In a symbolic show of breaking down barriers, the Tampa Bay Rays’ mascot Raymond kicked aside a stack of blocks to open the new Campbell Park Resource Center.
The 9,000-square-foot facility offers resources and education to help lift people out of poverty, and to empower individuals and families to work toward long-term stability.
Hundreds of people turned out Saturday for a block party to launch of the center at the Johns Hopkins Middle School at 701 16th St. S. Many of the organizers and supporters of the new center were hailed as “superheroes” and wore capes and other costumes.
See a gallery of photos from the event below.
United Way Suncoast operated a financial empowerment center for the neighborhood for many years at a nearby location, on land provided by the City of St. Petersburg. The new center, operated by United Way Suncoast and managed by Jeffery Johnson, officially opened this weekend, about two years after the Duke Energy Foundation announced a $1 million grant to expand and increase capacity at that resource center.
“The Campbell Park Resource Center exemplifies one of the ways Duke Energy helps to power the lives of our communities,” said Catherine Stempien, president of Duke Energy Florida. “It’s been an important project for Duke Energy for many reasons, including the fact that St. Pete is home to our Florida headquarters. When we learned that a part of the community needed help, we knew we needed to use our corporate superpowers to do good here in St. Pete and in the Campbell Park area.”
The project has been several years in the making, said Carrie Zeisse, interim CEO, United Way Suncoast.
“To have this 9,000 square feet, to be able to open our doors to more partners and more services and more funding from donors, to make this an even stronger asset for the community, is truly exciting for us,” Zeisse said. “One thing United Way is committed to is making sure our work reflects your voice, the voice of the neighborhood, and that it brings all of us together to build on our resources and not to compete.”
As communities get stronger, schools get stronger, said Michael Grego, Pinellas County Schools superintendent.
The new center also will serve as a resource for neighborhoods outside of Campbell Park, said Mayor Rick Kriseman.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done here at Campbell Park Resource Center. We’ve touched hundreds, even thousands of lives. Today we are positioning ourselves to help many more,” Kriseman said.
Kriseman highlighted partnerships with the National League of Cities. St. Petersburg was one of five cities to participate in that organization’s LIFT-UP program, which allow city utilities to recoup lost revenue due to unpaid bills while connecting residents who are behind on their utility bills with financial empowerment services. It also was one of 32 members of the NLC’s 2017 Economic Mobility and Opportunity task force.
“I know the NLC views St. Petersburg as one of a handful of core cities that exemplifies how city leaders are building financial security for residents in innovative and creative ways,” Kriseman said.
Campbell Park Resource Center