Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay seeks LGBTQ mentors

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay will hold a Pride Bowling event on June 9 to simultaneously raise funds for youth and awareness that LGBTQ volunteers are welcome in the non-profit’s mentorship program.

The event follows a nationwide initiative focusing on LGBTQ inclusion for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which at over 100 years old remains the nation’s largest volunteer-supported mentoring network. The non-profit exists to make meaningful matches between adults and at-risk youth, respectively known as “Bigs” and “Littles.”

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Straz Center gets grant; Over 3,500 students to benefit

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | The Straz Center for the Performing Arts has announced its acquisition of a $20,000 grant from The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay to help bring the arts to the area’s disadvantaged students.

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay is a partnership between donors, nonprofits, community leaders, businesses, volunteers and businesses. During their fiscal year of 2017, they awarded $10.3 million in grants to qualifying organizations in Tampa Bay.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Darden Rice, St. Petersburg City Council Chair

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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“When I first ran in 2005, I was openly, unapologetically attacked for being gay,” Darden Rice, the first out candidate for public office in Pinellas County recalls. “But today… more and more, the public sees our issues as everyday issues that any American faces.”

That’s in part because of candidates and public officials like Rice. In November of this year, after a successful term in which she served as St. Petersburg’s City Council Chair, she garnered 72.64 percent of the vote to win her bid for re-election. That’s an impressive 41,914 votes to her opponent’s 15,786.

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Hillsborough, Pinellas special needs and general shelters to open ahead of Irma

By : Jeremy Williams
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Hillsborough County is issuing a voluntary evacuation for special-needs residents located in Evacuation Zone A starting Friday, Sept. 8, at 8 a.m. Two shelters will be opened to accommodate special-needs residents only. Residents can confirm evacuation zones at HCFLGov.net/StaySafe or call (813) 272-5900.

Hillsborough County strongly urges special-needs residents to observe to the voluntary evacuation notice.

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Pride Marches On: St. Pete Pride celebrates diversity in the ‘Burg with a year of firsts

By : Jeremy Williams
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ST. PETERSBURG – After all the controversy over the changes St. Pete Pride brought this year, it all seemed to be put aside for Pride weekend as thousands gathered along Bayshore Drive for the city’s first Pride parade downtown.

The Pride parade, the largest in the state, began with the first ever TransPride March along the parade route. More than 500 participants walked, starting from the end of the official parade route at Albert Whitted Park to the parade’s starting point at Vinoy Park, as watchers waved trans flags and shouted support to those walking.

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An EPIC Taking: Joy Winheim now manages the largest HIV/AIDS service provider in the Tampa Bay area as EPIC’s executive director

By : Jeremy Williams
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Sometimes being remarkable can be bittersweet. Francis House announced this year that they would be merging with AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) under the umbrella of Empath Health. This new organization, Empath Partners in Care (EPIC), would be headed by Francis House’s previous executive director Joy Winheim.

“When we were first approached [by ASAP], we thought there is no way we’re doing this, we don’t need to do it,” Winheim says. “We had plenty of grant money. We’re doing well you know, we have 800 clients. We’re not having any issues so why would we think about this.”

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2016 World AIDS Day events round-up

By : Watermark Staff
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The 28th Annual World AIDS Day is Dec. 1. From the early morning hours of that day at the YMCA in Ocala to the not-as-early morning hours of Saturday’s AIDS Walk in St. Pete, the community will be honoring the memories and celebrating the lives of those impacted by HIV/AIDS.

World AIDS Day is held on the first of December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.

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[Update] Deadline to register to vote in the presidential election is Weds., Oct. 12… Do it!

By : Billy Manes
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We’ll hold back on the locker-room banter motif that defined a weekend that was likely to be blown away by mass destruction via Hurricane Matthew. What’s more important, especially after watching last night’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, is that you are engaged in a manner that can make a difference.

Following a request by the Clinton campaign to extend voter registration in order to make up for days lost at home during a natural disaster, our favorite (not favorite) Gov. Rick Scott has refused said extension. Wonder why? Google “Voter Suppression.”

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Tampa Bay HIV/AIDS service organizations ASAP, Francis House to merge

By : Jeremy Williams
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Empath Health announced that AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) and Hillsborough County’s Francis House will merge in order to expand the HIV/AIDS services available to the Tampa Bay region.

The two non-profits signed an initial Memorandum of Understanding and will operate under a newly-named member of Empath Health.

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Executive director William Harper steps down after 20 years with AIDS Service Association of Pinellas

By : Jeremy Williams
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St. Petersburg – William Harper of AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP) will be stepping down as executive director as he approaches 20 years with the organization.

Harper, who started with ASAP in May 1996, says that it has been a great opportunity for him to work for such an amazing organization, but that after two decades, it is time to move on.

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Watermark’s 2014 General Election recommendations for Tampa Bay

By : Staff Report
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Governor: Charlie Crist (D)

Attorney General: George Sheldon (D)

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Man gets 6 months for 2013 St. Pete Pride BB shooting

By : Wire Report
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Clearwater – A Tampa Bay man has been sentenced to six months in jail for shooting a gay man with a BB gun during a gay pride parade last summer.

A Pinellas County judge sentenced 21-year-old Cornelius Davis on April 30. He pleaded guilty to felony battery. He initially faced a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

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