Community celebrates 20th annual Family Fun Day

By Allen A. Buchanan, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – The City of St. Petersburg’s 20th Annual Family Fun Day Festival was held last Saturday, May 7 at the James B. Sanderlin Family Center. People of all ages came out to enjoy live entertainment, to find out about a variety of community services and to socialize while eating a freshly prepared lunch.

It all started in 1996 “as an event to bridge the gap between the south side community and the St. Petersburg Police Department,” said Janice Ford, Neighborhood Coordinator for Community Services Department with the city.

Looking back

The gap that Ford referred to was the civil unrest that broke out between the community and the police department on the early evening of Oct. 24, 1996, after 18-year-old TyRon Lewis was shot fatally three times for not stopping when the police asked. Riots and looting ensued as tensions hit the boiling over St. Pete’s sixth shooting of African-American males.

As the community struggled to come to terms with the police officer’s acquittal in November of that same year, many projects emerged to foster a better relationship between law enforcement, and to provide more job opportunities and training for young people south of downtown. One of those projects would be the Family Fun Day Festival.

Present day

“It brings together a lot of social agencies, churches and other organizations to disseminate information about the services they provide,” said Ford.

Greystone Healthcare Management was one of several dozen community service providers on hand to tell the community about their organization.

“We’re a long-term rehab care network facility,” said Joseph Mingione, regional director of operations, who also mentioned that they provide healthcare services.

Mingione was also there to recruit qualified new talent to join their team. He said they have nursing positions, certified nursing assistants, therapists, housekeeping, dietary aides, administrative and professional positions available.

“We’re looking for talented individuals to join our team,” he said.

Greystone Healthcare currently has four facilities in the Tampa Bay area with a total of 30 facilities in the state of Florida. Mingione said that people interested in applying for positions can contact them online at, or call (813) 373-9555.

For young people who may be entering the workforce for the first time, the Youth Un-Leashed Corp. was at the festival to inform parents and young adults on how to get work experience.

Youth Un-Leashed is a youth-building organization that provides a positive environment where young people can pursue on-the-job-training in a variety of careers available in the Tampa Bay area. Youth interested can contact Youth Un-Leashed Corp. online at


Young and gifted in the Burg!

Talent flows like water in St. Pete. Jordan Bolds, a 15-year-old tenor sax player floated through the notes of “Ribbon In the Sky” by Stevie Wonder like silk. The freshman from Northside Christian School played jaw-dropping jazz far beyond his years. Dr. Angela Bolds, Jordan’s mother, looked on with love and pride as she watched him perform two songs.

Adan Martinez, a viola player from Gibbs High School, preceded Bolds on stage with his steamy version of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” Both Bolds and Martinez represent a new wave of artistic excellence that is part of the St. Petersburg legacy of performing artists.

Community and law enforcement relations

“We need to start with our youth because the youth are our future,” said Major Matthew McKinney, District 1 Commander with the St. Petersburg Police Department (SPPD).

McKinney emphasized that he wants to see the community thrive, grow and be successful just as much as the residents do.

“We want to work together to develop those relationships within the community so that when we need to do something or the community needs to do something, we’re there as a resource and we’re not look at as an agency in an adversarial position,” he said. “This is all about customer service! Although we’re here to keep the peace, we also want to look at community quality of life issues.”

Officer Vaughn Murphy has been with SPPD since 2007 and he believes that a good relationship with the community is definitely within reach if an equal investment is made.

“Like any relationship, it has to be from both sides,” said Murphy. “Both sides have to put in that effort.”

Overall, the dominating theme for this year’s festival was services for all, and for all services are provided.

“The James B. Sanderlin Center is a jewel because it offers so many services to our community,” said Ford.

To reach Allen Buchanan, email

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