Watson Haynes, II, President & CEO of Pinellas County Urban League
ST. PETERSBURG – The Pinellas County Urban League (PCUL), one among a handful of premier social service agencies in Florida, has been providing effective, high-quality services and programs holistically to individuals, families and other community components since 1977.
Who are they?
The local League, headquartered at 333 31st St. N, St. Petersburg, is a branch of the highly regarded National Urban League, and its role in Pinellas and surrounding counties is to help bring stability and prosperity to all residents by addressing the whole person and the whole community.
PCUL is comprised of a professional staff of well-educated, highly trained women and men led by Rev. Watson L. Haynes II, president and CEO, and guided by a board of directors whose chairperson is Linda Marcelli, vice president of Lucky’s Real Tomatoes.
Social service, economic, education, health and other needs assessments, researched, evaluated and made known by competent agencies including the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County, various chambers of commerce, Pinellas County School Board and Pinellas County government, provide a knowledge-base for PCUL to provide its services and programs to build clients so they can reach their goals.
Based on those assessments, PCUL comes to know and understand that many residents lack the knowledge, skills and often the necessary access to move themselves to stability and prosperity.
Through the League’s programs and services, and those provided by affiliates, persons can be elevated through more and better education, greater economic development, better housing and improved health, part of how the PCUL empowers communities and changes lives.
What do they do?
PCUL provides programs and administers affiliate not-for-profit organizations to address the needs of individuals, families and the larger community using a holistic approach that sees, assesses and guides the whole person. The “wrap-around” method embraces the individual and their family’s needs as well.
Some examples of programs and services provided by the PCUL include:
- Home Weatherization and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, often called LIHEAP
- Mental health and wellness counseling in partnership with The Well for Life LLC
- Youth and family services programs addressing crime prevention and intervention for youths 8-18
- GED tutoring help
- College Bound guidance
Why PCUL matters
Most people, if you ask them, will acknowledge that they would like to live a safe, robust, economically secure life. PCUL, through its programs and affiliates, works hard to provide such a life for many in Pinellas County, and in the six other counties where it operates.
One longtime observer of the PCUL’s operations recently challenged by an associate on why it matters offered the following:
“By its holistic approach of elevating both the individual and the family, the League helps to increase the knowledge and skills that could lead to economic advancement while, at the same time, helping to lower the potential for people forced by conditions to resort to crime and the need for incarceration,” said the longtime observer.
Indeed, the observer added that, in their view, crime among low-income people and communities often is borne of oppressive conditions undergirded by race and class discrimination in employment, housing and education.
PCUL understands that a whole individual and a whole family can create a whole dynamic community, a collective if you will, driven by successful and diverse voices and actions that, when these fundamentals – gainful employment, affordable housing and equitable education – are implemented, can lead the community to a sustainable democracy.
Produced by Roshida Newslink for the Pinellas County Urban League