Who We've Supported
"A man's true wealth is the good he does in this world." Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him (570-632 CE)
Every Smile Has A Story is an organization with a mission to increase understanding and awareness for people with facial differences. There are over 340 syndromes that include cleft lip and palate. Cleft lip and palate has become the most common live birth defect. Children with this condition have difficulty feeding, speaking, and are at risk for psychological problems, including depression and self-esteem issues. Often families are ill-prepared for the arrival of a child with unique challenges.
As an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Pat Ricalde identified the growing issues in support for patients with craniofacial differences. Although medical insurance covers the costs of surgery, there are huge gaps in coverage for many of the specialty items these children will need. This includes special feeding systems, bottles, transportation to and from multiple medical appointments, certain special medical and dental appliances that may be needed, as well as additional therapies.
Every Smile Has A Story was founded out of the need to supply support to these children and their families.
Volunteers of America is the charity that steps forward to help the most vulnerable. For over 122 years, they have taken on the most difficult tasks to help the most underserved. Those vulnerable groups include people with mental illness, veterans, the frail elderly, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions.
Volunteers of America serves over 3000 Floridians annually through affordable housing and supportive services. Several hundred of the Floridians served live in Tampa. Their professional employees provide behavioral health services because mental illness has been cited as one of the largest causes of homelessness in the US. VOA Florida provides more than 18,000 hours of behavioral health services and coordination each year. Each program participant receives direct and customized support. With these services participants are able to rebuild their lives and reach their full potential.
The Refugee and Migrant Women’s Initiative (RAMWI) has been operating in the Tampa area for 4 years, enjoying the great privilege of welcoming and serving families as they begin new lives here. Their mission is to bring together newly arrived refugee and migrant women for social, mental, spiritual, educational, and economic support. They have monthly women’s support groups, children’s programming, and crafting workshops. They provide a platform for women to connect across cultural and linguistic barriers while learning useful skills, tools and information about life in the Tampa area. RAMWI provides tangible community resources as well as emotional, spiritual connection. To date they have served over 500 refugee women and their families of many backgrounds: Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Somali, Congo, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Haiti, Central Republic of Africa, Pakistan, Uganda, Cuba, Kenya, Eritrea, and more.
The Muslim Connection (TMC) is an Islamic organization that provides an outlet for social and spiritual needs of the Tampa Bay Muslim community through educational & religious workshops, activities and Halaqas. Our remaining member dues from February’s meeting helped TMC purchase unique “dawah” gift packs for new Muslims in the community and provide a sign language interpreter at their weekly lectures.
Mary & Martha House offers a safe environment where abused and homeless women and their children in Hillsborough County can regroup and begin their journey toward personal and economic independence. To fulfill this mission they provide shelter and a bridge to permanent housing. They also support the women with advocacy, employment readiness, financial preparedness, and aim for their success by helping them find full time employment, financial stability, and permanent housing.
Layla’s House is an early childhood community learning center that is part of Champions for Children. They serve children from the time they are born until age five to ensure they are Kindergarten ready. Layla’s House not only works with children, but also their caregivers by providing them support, child development workshops and safety trainings. Unfortunately, Hillsborough County perpetually ranks amongst the highest in the state for the most reported and confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect. Layla’s House prevention and education programs are designed to reach out to both parents at-risk for violent behavior, and parents who just need a helping hand in raising healthy, happy, and educated children.
Educator and child safety expert, Brenda Zofrea, created an award-winning program which provides busy parents with the knowledge and tools they need to help protect their children while promoting literacy at the same time. The program empowers children to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to prevent sexual abuse and abduction. Through her book “Let’s B safe,” along with her Be Safe Bees, a psychological tool to help children disclose abuse, have helped keep thousands of children safe. Visit her website to purchase a copy of her book and share this important message with the children in your life!
A Continuous Charity is the first and only Muslim non-profit that provides interest-free loans and financial mentoring for higher education. It is a national organization with a Tampa chapter. The name was coined from the statement of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) when he said, “When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three: a continuous charity, beneficial knowledge and a righteous child who will pray for him”. Their mission is to promote the spiritual and intellectual development of Muslims throughout North America by providing interest-free loans for higher education. Their vision is to bring about a generation of graduates who will have a strong Muslim identity and be well-versed in their fields, using both for the benefit of mankind.
W.O.K.E was awarded $10,000 for their service to the community. W.O.K.E stands for Welcoming, Opportunities, Knowledge, and Empowerment. They provide empowerment through engagement and education to refugee, low-income and migrant children. They provide the children with soccer team participation opportunities to foster teamwork, leadership, and responsibility. They also educate by providing after-school tutoring. As the founders worked within the refugee community, they realized that refugee youth often face the same social, economic, and educational barriers as their immigrant and low- income American neighbors. These challenges are faced by underrepresented and marginalized groups while integrating into their school systems and living communities, where they often feel a lack of belonging and respect. WOKE’s vision is to create a space that is reflective of the world that is needed. A community that fosters and empowers diverse young leaders to be respectful, hardworking, and upstanding citizens of the world.
East Lake United Methodist Church Bicycle Ministry was awarded $1,000 to help assist them in providing refurbished and gently used bikes to needy families in Pasco and Pinellas Counties. The Bicycle Ministry collects used bikes, refurbishes them, checks them for safety, and then distributes them to local organizations and families in need. In addition, they work with local police to educate citizens on bicycle safety.
Drowning is the leading cause of death in Florida for children under the age of four. Water Smart Tots is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating pediatric drowning in the Greater Tampa Bay Area by promoting awareness through water safety education and by providing access to survival swimming skills to children ages 12 months to 6 years who are financially underprivileged, or who have special needs.
Bayaan Academy is a local K-8th full-time Islamic school going into its fourth year. Their mission is “to foster a culture of treating our students as assets, by providing appropriate measures for their mental, physical and spiritual growth”.
Everyday Blessings cares for up to 28 children in Thonotosassa and 12 in Sarasota as they await permanent placement after being removed from their previous home due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. These children come from all economic backgrounds and ethnic groups. Their goal is to keep siblings together.
ReDefiners aims to create equity and access to world language educational opportunities for all elementary students, with a focus on at-risk youth, by providing high-quality, immersive programs in Spanish and critical need languages such as Arabic and Mandarin.
Their mission is to teach people how to have hard conversations with people who don’t look like them to work toward a community free from all forms of discrimination one relationship at a time.
AYA provides a safe, nurturing, and stimulating Islamic environment for 600 students in PK3 to 12th grade. They recently adopted a new STEM curriculum for the elementary grades to help support the new IB program. In order to maximize the program, they require iPads to introduce technology and robotics.