Judging by the smiling faces and plates piled high with specialty omelets, pastries and bagels, the latest Hope Fund Breakfast & Bingo was a big success.
“We raised $1,200 and got three new volunteers,” said Carla Miles, president and founder of The Hope Fund, a nonprofit organization serving at-risk children in Wimauma.
“These kids need a safe place to be after school,” said Miles, a retired teacher. “They need tutoring for their language skills and comprehension.”
Board member Roselyn Cruthis agrees.
“Without this kind of program these children would be home alone,” she said. “They receive one-on-one attention when they’re with a volunteer, which helps them build confidence and self-esteem.”
The Hope Fund works in partnership with the Redlands Christian Migrant Association and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation to provide a variety of after-school services for kids ages 5-12. These include tutoring, mentoring, art education, sex and drug awareness education and a Kids Marathon running program.
RCMA runs the basic after-school program five days per week with a paid staff. The county provides free use of the buildings and grounds at Bethune Park, Wimauma Senior Center, its annex and the Wimauma Community Center to accommodate the growing number of kids in the program, it and pays the utilities. The Hope Fund provides the assistance of more than 50 volunteers, who meet with the children one hour per week from November through April.
It also provides scholarship funding for RCMA’s summer program, which amounts to $20,000 this year, Miles said. Currently the Hope Fund provides tuition assistance to 99 percent of the children in RCMA’s after-school and summer programs. It also funds field trips and enrichment activities during the school year and summer and a Kids Café, which provides healthy snacks.
The Hope Fund’s primary financial support comes from grants — specifically targeted for the children at Bethune Park — awarded by the Community Foundation of Greater Sun City Center and the Interfaith Council of Sun City Center and donations from the local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Beth Israel Jewish Congregation, Prince of Peace Catholic Women and United Community Church.
Proceeds from the April 20 event and another to be held Nov. 9 offer an additional funding source.
For more information on the Hope Fund or to make a donation, call Miles at (813) 645-4268 or visit www.The-Hope-Fund.org.