A ballpark party with an upscale experience

L-R, Watson Haynes, Alex Glenn and Dr. Frank Biafora

BY JOYCE NANETTE JOHNSON, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The Pinellas County Urban League (PCUL) held their 38th annual Equal Opportunity Day Gala entitled “Sandals & Sequins” last Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Tropicana Field.

The evening was elegance with a twist, as attendees wore their best bib and tucker while sporting comfortable shoes. The event is one of PCUL’s most popular fundraisers, and it also serves to honor those who have given tirelessly of their time and talent to the organization.

The PCUL’s goal is to help people achieve economic stability through employment, home ownership and entrepreneurship. They ensure educational progress for our children and to safeguard civil rights.

The evening started with a VIP reception and silent auction that included a Louis Vuitton handbag, diamond jewelry and exotic vacation packages. Six serving stations with diverse cuisine from New Orleans seafood gumbo shooters, to Northern California vegetable spring rolls had the guest wishing they hadn’t worn such tight formal wear.

Erica Riggins from Bay News 9 kept the program moving with her vivacious personality as she held down the Mistress of Ceremony duties.

 “What we do during our working hours determines what we have; what we do in our leisure hours determines what we are,” Riggins said, quoting entrepreneur George Eastman.

That quote perfectly describes all the employees who work off the clock and all the volunteers who continue to make the PCUL a place where people can receive a hand up and not a handout.

Some program include the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Home Weatherization Assistance Program, Financial Empowerment Program, Career Connection, Adult GED programs, Youth and Family Wrap Around Services, Mobile Health Units and the Cohort Program for residents who are having difficulties entering the workforce because of a criminal background, basic writing and reading deficiencies or suffering with mental or substance abuse issues.

The invocation was given by the Rev. Dr. Glen Money of First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, and Dr. Frank Biafora, chairman of the Board of Directors for the PCUL gave the greeting.  Biafora spoke of the “holistic approach that PCUL uses in in improving the community, one person at a time.”

President and CEO of PCUL Rev. Watson L. Haynes, II gave an update on how community partners, such as Duke Energy with their Weatherization Program and Lema Construction helping build the city by using 40 percent of laborers from the community, have helped hundreds of residents.

“The PCUL programs are transforming lives in our community, said Jackie Baron, board member and chair of the gala. “It is through the generosity of our sponsors and donors that makes all of this possible.  We are so very grateful for their support.”

One such sponsor was Tech Data, who was instrumental in the development of PCUL’s computer lab, and updating its technology infrastructure.

“We look forward to our continued partnership,” stated Cal Jackson, director of Diversity and Inclusion at Tech Data.

Jose Brito, director of credit at Tech Data and a board member of PCUL praised the organization for their phenomenal work in the community, and jumped at the chance to serve when a board position opened up.

“Partnering with this organization fulfills my personal desire to give back to the community,” Brito said.

A few of the major sponsors include Duke Energy, Amscot, Valpak, Raymond James, Walmart, and the City of St. Petersburg.

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