us-johnhain_1779719_590px_1

by ZontaDoris

Back in the humid, hot days of summer we did some strategic planning. But unlike planning efforts that many of us have been subjected to in our work, church, or other activities, our planning paid off!  We produced results! 

We worked as a team in September to host a fun evening at Hamburger Mary’s that yielded over $700 for our treasury. Since it was September–our off-season for tourists and snowbirds–we were pleased with what we could do with a small crowd. The pictures below show some of our good times and hard work.

hamburger_marys_590px_2016

We also made plans to offer Dating 101 in tandem with the CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) domestic violence center in St. Petersburg at Gibbs High School in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. However, school administrators cancelled the program only 24 hours before we were to offer it because of a conflict. To say we were disappointed does not convey the the entire story.

We had arranged for a well known guest speaker–Melissa Doehm–a 23 year old victim of dating violence herself to come because we knew she and the teenagers would click. Melissa almost died when her former boyfriend in high school stabbed her multiple times after she had ended their relationship. All the warning signs of pending violence were there … if one knew what to look for.

We had lined up support specialists such as the school resource officer and youth outreach advocate from CASA to participate. We had purchased drinks and nibbles for a “Green Room” set-up for DV advocates. We had even updated and reformatted an 18-page booklet to give to the students.

teen_dating_2016-12-05_1632Oh, well… life goes on. We found another high school. On December 16, we are presenting Dating 101 with Haven leaders from RCS (Religious Community Services) at East Lake High School instead. We’ll report back soon on how this effort goes.

Yet another strategy that we identified in June was to screen the video–The Hunting Ground–the story of sexual assaults on college campuses across the country at a local college. We wanted to alert students to the dangers of rape on campus and how to use Title IX policies to strengthen protections to reduce risk and assure justice for victims. (We wrote a blog post about Erica Kinsman, a victim at FSU featured in the video, earlier this year.)

We achieved our goal to host an event with college students on October 26 at the St. Petersburg campus of USF.

usf_zonta_590px_0821

Zontians Sandy, Donna, Marcie, Jessica, Jill, Carole, Vildana, and Doris

Again, the turnout was less than stellar but we learned a lot about how to put this event together in the future. We now know USFSP Title IX administrator Heather Klisanin and she seems eager to work with us to promote a bigger attendance next time.

Finally, we’ll just give you a heads-up on our efforts to meet with incumbents and candidates for the State Legislature. We ended up talking with two challengers–Bernie Fensterwald (House District 65) and David Vogel (House District 67), and Rep. Larry Ahern (House District 66), and  Sen. Jack Latvala. All incumbents in Pinellas County were re-elected easily including Rep. Chris Sprowls (65), Rep. Chris Latvala (67), Rep. Ahern and Sen. Latvala.

Because Sen. Latvala will be Senate Appropriations Chair next year, and very busy, he surprised us by offering to help us find sponsors for two bills that we spoke with him about–victims being able to e-file for protective orders instead of going to the courthouse which might be challenging or dangerous if their batterer is watching their movements AND emergency protective orders that law enforcement officers could initiate when they are gathering evidence of obvious domestic violence cases. More to come on these topics soon…below is a picture of Sen. Latvala with the Zonta team of interviewers.

We’re smiling because Sen. Latvala offered to help us find sponsors for two bills.

Zontians Doris Reeves-Lipscomb, Paulette Kevlin, and Donna Lancaster with Sen. Jack Latvala

Zontians Doris Reeves-Lipscomb, Paulette Kevlin, and Donna Lancaster with Sen. Jack Latvala

 More to come in the next installment of the life and times of the Zonta Club of Pinellas County.

* * * * *

“US” graphic by John Hain at Pixabay

Photographs by ZontaDoris or guest photographers for Zonta Club of Pinellas County