What happens when 50 of the best restaurants on both sides of the bridge come together under one roof? There’s an epic battle for the Food Fight Champion between Tampa and St. Pete. The best part is around $200,000 was raised so Metropolitan Ministries can bring hope to those who need it most in our community. So many people work so hard to make this event happen, Brooke Palmer, and her team from RSBP Events out did themselves for sure. Jeff Philbin, Titus O’Neil, both Mayors, Jane Castor from Tampa and Rick Kriseman from St. Pete, Raymond from the Rays, Captain Fear from the Bucs, and Thunderbug from the Lightning and 600+ people were there to cheer on their team. I did get to try some of the deliciousness and my favorite thing was these spicy pumpkin risotto pops that Armani’s had, and Dough Nation had sea salt cookie dought with like carmel ice cream. This event is maddness and SO much fun, here’s just some of my favorite candids and a taste (see what I did there:-) of what the event was like. Unfortunately, team St. Pete came away with the W for the 2nd year in a row. Team Tampa is coming for the title next year!
Metromin’s annual Bridge Builders event is one I look forward to every single year and it never disappoints! Hosted at the Hilton Downtown Tampa catered by Inside the Box, set and production IS Staging. hundreds came out to support and give to bring hope to those who need it most in Tampa Bay. Metromin unveiled the Metro Brigaide, which is a team of 30+ staff from Metro and AmeriCorps. Metromin saw a need for people who have been living in tent camps who are afraid to go and get basic things they need and services because they don’t want to lose the stuff they do have, so the Brigaide goes out and brings food, love, and services directly to these people! I was also my last official time hearing from Mayor (Reverend), Bob Buckhorn. I’ve gotten to hear him speak and photograph him many times over the last 8 years and I always love hearing his enthusiasm and love of Tampa Bay and making it a better place for our kids. The kids from Metromin presented both Bob and the Debartalo family with a beautiful tile art piece in honor of their support.
Wow, is all I have to say about this event! Over 800 people came out to Armature Works support Metropolitan Ministries 2nd annual food fight. Basically you can eat all the food and drink from all the best restaurants in Tampa Bay. All while this is going on, there was a legit wrestling ring setup where a team of chefs from Tampa battled a team of chefs from St. Pete for the coveted Food Fight trophy. This year the W went to St. Pete, let by Chef Rachel from the Peabody (it was her birthday too so what a great present). You can see how intense this got, it was awesome! If I tagged everyone involved it would literally take me hours from the host Titus O’neal, to the celebrity chef judges, DJ Fresh, and the countless people who made this happen all to bring hope to the bay. Here’s just a little bit of the deliciousness there……
Today is Give Day Tampa Bay which I thought was the perfect day to post sneak peeks from Metropolitan Ministries Bridge Builders event that I photographed last week. This is one of my favorite, if not my favorite fundraising event each year, and this year their team blew this event out of the water. The main speaker was going to be WWE wrestler, Titus O'Neil (aka Thaddeus Boullard). I got to hear some of his story at the Uplift U Metromin graduation last fall. His story is amazing, his mom was raped when she was 11 and he and his brothers overcame all the obstacles to graduate from college and he is infamous in the WWE. He was suppose to be there in person but got called out of the country, so they did a series of videos. The first was of the Strong family, which their last name says it all. The mom walked 18 miles to get to Metromin and how her 3 boys are looking towards college and becoming engineers (I got to talk with them after the event about that:-). Then they showed Titus' reaction to the video of this family, he teared up at the familiar struggle of their story. The 3rd video was of Titus having a sit down with the teens from Metromin and he told them he loves them and he believes in them. He said when someone told him that as a teenager no one had ever said that before and it changed everything for him. His mom, Daria, was there in person and they had a special hand crafted WWE belt for both her and Titus naming them as Metromin Champions of Hope. They had Titus record a special video just for his mom, I know words are really doing it justice as to how powerful it was but hopefully you can get a little glimpse of it here. Their hashtag is #behope and they definitely are making a huge impact to lift up people in Tampa Bay. Give Day Tampa Bay is a 24 hour online giving challenge for tons of local non profits so whether it's Metromin or whatever your favorite organization is to give back to go on and give to make a difference in our city!
Hope is Here. It's so true! That is honestly what they do in Tampa Bay and why I love Metromin and donating my time there whenever I can. I had the opportunity to photograph the graduation from their Culinary Arts and Uplift U programs. Chef teared up as he talked about his students and celebrated each one as he called them up to be recognized. They've got jobs in some of the premier restaurants in Tampa like Mise En Place and Ulele. The Uplift U graduates have completed training that has landed them jobs and stable housing for themselves and their kids (all the kids are so freaking cute:-)! At some point in life they found themselves in a position of homelessness with no one to turn to. Metromin helped give them the resources needed to change their life and become self-sufficient. When Tim Marks, President and CEO was talking to them he said something like "this place isn't the best place, the best place is your own place" it's the same as home sweet home right? Each of the Uplift U grads were recognized and I love that each of the kids got a medal as well. At the end, they had a little surprise guest for the graduates. WWE wrestler Titus O'Neil shared his story of how his mom was raped at 11 years old and he was born when she was only 12 years old. His story is pretty amazing and he lives here in Tampa Bay and does a ton of work with charities helping kids go to college, after school programs, and United Way just to name a few. This was definitely a very special event and so inspiring!
Metropolitan Ministries truly brings hope to those who are running short on it in Tampa Bay. Over 1000 people supported their annual Bridge Builders event at the Hilton Downtown Tampa. Lunch was provided by their cafe and catering company, Inside the Box. It's "Good Food Doing Good", because all proceeds go back to feeding the hungry and people in need right here in Tampa, the food and service there is awesome. Definitely worth a visit if you haven't been! They shared a video story of Linda, and how working there has changed her life. She actually made the cheesecake favors at each place setting. Pam Iorio was presented with the 2016 Bridge Builders award and a hug from some of the Notes of Joy. Metromin's President, Tim Marks, talked about outcomes, success rates, and how they measure, and constantly improve on helping people (makes my nerdy engineering heart leap:-) They have a 92% success rate in their short term program and 88% success rate in their long term program which means almost all their families are leaving with housing, and a plan to be self-sufficient. If you haven't taken a tour of the campus, or volunteered with them, you must! it will blow your mind the impact they are making on Tampa Bay!
Metropolitan Ministries has such a huge impact on the Tampa Bay community and we had the honor of photographing their annual benefit, Bridge Builders. I absolutely love what they do, providing hope for the homeless. They have been since 1972. If you see their trucks around town they say "Truck of Hope". The ballroom at the Hilton Downtown Tampa was packed with over 800 people that came out in support. Kelly Ring, from My Fox Tampa Bay was the MC. One of their families told their story of how they went from homelessness to giving their daughters a future and accomplishing their dreams of going to college when they graduate from high school. The kids choir the Notes of Joy pretty much stole the show!