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Pinellas Hope Service Day

Students painting picnic tables

(August 26, 2013) — For the second year, USF's MBA in Sport & Entertainment Management has teamed up with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Majestic Athletic to organize a day of service at Pinellas Hope, a tent shelter for the homeless in Clearwater. About 150 students and other volunteers worked alongside residents sorting donations, mulching, painting, scrubbing, and clearing outdoor areas.

The shelter is a part of Catholic Charities' Shelters of Hope program, which serves more than 1,700 units of housing in the area. About 300 of those units are at Pinellas Hope, which helps residents transition from homelessness with GED and other adult education classes, clothing donations, and assistance in finding employment.

"It's our biggest service day of the year, and it looks like this year's turnout is our biggest yet," said Jim Geary, program manager at Pinellas Hope. "This annual service day keeps us afloat, we wouldn't be able to do what we do without these volunteers."

Students spreading mulch

The shelter was awarded the Tampa Bay Lightning's Community Hero Award for 2011-2012. "We're delighted to give financially, but even more delighted to have a big force out here today helping. Our players volunteer, we volunteer, we want this to be a part of what we do, which is why we've partnered with like-minded organizations like USF's College of Business," said Elizabeth Frazier, vice president of philanthropy and community initiatives for the Lightning.

The MBA in Sport & Entertainment Management is the result of a 2012 partnership between USF, its College of Business, and the Lightning to create an industry-specific program and develop opportunities for student internships in the field. Volunteering alongside Lightning and Majestic employees is a natural extension of that partnership.

"Volunteerism is not only a huge part of our program but of the sports community itself," said student Katie Hatch. "It's a big part of what teams do, so it's preparing us for what we'll be in for in the future as well."

Derrick Hutek, another Sport MBA student, agrees that this sentiment reflects a big part of what the program represents. The sports industry relies on communities to support their franchises, and in turn has an opportunity to give something back.

"You're dealing with paying customers in the sports industry, and people like those in Pinellas Hope don't have that opportunity so this is a way to reach out to people we wouldn't ordinarily get to interact with," he said.