Community choir embraces Melrose Elementary

BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — The Spirit of Tampa Bay Community Choir (STBCC) hosted their Haute To Trot benefit gala at the Isla Del Sol Yacht & Country Club Dec 17 to help support Melrose Elementary School. STBCC adopted the elementary school as their community project three years ago to help faculty and administration overcome some of the barriers that impede student success.

Several thousand dollars in supplies and school uniforms have been donated to the school from members of STBCC. Melrose Principal Nanette Grasso and her team members were touched deeply as several men brought in boxes of supplies for their students.

The school, located at 1752 13th Ave. S, is home to a student population of almost 90 percent African American. The majority, if not all, of students receive free or reduced lunch.

“It is probably the highest poverty school in all of Pinellas County,” said Grasso.

Not only do choir members give monetary donations, they also give of their time. “Some of our choir members do volunteer at the school as well,” said Dr. Yvonne Williams, founder of the choir and Mistress of Ceremonies.

In addition to the Melrose presentation, Rev. Frank Peterman of the Rock of Jesus received a token of thanks for the use of the church for STBCC rehearsals. Malcolm Lampley was awarded the Founder’s Day Award and Armando Bickum, who commutes from Sarasota to work with STBCC, received a round-trip ticket to visit home for the holidays.

STBCC, under the direction of Bickum, performs at various events throughout the year such as Shout St. Pete Shout, Emancipation Proclamation Services, World Day of Peace, Omega Psi Phi Achievement Week Program and various other functions.

More than 220 people filled the banquet room as they enjoyed a three-course meal and entertainment provided by Deneen Wyman, Joe Smith, STBCC and a complete musical set by featured vocalists The Original Gents.

Williams said that STBCC does free concerts in the Tampa Bay area; however, donations would aid the choir’s efforts in helping Melrose Elementary meet the needs of their students.

To book the choir for community events, Williams can be reached at (727) 631-2385 or Yvonne Clayton at (727) 895-3031.

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