Representatives from four local non-profit organizations joined Glazer Family Foundation Co-President Darcie Glazer Kassewitz (center) on Monday to receive grants for their programs
A few years ago, before a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game at Raymond James Stadium, a group of children from the Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf joined the national anthem singer on the field to provide the signed version that has become a tradition.
The experience made life-long fans out of the kids from Blossom, as well as the school's associate director, Carol Downing. It also gave Downing an idea when it came time to concentrate on the never-ending job of raising funds for a non-profit organization.
The Glazer Family, owners of the Buccaneers since 1995, established a charitable foundation in 1999. As Downing knew, the Glazer Family Foundation is dedicated to providing assistance to local charitable and educational causes, and is also particularly motivated to aid organizations that help youth and families. In her efforts to help the school construct a new playground and provide sporting goods to the preschool, she applied to the Glazer Family Foundation for a grant.
On Monday, Glazer Family Foundation Co-President Darcie Glazer Kassewitz provided four local non-profit organizations – including Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf – with grants totaling over $15,000. The other organizations who joined Blossom in sending representatives to One Buccaneer Place on Monday to receive grants were Dawn Center, Hemophilia Foundation of Greater Florida and Sydney's Angels for Autism, Inc.
Seven visitors in total joined Glazer Kassewitz at a private luncheon after accepting checks from the Foundation aimed at specific programs or initiatives.
"The Glazer Family Foundation is proud to support organizations that are dedicated to giving back to those less fortunate," said Glazer Kassewitz. "These programs work hard to enhance the lives of individuals who face daily challenges. The Glazer Family Foundation is thankful to be able to assist these groups that play such an important role in our community."
Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf educates deaf and hard of hearing children, their siblings and children of deaf adults, preparing them for a lifetime of success in the community. Their grant will be used to overhaul the preschool playground in order to comply with safety standards and provide appropriate structures for students aged 3-6 years old. It will also provide sporting equipment for the Sports Club, which caters to the program's older children.
Dawn Center in Hernando County serves all victims of domestic and sexual violence, including men, victims of elder abuse, adult victims of childhood abuse and victims of teen dating violence. Their grant will aid in the purchase of computer and sporting equipment. The computers and sporting goods will play an integral part in an eight-week program that focuses on healthy relationships.
The Hemophilia Foundation of Greater Florida works to improve the quality of life for people with bleeding disorders and their families through education, information and referral services, advocacy and research. They will use their new funds to support medical equipment and medic alert identification programs. The grant will purchase a wide range of medical equipment for people with bleeding disorders.
Sydney's School for Autism provides educational services to children with autism and similar disorders. The school is the first of its kind in Hillsborough County and is dedicated to providing each child with an individualized program involving a therapist to student ratio of 1:1. The grant will go towards the installation of modern playground equipment and safe, non-edible heat-resistant flooring.
All of the organization representatives on hand Monday were thrilled that the Foundation grants would help them continue their important work in the local community.
"This grant is an investment in the happiness of children, and I don't think there's a better purpose for it," said Downing. "We come every day and we see them. Outside of our school they're deaf, but at our school they're just kids. This grant is an investment in them."
Brian McDonald, founder of the Hemophilia Foundation of Great Florida, echoed both Downing's appreciation as well as her fondness for the Buccaneers.
"It was phenomenal, number one because we love the Buccaneers, the organization and the Glazer Family Foundation," he said. "More importantly, it helps to fill in with the programs that we do, helping individuals. A lot of times we are the last resort when people come to us. They say, Ã¢â'¬ËœI need help to get this and no one else will help me.' You can put answers to their problems if you have funding, so this has been great."
The Glazer Family Foundation awards grants twice each year to West Central Florida programs focused on the health, safety, recreation and education of disadvantaged youth. In 2008, 11 non-profit organizations received grants through the biannual program. The grants are generally aimed at specific programs, such as the Blossom Montessori School's efforts to upgrade their playground.
"We are a small school with a big mission," said Downing. "The purpose for the grant was to let kids be kids. We want to give them a playground so they can just be kids and they don't have to be deaf, and a safe environment too, because we've got them of all ages. We need to make sure that everything is accessible and everything is safe for all the kids to enjoy themselves.
"When they run out of the back door of that school and they run to the playground, it's the coolest minute because they break free. There's no worries – they're just kids being kids."
Glazer Kassewitz called the biannual grants an opportunity for the Foundation to participate in the success of the organizations that made requests. While handing out the checks on Monday, she also passed along her heartfelt gratitude – shared by the Foundation and her entire family – to those selfless individuals who work tirelessly to improve the lives of others.
"It's just wonderful to see a group of such dedicated people here today," she told her lunch mates. "You're making a big difference in the lives of the people that come to you and that's just so important. Not everybody does that, and it warms our hearts. It's wonderful and we're so happy to be a part of what you're doing. Thank you so much for what you do."
The Glazer Family Foundation is dedicated to assisting charitable and educational causes in the West Central Florida region. The foundation aids established not-for-profit organizations that work with youth and families to help identify and create programs that support positive social and economic development within our communities. The Glazers, who own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, established the foundation in 1999. Since that time, the Glazer Family Foundation has given millions of dollars in programs, grants, tickets and merchandise to the Tampa Bay area. Most recently, the foundation donated $5 million toward the construction of a new children's museum in downtown Tampa, which will be named the Glazer Children's Museum. Visit www.GlazerFamilyFoundation.org for more information.