24Mar/20

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay Offers VIRTUAL Big Orientation & Trainings

Join us as a defender of potential by becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister and together, we can change the world. All it takes is 4-8 hours a month, depending on the program, with a focus on being consistent and spending one-to-one quality time with your Little. Let’s clear a path to a child’s biggest possible future. Learn more about becoming a Big.

The first step is to attend a Big Orientation & Training session where you’ll learn about our programs, commitments, expectations and our kids.

Due to recent recommendations from the CDC to practice social distancing, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay has decided to cancel our in-person community Big Orientation & Trainings for the remainder of the month of March and host VIRTUAL Big Orientation & Trainings instead!

Tuesdays Thursdays
March 17: 5:30-7 p.m. March 19: noon-1:30 p.m.
March 24: 5:30-7 p.m. March 26: noon-1:30 p.m.
March 31: 5:30-7 p.m. April 2: 6:30-8 p.m.
April 7: 5:30-7 p.m. April 9: 3:30-5 p.m.
Apr14: 5:30-7 p.m. April 16: 5:30- 7 p.m.

How to participate in the GoToMeeting Virtual Orientation:

  1. Go to https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/538754421
  2. You will need to log in using your laptop or PC.
  3. You will be asked to “Open the GoTo Opener.” Click on “Cancel.”
  4. You will be asked how you would like to join the meeting. Click on “Join on the Web.”
  5. You may be asked if GoTo can use your camera. Click on “Allow.”
  6. You may be told how you will appear on the Administrator’s screen. Click on “OK I’m ready.”
  7. You may see a box that says “You are Muted.” To unmute your computer, click on the red microphone icon.

You will then be able to hear and to speak to Heather Castle, the host of our Orientation & Training. Heather will send a message asking for your contact information so that, following the orientation, she can e-mail you electronic copies of our application and our pre-interview questionnaire. We will also need that information to contact you about arranging for your in-person interview.

For questions or concerns, please reach out to Heather Castle at 813-440-8192 or HeatherC@bbbstampabay.org 

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24Mar/20

Free 24/7 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Telephone Emotional Support provided through Peace River Center’s Crisis Response Team

Polk County, Fla., March 20, 2020 – The outbreak of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stressful for many people.  Coping with stress, fear and anxiety about the disease and its effects on your health, your job, and your loved ones can be overwhelming.  Peace River Center, a community behavioral health provider, has partnered with Polk County’s Health & Human Services Division, to expand emotional assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Services are available through PRC’s already existing Crisis Response Team.  This partnership allows PRC to offer trained behavioral health counselors who can assist anyone experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, trauma and grief due to the current health crisis. You can reach our 24-Hour Crisis Response Team, now available for Emotional Support, by calling 863-519-3744 or toll free 800-627-5906.

“PRC’s Crisis Response Team will help individuals experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, trauma and grief due to the health crisis or for other reasons. We all know that medical problems and specifically the coronavirus, can cause substantial anxiety as we all worry about the health of their loved ones and ourselves.  As part of our ongoing support of the communities we serve, our free Crisis Response Team is available to assist individuals, in Polk County and beyond, who are feeling overwhelmed to help cope with their worries,” said Bill Gardam, President/CEO, Peace River Center.

Trained staff are available to speak to anyone experiencing additional stress and or anxiety due to the current health crisis, free of charge. Additionally, staff will be able to connect individuals with additional resources available through PRC’s wide-array of services or any other community based services available, if needed.

“This free service will allow us to provide immediate emotional support to individuals feeling worried and uncertain about what’s happening right now.  We know that there is a lot of anxiety, fears among our citizens and we want to provide support and connect to immediate services if needed,” said Joy Johnson, Relations Administrator, Polk County, Health & Human Services Division.

About Peace River Center

Peace River Center is a licensed and accredited, non-profit provider of mental health, substance use and integrated medical services serving Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. Peace River Center provides options for people struggling with mental health and addiction, for children and adults coping with the trauma of abuse and violence, crisis intervention for people in acute need, and housing and community support and integration for people affected by domestic violence or whose recovery requires more support and time. Peace River Center offers inpatient, outpatient, home-, school- and community-based services, telehealth and mobile programs to individuals, groups and families. Peace River Center’s dedicated and compassionate staff of more than 400 operate 36 programs out of 27 locations and provide 24/7 emergency psychiatric response services to the community through our mobile psychiatric Crisis Response Team. In FY2019, Peace River Center had contact with and provided services to more than 22,000 children, adolescents, adults and seniors. For more information visit www.PeaceRiverCenter.org.

24Mar/20

Peace River Center Welcomes Dr. Jean Tropnas and Briane Olson, APRN

Lakeland, FL – Peace River Center, a non-profit behavioral health and victim services organization that serves more than 22,000 individuals every year, is pleased to announce Dr. Jean Tropnas and Briane Olson, APRN have joined the organization.

Dr. Jean Baptiste Tropnas is a Board Certified Psychiatrist, with extensive experience working in outpatient, inpatient and community mental health settings. Prior to joining Peace River Center, Dr. Tropnas was clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York, and founder of the Haitian-American Psychiatric Association.  Dr. Tropnas is a native of Haiti and came to the United States in 1971.  He received the Profile of Courage Award from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 2011 in honor of his efforts to bring mental health services to the people of Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck that impoverished island and took the life of his sister.

Dr. Tropnas received his medical degree from State University Medical School and Hospital in Haiti. He completed his Pediatric Residency at Eliazar Germain Medical Center in Haiti and his Psychiatric Residency Training Program at Kings County Hospital/Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York.

Briane Olson is a Psychiatric Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) providing psychiatric services to children, adolescents and adults at PRC’s Outpatient Psychiatric Services based in Bartow and through the use of telehealth at PRC’s Avon Park and Wauchula locations. Prior to joining PRC Olson worked as an APRN/Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Cloud Peak Counseling Center and Wyoming Boys’ School in Wyoming. Her preceptorship was completed in rural community mental health settings, juvenile correctional facilities and long term mental health care facilities across the state of Wyoming.


About Peace River Center

Peace River Center is a licensed and accredited, non-profit provider of mental health, substance use and integrated medical services serving Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. Peace River Center provides options for people struggling with mental health and addiction, for children and adults coping with the trauma of abuse and violence, crisis intervention for people in acute need, and housing and community support and integration for people affected by domestic violence or whose recovery requires more support and time. Peace River Center offers inpatient, outpatient, home-, school- and community-based services, telehealth and mobile programs to individuals, groups and families. Peace River Center’s dedicated and compassionate staff of more than 400 operate 36 programs out of 27 locations and provide 24/7 emergency psychiatric response services to the community through our mobile psychiatric Crisis Response Team. In FY2019, Peace River Center had contact with and provided services to more than 22,000 children, adolescents, adults and seniors. For more information visit www.PeaceRiverCenter.org.

23Mar/20

SPCA Florida 28th Annual Walk for Animals Fundraiser Gone Virtual

Lakeland, Florida – In light of recent health concerns regarding COVID-19, SPCA Florida is converting our 28th Annual Walk for Animals to a VIRTUAL walk.

For nearly three decades, Walk for Animals has been an important fundraising event for SPCA Florida. However, with the spread of COVID-19 and the State’s request to limit mass gatherings, going Virtual is in line with keeping our community safe and healthy.

Participation and fundraising for the Walk for Animals helps SPCA Florida care for more than 5,000 homeless cats and dogs each year and provides affordable medical treatment to more than 68,500 animals annually. “We count on our Walker’s to help us with first quarter animal expenses each year, ” said Shelley Thayer, Executive Director. “We are hoping they will rally, walk virtually, and help us with the 300+ animals in our care.”

Join or form a team with co-workers, friends and family, or join as an individual walker and start raising money TODAY to help support our organization’s many programs that benefit the community.

The Virtual Walk for Animals will take you around the lake with a dog of your choice, stopping along the way to visit Sponsors, Vendors and get your Passport stamped for prizes!  It’s something the entire family can do! There is a lot of fun in store that will ultimately help care for our furry friends.

Registration fee is $35 per person and great prizes are awarded to top fundraisers! A T-shirt is included, PLUS a dog bandana.

The Walk for Animals is made possible by generous sponsors and donors including Anne Watkins, North County Dermatology Clinic, Stahl & Associates Insurance, Pansler Law Firm, Hills Pet Nutrition, Fields Auto Group, Patterson, WBF Classic Hits, PGTV, Hall Communications and many more.

Register so you and your furry friend can start raising money for the homeless animals today!

For more information about registering for the Walk for Animals or vendor or sponsorship opportunities, visit https://www.spcaflorida.org/walkforanimals2020/ or call (863) 577-4607. 

About SPCA Florida

Founded in 1979, SPCA Florida is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in Lakeland. Dedicated to improving the lives of pets and people in the community, SPCA Florida provides caring, compassion and hope to more than 6,000 homeless animals entering our doors each year. Open to the public, our McClurg Animal Medical Center is a state-of-the-art veterinary facility that heals and helps 50,000 patients annually. Thousands more pets and people are served through our community outreach and education programs.

20Mar/20

Bridge Loan Applications For Small Businesses to Be Submitted Locally

Florida SBDC at USF Administers Loans in 10-county Tampa Bay region 

TAMPA (March 20, 2020) – The Florida SBDC at University of South Florida is facilitating the application process for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, for all small businesses in the Tampa Bay region.

The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, activated by Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday, March 16, is available to small businesses in Florida that are experiencing economic damage as a result of COVID-19.

“We understand the urgency surrounding the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program,” Eileen Rodriguez, regional director of the Florida SBDC at USF, said. “We are here to help and will work with small business owners as quickly as possible, as we are experiencing a high volume of inquiries right now.”

The Florida SBDC at USF is accepting applications for the following counties: Desoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota.

To qualify, applicants must be for-profit, privately held small businesses that maintain a place of business in Florida. Businesses must also be an employer with 2 to 100 employees. Loans are interest-free for one year. Businesses can qualify for up to $50,000 in most instances. Applications will be accepted through May 8.

The Florida SBDC at USF is available to answer questions and assist small business owners in submitting applications. Loan decisions are made by an independent committee made up of economic development and finance professionals from within the region. Financing is provided by the state of Florida using public funds. The state is also working diligently to make an online application available as well.

Due to the overwhelming response to the opening of the bridge loan program, we are asking small businesses to take the following steps:

  1. Review eligibility requirements and loan process.
  2. Register with the SBDC by following this link. https://sbdctampabay.com/schedule-consultant/
  3. Download, complete and sign the application form.
  4. Gather required support documentation.
  5. Submit completed and signed application and support documentation to USF@FloridaSBDC.org .

Applications missing supporting documents are considered incomplete and will only delay the process. Once these steps are completed, we will be able to assign a consultant to process the application package.

It is important to note that only one method of submission is required, and the most expedited option is going to submit applications and any other inquiries via an email to USF@floridasbdc.org.

For additional qualifications, details and updates, please visit us online at SBDCTampaBay.com/coronavirus.

As a principal responder in the state’s Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 for Business & Industry, the Florida SBDC Network is a key economic development organization that supports disaster preparedness, recovery, and mitigation through its Business Continuation services.

About the Florida SBDC Network: 

For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy. Since 2011, Florida SBDCs have provided 624,331 hours of professional business consulting to 58,975 client businesses, resulting in 281,831 jobs impacted; $36.7 billion in sales generated; $2.7 billion in government contracts acquired; $1.6 billion in capital accessed; and 4,520 new businesses started. A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.