hungry. KIDS FEEDING KIDS inspires the next generation of volunteers to get involved and serve their community and peers in the best possible way. The Kind Mouse is grooming tomorrow’s future leaders through two outreach clubs (Mice In Training ages 5-12 and Mice Interns ages 13-18). These young volunteers are active participants involved in learning the ins and outs of running a nonprofit by conducting their own board meetings, raising awareness through public speaking and MouseVision video production, developing their leadership and communications skills, and cultivating empathy. Our ‘mice’ put together shopping lists and budgets, shop for the food, and pack Mouse Nibbles Weekend Pack Sacks for children who do not always have reliable access to food on the weekends. They plan, organize and manage food drives at their schools. They attend and speak at various fund-raising events and produce YouTube videos to inspire others to become involved to fight child hunger.

Habitat for Humanity

Mr. Karl Nurse has been a tireless advocate for safe, sustainable and affordable housing in Pinellas County for decades, being civically active in Pinellas County for over forty years. His work has impacted thousands of lives and had largely gone unrecognized, due to his modest nature. Although, his past involvement in various organizations throughout the years are too numerous to name, some of the highlights include; founder and president of Pinellas Living Green, Inc, former member, St. Petersburg Housing Roundtable, Former vice chair, St. Petersburg Neighborhood Housing Services and member Homeless Coalition 2006 to 2008. Serving as a St. Petersburg City Councilmember from 2007 until 2017, he focused much of his time and energy championing housing initiatives. As a Councilmember Mr. Nurse chaired the City’s Housing, Land Use and Transportation Committee, leading over 60 efforts to turn disadvantaged neighborhoods around, make the city more sustainable, promote economic justice and addressing affordable housing needs. Since leaving elected office, Mr. Nurse has continued to dedicate his time to the community, advocating and directly serving in the affordable housing continuum. Currently Mr. Nurse is a board member of affordable housing providers; Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County, Neighborhood Home Solutions and Sustainable Communities Renaissance Project, Inc. He also continues to serve on the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Committee and is Chair of the Grow Smarter Housing Committee. His civic engagement and advocacy continues to impact lives and the community as he continues his lifetime of civic commitment. Although he would like his efforts to largely go unnoticed, he should be honored and commended for his lifetime of work as he has impacted countless lives throughout his decades of dedicated service.

Tampa Theatre

Tampa Theatre is nominating Anne Arthur Pittman for this award because of her tireless commitment and love for Tampa’s majestic movie palace, Tampa Theatre. Anne Arthur Pittman is a third-generation Tampa native who has served on the Tampa Theatre Board since 2009 and was elected Board Chair in October 2017. After attending The Madeira School in Virginia and the University of Georgia, she moved back to Tampa, married and raised a family. In April 2016, Anne and her family – including her husband, Drew Pittman; her father and stepmother, Tom and Dixie Arthur; her mother and stepfather, Bretta Arthur Sullivan and The Honorable Don Sullivan; and her sister and brother-in-law, Tready and Thayer Smith – announced a half-million dollar gift to the Theatre’s Restoration Campaign. During her time on the Board of Directors, Anne led the successful $6 million Restoration Capital Campaign, which completed in March 2018. Anne’s warm, friendly personality makes her a perfect candidate to lead the Theatre’s fundraising goals because she truly cares about Tampa Theatre and its future. Her family has been attending movies and events at the Theatre for generations. She wants those memories to continue for future Tampa residents and visitors. She has tirelessly worked to keep the momentum going for the Restoration Campaign and has honored and celebrated those in our community that have stepped up to support this restoration. Each nonprofit organization needs a hero or heroine like Anne Pittman who helps spread the word about the wonderful work the Tampa Theatre does and the role that it serves in our community.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Dan Reskow is my idol ! I’ve been utterly impressed by Mr. Reskow’s commitment in volunteering since I became the Volunteer Manager for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, in Sarasota 3 years ago. Daniel W. Reskow started volunteering in early 2007 and 11 years later he has accumulated very impressive 7 thousand hours, making him a Top 10 volunteer in terms of hours every single year for the past decade. In 2018 alone he has already given the Gardens 600 hours. Worth adding that Mr. Reskow is now an energetic 81 year gentleman. And gentleman he is indeed, volunteering graciously at Galas, looking dapper in his tuxedo, but mostly excelling as a bonafide handyman, extraordinary jack of all trades in our Facilities Department. As a retired design engineer for a major plastic manufacturer, Dan is happy not be sitting at a desk anymore, but out and about, fixing whatever needs to be taken care of, building and tiling the new butterfly release cage, painting walls, shortening legs on stools used in the Kids Corner and so much more. His electrical, plumbing, carpentry and construction skills make him an essential and highly important and regarded part of the Selby team of staff and volunteers. Often during his tenure he has been the sole volunteer of that department carrying his duties with gusto and a great sense of humor. His supervisor Mark Elliott, Director of Facilities & Security, has much admiration and appreciation for Dan because “Dan is reliable, knowledgeable, independent, project oriented and just a super nice guy”. Marie Selby Gardens relies heavily on its 600+ volunteer group and there is no volunteer like Daniel Reskow. We are ever so glad he chose, 11 years ago, the Gardens to dedicate his time and enthusiasm.

FOOT Foundation

Dino and Lisa Scanio exemplify and, in fact, have redefined what volunteerism means. Over a period of 10 years and, I am sure, thousands of hours of volunteering, Mr. and Mrs. Scanio have dedicated their time towards helping others through their own foundation! This husband and wife, the DYNAMIC DUO, are truly amazing people, but more importantly, their ability to raise awareness is inspirational. These two remarkable people have brought about an awareness to Mitochondrial Disease and an attention to Orthotics/Prosthetics with their humanitarian clinics, into the eye of the Tampa Bay community. This awareness even traveled to Washington D.C. when both, Dino and his son, spoke before the legislators about the Mitochondrial Disease and the need to find a cure. They have been through so much that lending a helping hand has no limits, geographical boundaries, religionist barriers or ethnic restrictions. The Scanio’s have an ability to captivate your attention through their efforts and their passion to help others through the FOOT Foundation. If you do not trust the words in this nomination, do visit their website ( and see for yourself. This couple has inspired people of all ages. There are children who are annually setting up lemonade stands and running sock drives benefiting the FOOT Foundation which proves that the Scanio’s are making a difference. I have seen, firsthand, this astonishing couple advocate for children and adults with special needs. I have always been wowed by how they can take a few dollars and improve SO MANY lives. It is truly baffling as to how we, as a community, have let this couple go unrecognized. They are the champions of Tampa! Dino and Lisa Scanio live for their tagline, “Improving Lives, One Person at a Time”

Starting Right, Now (SRN)

“We should write a law,” Sergio says. Sergio, a Starting Right, Now (SRN) student can’t access his birth certificate because his mother refuses to provide them. Even though they live apart, her consent is required. Without this paperwork, he can’t get a job or state ID, can’t access health insurance, and can’t apply to college. Vicki tells Sergio writing a law is a creative idea, but not practical. Sergio attended 17 different high schools! His family moves cities after every eviction. Sergio is determined to be the first to graduate. He knows if he moves again, he will flunk out of school. His social worker refers him to SRN. Months after Sergio’s lawmaking suggestion, Vicki notices a flyer at a school promoting Representative Ambler’s program, “Oughta Be A Law.” With SRN’s help, Sergio presents his idea. Next thing Vicki knows, Sergio and she are in Tallahassee testifying before the House of Representatives. That year, the law passes and Unaccompanied Youth (UY) can obtain their identification documents without parental consent, statewide. This ensures they are not dead-ended. SRN has drafted three other state laws to protect UY: right to emancipation with no trial costs, access to Food Stamps/Medicaid without parental consent, and right to consent to their own medical/mental healthcare. SRN ends the generational cycle of homelessness for youth, investing resources, opportunities, and attention into individual children. This service now includes advocacy to protect them. We are currently producing a podcast with WEDU PBS for our students to share their experiences as homeless UY. What began as care for a single student is now the revision of legislature and broadcasting of their voice. What started in Vicki’s home is now a refuge for UY statewide – a testament to how small acts of kindness can have far-reaching repercussions.

The Seventh Mom Project, Inc.

I am nominating the amazing volunteer board of The Seventh Mom Project, Inc. for bringing awareness of the prevalence and affects of Maternal Mood Disorders to the people of Tampa Bay. Not only have they leveraged some amazing social media campaigns like the #holdtheumbrella photos of facebook and Instagram or the #Momsrock rock painting outreach but they have even gotten the attention and built relationships with members of the medical and social service communities furthering the education about maternal mood disorders. As an example, at the time the name was written on the documents for an organization, 1 in 7 women were being diagnosed with postpartum depression, so the name fit. Now 3 years later thanks to more area women’s health providers performing routine screening for maternal mood disorder, we know the new number is 1 in 5. The grass roots efforts of this group of women is working and saving lives! Doctors and Midwives who previously had minimal training in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are now screening, referring and even treating women who otherwise may have slipped through the cracks and become another statistic. Hospitals and birth centers are now offering support groups geared specifically toward women experiencing maternal mood disorders thanks to the persistence of these ladies when there were no groups to be found. This small group of volunteers has managed to connect over 100 women and families to treatment resources for postpartum depression and anxiety all on their own volunteered time and utilizing their own donated skills. Elizabeth, Rebecca, Emily, Cat, Dee, Shnai, Kelly, Bethany, Maret, Crystal and Lauren are involved in maternal health, mental health, parenting, faith, and social wellness communities each inspiring each other and others outside of their small yet powerful and empowering organization to be more for other mothers because #momsmatter.

Tampa Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.

The Tampa Alumnae Chapter,, of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, is comprised of over 200 members who are engaged in a wide array of public service programs, and community mentoring projects. This organization first began to impact the youth of Hillsborough County over 70 years ago. The major programs of the chapter are based upon the organization’s Five-Point Programmatic Thrust.: • Economic Development, • Educational Development, • International Awareness and Involvement, • Physical and Mental Health, • Political Awareness and Involvement Members serve as mentors to over 100 youth who participate in the three education development programs. The Delta Academy for young females (ages 11-14) augments their scholarship in math, science, and technology. A primary goal of the program is to prepare young girls for full participation as leaders in the 21st Century. Delta GEMS was created to catch the dreams of African-American at-risk, adolescent girls aged 14-18. The Delta GEMS program offers a road map for college and career planning through activities that provide opportunities for self-reflection and individual growth. EMBODI, for middle and high school males, is designed to address these issues through dialogue and recommendations for change and action. EMBODI addresses issues related to STEM education, culture, self-efficacy, leadership, physical and mental health, healthy lifestyle choices, character, ethics, relationships, college readiness, fiscal management, civic engagement and service learning. In conjunction with Delta Inc., over $100,000 in scholarships and book stipends have been awarded to qualifying high school seniors graduating from Hillsborough County public, private, charter and parochial schools. I proudly nominate the Tampa Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc for this prestigious award.

Music Sweet Music, Inc.

Theodore Wagner founded Music Sweet Music, Inc. (MSM, Inc.) in 2001 to provide continued free outreach to hospitalized children using music as a form of medicine. Wagner has brought outstanding leadership, and constant work addressing and raising awareness about the need of Music Therapy in the Tampa Bay community and in many ways exceeding the challenging requirements and expectations for the Involved Mason Dixon award. Wagner’s ambition, intelligence and accomplishments over the last few years complement the stellar community of past recipients bestowed the title. Ted volunteers 35-45 weekly and has never received compensation. MSM currently contracts three Board Certified Music Therapists (MT-BC) who work with participants in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Each therapist follows professional standards in the delivery of service including the assessment of needs and strengths, setting non-musical goals which produce physical, mental and emotional improvements in our participants, planning and leading therapeutic sessions and communicating with other healthcare professionals and participant family members. Wagner strives to utilize every available “pulpit” in his efforts to raise awareness about this issue. He has presented programs about Music Therapy at St. Petersburg College, churches and to various social groups and clubs throughout the Tampa Bay Area. With the continued success of MSM, Inc. serving the community and as a tribute to his mother who introduced him to music, community service and who also benefited from music therapy during the later years of her life due to dementia, Wagner has now expanded his outreach to older adults. Today, MSM has over 1,500 interventions with hospitalized and outpatient children and adults annually. Through fundraisers and donations, MSM is funding and providing Music Therapy programs at John Hopkins’ All Children’s Hospital Outpatient Speech Language and Pathology Department in St. Petersburg, St. Joseph’s and Shriner’s Children’s Hospitals in Tampa and in patient’s homes.

Julie Weintraub’s Hands Across the Bay

Julie Weintraub founded Hands Across the Bay in 2010 for the purpose of providing stabilization to families in crisis to no fault of their own. She takes each individual under her “mama bear” wings and guides them back on the road to success and independence, emotionally and financially. Julie’s volunteer work doesn’t stop there. Many of the families she takes under her wings have fallen victim to domestic violence or horrific assault. Julie stands next to these survivors in court as they fight for life sentences for their abusers. She spends many days and nights encouraging these families and giving them the guidance and support needed to courageously face their abusers in court. If she is not advocating along side domestic violence survivors in court, she is trying to change laws as how our society views violence as a whole. She is passionate and will not back down until our world has a different view on violence, especially against women. Another passion of Julie’s is her Random Acts of Kindness Program where Hands Across the Bay “Kindness Warriors” spread love, kindness, and positivity back into our community. She loves to bring smiles to perfect strangers’ faces to remind them that someone, somewhere in this world cares about them and their ability to overcome any obstacles. She goes out of her way to pay for someone’s coffee or hand out supplies during hurricane preparation. Her goal is to bring positivity back into everyday. Julie is able to do all of this volunteer work because of her and her husband, Steve’s kind and charitable hearts. Together they own Gold & Diamond Source, which donates Hands Across The Bay’s office space and two employee salaries! All of Julie’s time dedicated assisting the families touched by Hands Across the Bay is 100% volunteered.

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