Representatives from 13 Bay area organizations gathered to receive grants from the Glazer Family Foundation
As the players at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp can tell you, these are the 'dog days' of summer.
That phrase took on a more literal sense at Wednesday morning's practice, when a half-dozen golden retrievers strolled onto the track surrounding the field at Pepin-Rood Stadium, accompanied by the same number of child trainers.
Why the canine presence? Added security? Frisbee dogs?
In fact, the retrievers and about 60 Bay area residents were on hand Wednesday morning for a far less sinister or silly reason. In fact, it was a celebration of the good work done daily by these visitors, and the part that the Glazer Family Foundation will play in their continued community service.
On Wednesday, at a press conference held at the edge of the Buccaneers' fourth training-camp practice, Executive Vice President Joel Glazer presented 13 Bay area organizations with donations totaling $25,000. It was the culmination of the first phase of the Glazer Family Foundations newly-formed Grant Program. The Program will accept applications and award grants in two phases each year.
"Today we kicked off our Grant Program," said Glazer. "There are so many different groups doing so many good things in this community, and we wanted to be able to help them out. This is our first time doing this for these wonderful people doing such great things in our community."
The retrievers were part of an organization called the Kids and Canine Program, which pairs kids who have truancy problems with dogs being trained to assist people with special needs. The kids in the program become the dogs' trainers, an extremely rewarding experience that serves as incentive to attend school.
"This grant will help us get more wheelchairs," said an appreciative Jennifer Wise, representative for Kids and Canines. "The kids have to train from a wheelchair because, of course, the dogs will be placed with people in wheelchairs. So we need more equipment, which is expensive, and this will help a lot."
The other 12 programs to receive grants from Glazer and the Glazer Family Foundation on Wednesday, all for specific projects, were:
Cease Fire Tampa/More Health Child Abuse Council Deaf Service Center of Pasco/Hernando Co. Francis House Happy Workers Children Center Improvement League of Plant City Judeo-Christian Health Clinic Northside Mental Health Center Self-Reliance, Inc. The St. Petersburg Free Clinic The Tampa Bay History Center Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center
The focus of the Grant Program is to support general health, safety, education and recreation for youth and families. The program will begin accepting applications for its second phase beginning September 15. Organizations wishing to apply for this phase can visit www.glazerfamilyfoundation.com for an application and guidelines.
"We had an advisory committee of people in the community that went through all of the applications (during the first phase)," said Glazer. "They were tough decisions, because there are so many deserving and good people out there. This is what they came to a consensus on. Again, we're going to be doing this twice a year, so a lot of people will get a chance to get involved on a regular basis."
As Glazer handed out checks and posed for photographs, the Buccaneers went on with practice about 50 yards away. Both on and off the field, there were obvious signs of progress.
"Our goal here," said Glazer, "is to have a winning team, have a winning team off the field and be winners in the community. I think if we accomplish all of those things, everyone's a winner."