Events and Programs

Match Up-2014

On the afternoon of August 14, 2014, the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships hosted a partnering event titled "Creating Partnerships: University-Community Match-Up." Nearly sixty enthusiastic participants, including representatives from a range of local community groups, USF faculty from a variety of disciplines along the full spectrum from arts to sciences, as well as leadership from student government crammed into the public meeting room at the Children's Board, eager to connect and find ways to partner.

During introductions, participants reiterated that they were there to network and connect with one another – and as a unique pleasure – those connections were taking place in person!

Justin Fitzgerald, Lena Young, and Rhonda Triplett-Coleman (front). Harold Keller and Jennifer Webb (back).

Justin Fitzgerald, Lena Young, and Rhonda Triplett-Coleman (front). Harold Keller and Jennifer Webb (back).

One by one as each participant stood to share his or her background, the energy was building. Introductions took longer than expected, because the room was brimming with talent and optimism. Everyone had clearly come together with a singular purpose, to leverage the knowledge and expertise shared by a coming together of researchers and local organizations to make our community better.

Dr. Robin Ersing, Associate Professor of Social Work, who has spent decades forming and maintaining community partnerships, gave a gift to potential community partners in asking them to speak to her about an "issue or problem that you'd like to study." And, as Teri Simpson, Director of Field Education in the School Social Work reiterated, "Without community engagement, we have no program."

Cate Hammer with Greater Tampa Community Emergency Response Team said she was there to "educate others in the community to take care of themselves and their families first and then take care of their community." Her organization offers free training to prepare residents for potential emergencies.

Cate Hammer and Elizabeth Dunn

Cate Hammer and Elizabeth Dunn

Carla Williams, Outreach Coordinator for HART said so many people "figure we are just a bus company, but we are mass transportation, and we do a lot of outreach."

Josh Hagg, Director of Partnership Development with Big Brothers Big Sisters said that USF is their biggest supplier of volunteers and continued, "We are anxious to keep working on expanding our volunteers."

Anna Lejnar and Debra Campbell

Anna Lejnar and Debra Campbell

Carol Josephs-Marshall, Ronnie McCullough, and Teri Simpson

Carol Josephs-Marshall, Ronnie McCullough, and Teri Simpson

Danielle Laughlin from United Way Suncoast who oversees a program for volunteers to help lower income clients prepare their taxes free of charge said that she "would like to say what Josh just said – that USF is our largest source for volunteers." And with that she threw down the gauntlet for USF to step up its game in sending volunteers Laughlin's way.

Michelle Bourgeois, Professor of Communications, Sciences, and Disorders, one of many who shared the variety of roles they play in the community and who also happens to be the Director of the local Special Olympics, declared, "How exciting it is to be in a room with people who wear so many different hats!"

Norma Robinson, Director of the Sulphur Springs Museum said that she wants to train students to serve as docents for the soon-to-open museum, because she wants to "teach them the good, the bad, and the beautiful of the area in which they live."

Dr. Dave Rogoff of the School of Public Health announced that he would be officially deemed "retired" by the end of the session after 35 years of service, but "even in retirement, I still intend to be active." And, Dr. Adewale Trautman, Associate Dean of the College of Public Health, declared that "health is a basic human right," and he would like his faculty to be involved in projects related to helping the community access medical care.

Two students from Student Government, Ashley Garcia, Director of Government Affairs, and Jeremy Redford, Director of Community Affairs, joined the group and said they were there to "make sure students are well-rounded when they graduate." Jeremy continued, "We want to make sure we partner with all of you to reflect not just our interests but the whole community."

Lena Young, Board Chair of the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association said, "make sure you can take advantage of this big asset [USF] that we have here in our community."

Jennifer Webb, Director of Community Partnerships, stated that she will be contacting all participants to follow up. Stay tuned for the next Creating Partnerships: University-Community Match-Up on Wednesday, October 29. We look forward to seeing you!

by Bonnie Silvestri, JD, Director of Strategic Communications