S.T.O.R.Y. 727 rewrites the future in St. Pete

To increase community collaboration, S.T.O.R.Y. 727 will hold a meet and greet on Sunday, Oct. 29, from 10:30-6 p.m. including at Cross & Anvil, 1201 7th Ave. S. and Campbell Park.

BY J.A. JONES | Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – S.T.O.R.Y. 727 will hold its first meet and greet on Sunday, Oct. 29, from 10:30-6 p.m. at a number of locations including Cross & Anvil, 1201 7th Ave. S., and Campbell Park.

Eric Jackson, one of the nonprofit’s founders, said the event’s goal is to increase community collaboration.

“This organization is more like a movement where people of all walks of life have joined forces and really make positive impacts,” shared Jackson. “We desire more communities throughout the state of Florida to follow suit and implement the same. We are willing to share ideas and possible resources to assist.”

The organizers of S.T.O.R.Y. 727 came together in January 2021, and according to Jackson, “COVID-19 played a major role, with social restrictions and plenty of gun violence in the city.” While the community was looking for solutions, he and fellow founders Gary Gaines and Aaron Green attended one meeting, while founder Stevmoney Medaries participated in another, where ideas were discussed on how to support the youth of St. Pete.

“We discussed introducing music and arts, and Steve was focusing on building a church youth group with acting and talent shows,” Jackson relayed.

But when neither of those initiatives worked out, Gaines and Medaries continued the conversation on Facebook. Eventually, the four met up and decided to start what became S.T.O.R.Y. 727, implementing activities and inviting guest speakers to meet at local neighborhood parks to talk to the youth.

S.T.O.R.Y., which is an acronym for Stringing Together Obviously Remarkable Youth,” has held numerous outdoor activities, including sports days offering kickball, flag football, basketball, tug of war, nerf games and water balloon games for the kids.

“We provide summer camps for ages 5-17 that expose the youth to many arts, professions and field trips in the Bay area they may not be able to attend at home. We feed the homeless and local families weekly.”

S.T.O.R.Y. 727’s feeding program has had the most significant impact by far. The youth are humbled and grateful to participate. Jackson said the program allows them to become closer to families and provide additional assistance or resources.

While the organization focuses on south St. Pete zip codes 33705, 33711, and 33712, they also offer services in Hillsborough, Manatee and Alachua counties.

Jackson said the organization knows it’s making a difference because parents often express their appreciation of the time spent “nourishing their kids.”

He shared the story of one single mom fighting to get her son on track after a divorce. The young man was a brilliant kid who lost focus and hope until he became involved with S.T.O.R.Y. 727. Jackson said today, the youth continues to spend time with the group, knowing he now has mentors who only want the best for him.

S.T.O.R.Y. 727 also hears many testimonies of gratitude from houseless residents who take advantage of their services. However, Jackson said that since most of the resources to run the program come from the pockets of the four founders, funding is an issue. Transportation is another challenge.

“As we continue to grow, funding now has become a priority we will continue to seek,” Jackson stated.

He noted that sponsorship is needed to support transportation; additionally, the organization is seeking a brick-and-mortar location where they can access freezers to operate a pantry to go along with their mobile feeding project. And, of course, volunteers and those desiring to be active and committed members are always a plus.

Today, S.T.O.R.Y. 727 continues to build relationships with for-profit and not-for-profit organizations to bring wraparound services to their communities.

“The community needs decreased recidivism, gun violence, substance/opioid abuse, child neglect, racism and hunger issues,” Jackson observed.

S.T.O.R.Y. 727 is embarking on implementing a series of intensive trainings covering everything from cognitive behavioral therapy to leadership and business development for the entire family “to assist and hopefully cure” some of the issues currently besetting the community.

For a full schedule of October 29 events, visit S.T.O.R.Y. 727 on Facebook. To reach the group for questions or information, email youthstory727@gmail.com.

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