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Geraldine Barnes Award Winners

The Geraldine Barnes Award is for an individual who has shown exemplary resourcefulness and discipline in reaching employment and homeownership goals. It involved getting the needed training to reach skill levels in areas that are in demand in the workforce. This individual has worked hard and applied their training to find employment and homeownership opportunities. Their determination to grow and extend their life skills in order to benefit themselves and their families has earned them the respect of those who were privileged to have worked with them through this process.

Geraldine Barnes Award Winners

2022 Geraldine Barnes Award Winners

Lourdes Rios Pagan Headshot
March 2022 - Lourdes Rios Pagan

Congratulations to Ms. Lourdes Rio Pagan, winner of the Geraldine Barnes Award for the month of March. Ms. Rios Pagan has been a resident of JL Young since November 2020, and during her time at JL Young has been working diligently as a student in Hillsborough County Public School's ESOL class to learn English. Her ESOL instructor Ms. Jean Whaley is very proud of how much she has learned in a short time. Ms. Rios Pagan began the class not knowing anything in English and has improved throughout the school year. Ms. Rios Pagan is very enthusiastic in coming to class and excited to learn, "she is the model student." Ms. Rios Pagan says that attending the ESOL class has also helped her get out of the apartment and have her brain active. When Ms. Rios Pagan lived in Puerto Rico, she used to help blind young adults ages 18-21 to graduate from high school. She is someone who loves to help others but currently doesn't have a car, so she cannot do as much as she did before. She also helps residents at JL Young and is currently teaching a 92-year-old resident their numbers while outside in the gazebo playing card games.

Jessica Zaccanti Headshot
February 2022 - Jessica Zaccanti
Congratulations to Ms. Jessica Zaccanti, winner of the Geraldine Barnes Award for the month of February. Jessica was born and raised in Chicago by her mother and grandmother. In 1996, she moved to Tampa. Jessica is the oldest of two siblings, and from an early age, she accomplished being a prominent student with excellent academic grades. By 2018, life made a turn for Jessica; the tragic loss of her mother. From that moment, Ms. Jessica, her little brother, and her child witnessed the challenges the family had to endure and move forward. Four days after the loss of her mother, Jessica gave birth to her second child and named him after her mother. Two years after, the family found themselves relocating and moving into Robles Park Village. She is a committed, loving single mother of 2 boys. She is a hard-working lady, striving on her CNA state license. She has dedicated her time and efforts to being a role model for her children, influencing and encouraging her peers to embrace the moment, center, and go back to school. Ms. Zaccanti is full of dreams and aspirations. She keeps herself focused and strong to keep running towards her goals. In a couple of weeks, she is taking the CNA state exam and is currently assisting and encouraging the students at the CNA Program where she completed her certification. Also, Ms. Jessica is featured at the business class location. Jessica is very grateful to THA for the opportunity given to her having stable housing for her family as she continues working towards self-sufficiency. The client is enrolled in the Village Link Up Program with the Tampa Housing Authority. Jessica's desire to change lives leads her to the medical work field and maybe a Practical License Nurse shortly.

John Brown Headshot
January 2022 - John Brown
Congratulations to Mr. John Brown, the winner of the Geraldine Barnes Resident Award for Exceptional Volunteerism, as he has dedicated himself to providing outstanding volunteer services to the Encore/Meacham Urban Farm and surrounding communities. John Brown is a resident living at the Reed at the Encore. Mr. Brown volunteers his time at the Meacham Urban Farm located on Scott Street across from the Encore district. He had been in contact with the farmers for eight months and volunteered at the farm for six months. As a landscape architect, Mr. Brown helped with the streetscape presentation and helped design the landscape. He also installs, cuts, and cares for the plants, picks out the weeds, and does everything required to ensure the farm is nice and clean. He also picks up litter three times a week along Scott Street. Travis Malloy, the lead farmer, stated that Mr. Brown volunteers daily, ensuring the front entrance of the farm is kept clean from trash and debris. He says that Mr. Brown is a hard worker and is very appreciated for his work at the farm. Mr. Brown states that he inspired the farmers to perk up the property's look. He says he is all about beautification and cleanliness.

2021 Geraldine Barnes Award Winners

December 2021 - Desiree Jenkins
Congratulations to Desiree Jenkins on winning the Geraldine Barnes Award for December under the category of Personal Development. I would like to recognize Ms. Jenkins for her achievements in her personal development. I started working with Ms. Jenkins in 2018 as a Village Link Up Program participant. As an active participant in the program, Ms. Jenkin's goals have been to have increased support for her children (tutoring, educational activities, etc.) and become more self-sufficient. With each year working with her, I've seen her grow. She actively participates in our Parent Workshops, which gives her tools to better communicate with her children and advocate on their behalf and any of the educational programs offered for her children (Summer Reading Initiative, Girls in Charge STEAM Initiative). While working with the Job Developer, Ms. Jenkins has been able to secure stable employment, making strides towards being selfsufficient and owning a home one day. Since working with Ms. Jenkins, I've witnessed her overcome many obstacles on her journey to success, but no matter what comes her way, she is determined to create a better life for herself and her children.

October 2021 - Thaj Chapman
Congratulations to Tahj Chapman on winning the Geraldine Barnes Award for October under the category of Success without Boundaries. Ms. Chatman is a relocation resident from North Boulevard homes who has always been a positive and outstanding resident. She is motivated to do what needs to be done for herself and her children to be successful. As her case manager, she was referred to a free CNA course given by HCC. She was ecstatic to be accepted and begin a new career journey. The resident is doing well in her classes for the CNA program, receiving all A's on quizzes and tests. She has also completed a 40-hour clinical experience at Tampa General Hospital on the Complex Medicine floor that allowed her to put into action all the skills she has learned in the CNA Program. With the completion of the CNA program on 11/2/2021, she is ready to take the next step to qualify for another scholarship that will help her become an LPN as she wants to strive for her ultimate goal of becoming a Registered Nurse. She contributes her children as her motivation to want a successful future. She states that "they make me want to get up every day and do better and do more to give them a comfortable life." Her goal is to set up generational wealth for her children and possible future children as she wants to be a role model that they will be able to emulate and show them that they can be anything and everything they want to be if they put their minds to it. The motto that Ms. Chatman lives by is never to give up, treat others with respect, and do good unto others that their days may be long and their cup never runs dry.

September 2021 - Maria Wispe
Congratulations to Maria Wispe on winning the Geraldine Barnes Award for September under the category of Personal Development. Maria Wispe came into YouthBuild without a High School Diploma and was pregnant. She was working part-time at Home Depot but wanted more out of life. While at YouthBuild, she earned her High School Diploma, received her NCCER Certification, and maximized her career development tools by participating in Employability workshops, Job Fairs, Life Skills/Leadership classes, and Community Service Projects. During one of the Job Fairs (Reverse Job Fair), she was quickly one of the bright lights at the event and received some job opportunities. She is currently working as a Receptionist at Tampa Family, one of the companies that attended the Job Fair. As she continues to build a positive future for her family, Maria is currently pursuing the path to homeownership.

July 2021 - Juan Batista
Congratulations to Juan Batista on winning the Geraldine Barnes Award for August under the category of Community Service. Mr. Batista has been a resident of JL Young since August 2005, and during his time at JL Young has helped many residents that live here. Some of the ways that Mr. Batista has helped the residents have been: • Housekeeping/ helping residents with light chores • 4th Floor hallway cleaning (sweeping & mopping) /maintaining and checking to ensure no issues occur. • Original Buddy system and would check on about five residents every other day • Teaching residents how to help with transportation. • Assisting residents on how to use the AC remote and calling the office with issues that need to be resolved. Mr. Batista used to work in maintenance and had his AC license, so he is used to always helping around. Mr. Batista. Mr. Batista also helps the homeless in the area. Mr. Batista collects and provides clothes and shoes to both men and women that are homeless around JL Young. Mr. Batista is a person who helps everyone around him and never complains.

June 2021 - Milton Malphus
Congratulations to Milton Malphus on winning the Geraldine Barnes Award for the Month of July under the category of Exceptional Volunteerism. Mr. Malphus has been living at the Ella at the Encore for eight years. During that time, he has helped residents in many ways. He is always willing to help the residents by taking them to the grocery store, running minor errands for them, and even to the bank (to get their bank statements for Section 8). He has also gone to different food pantries and food distribution locations and brought back groceries for residents who cannot go themselves. Mr. Malphus also volunteers with Hope for Tampa Bay, where he brings food to those who need it and periodically checks in on them. He says his passion is to help and service others. Mr. Malphus makes himself visible all around the Encore site. He greets everyone with a big bright smile and is always willing to help.

May 2021 - Olliver Ebron
Congratulations to Olliver Ebron Jr. on winning the Geraldine Barnes Award for the Month of June under the category of personal development as he has shown growth in education and economic status. Olliver Ebron Jr (age 19) is a resident living at the Tempo at the Encore. Mr. Ebron is one of the first Encore residents to work at the Meacham Urban Farm located on Scott street across from the Encore district under Section 3. He has been working at the farm since November 2020. One of his tasks on the farm is harvesting plants, fruits and vegetable. He is also attending Hillsborough Community College, finishing up his first year, where is he studying to become a veterinarian. He has volunteered at the Human Society and is looking forward to interning there during his time at school. He enjoys working with the animals. Overall, Mr. Ebron has demonstrated hard work and dedication through continued higher education and employment. He and his family have taken advantage of the benefits and services offered through case management and he is in consistently contact.

Philecia Walker Headshot
April 2021 - Philecia Walker
Ms. Philecia Walker, a resident of Robles Park, has demonstrated the true meaning of personal development. Ms. Walker has been a resident of Robles Park for 17 years. Since her residency, Ms. Walker has joined the Jobs Plus Program and has participated in some of the activities and programs offered. After several years of receiving disability benefits, Ms. Philecia decided it was time for her to enter the workforce environment in 2018. By 2019, Ms. Walker desired to further her education and enrolled at the Ultimate Medical Academy for their Associate's Degree in Science for Medical Billing and Coding. Ms. Walker has since graduated in February 2021. Ms. Philecia Walker plans to obtain a job working within her field. The journey to getting this success was not easy. During her journey, Ms. Walker encountered a medical setback that caused her to discontinue her employment with her employer temporarily. Ms. Walker also endured a personal strain after a close family member passed away. Despite it all, she never quit. It is with great pleasure to present Ms. Philecia Walker as the Geraldine Barnes Award Winner. Ms. Walker has taken strides and, because of self-determination, has accomplished a great goal that is fulfilling.

Kennetha Strong Headshot
March 2021 - Kennetha Strong
Ms. Kennetha Kay Strong has been a resident of JL Young since June 2018 and has helped many residents during her time at JL Young. Her willingness to help others came from watching her grandmother do the same while a Bethune Highrise tenant in the '70s. Ms. Strong has assisted residents that cannot help themselves due to medical reasons, and she gloves up and suits up to help. Ms. Strong assists with; housekeeping, laundry, shopping, and running errands. Her motto is, "As long as I can, then I will help." This statement is very true to everyone that has met her. However, things were not always this way. Ms. Strong had a past and with it a problem with addiction. In September 2008, Ms. Strong decided to make a change in her life. She went to DACCO, realizing that she could die if she didn't change. She decided that she wanted to live. She participated in the 6-month program and ultimately stayed an extra month. Ms. Strong said, "I did not let the addiction stop me and instead got help, and now I speak to others that were in my previous shoes. I began mentoring those that also wanted to change their life and stop their addiction. I outreach in the Sulfur Springs area and share my story and my phone number so they can call or text me the day they decide to change. My most significant success was helping one of my mentees get clean, and now she currently has her place in a management position and graduated last year from an 18-month program at the Salvation Army." Ms. Strong overcame one of the biggest obstacles and faced her demons that others might not get a second chance. Her determination and passion for helping others are very encouraging.

February 2021 - Elisha Ortiz-Felix
Ms. Elisha Ortiz-Felix was born and raised in Puerto Rico by her mother and stepfather, Ezequiel. Elisha is the oldest of four siblings, and from an early age, she accomplishes to be a prominent student with excellent academic grades. By the age of 15, life made a turn; a tragic loss of her stepfather, her only father figure. From that moment Elisha and her siblings witnessed the challenges the family had to endure for many years and move forward. After the loss of her stepfather, Elisha's family found themselves relocated from Puerto Rico and moving to Tampa, and then into Robles Park. She is a committed, loving single mother of 2 daughters and one boy. She is a hard-working young lady, striving on her third-year social work degree, and also holds full-time employment where she has been promoted twice. She has dedicated her time and efforts to being a role model for her children and community, influencing and encouraging her neighbors/peers to embrace the moment, focus, and go back to school. Ms. Ortiz is very grateful to THA for the opportunity given to her to have stable housing for her family as she continues her degree. She is full of dreams and aspirations. She keeps herself focused with the strength to keep running towards her goals and at the same time encouraging others, especially single mothers. Elisha is enrolled in the Job Plus Program and Village Link Up Program with the Tampa Housing Authority. Elisha's desire to change lives and a mentor which leads her to the social work field and maybe soon, a THA Case Manager.

Erica Newsome Headshot
January 2021 - Erica Newsome
Erica Newsome grew up in Bradenton, Florida, and was raised by her grandparents. When she became of age, she then in turn, took care of them. Erica lost both of her grandmothers and grandfather in the beginning of 2020. After the loss of her grandparents, Erica found herself relocating from Bradenton and moving into Robles Park. She is a single mother of 4 daughters and has dedicated her time and efforts in being a role model for her children and community. Erica is a Cheerleader Coach for the West Tampa Spartans. Two of her daughters cheer, and one is a Jr. Coach. Her passion for inspiring the youth doesn't stop there, she also started a mentoring group for kids and women called Team Lioness. Erica started her career in early childhood education and worked at a learning center teaching children ages birth to four years old. Unfortunately, when COVID-19 impacted society in 2019 she lost her employment due to the schools shutting down. This didn't stop Erica from striving for success. She enrolled in the R3 Program at Career Source and obtained a scholarship to go back to school. Erica also enrolled in the Jobs Plus Program and Village Link Up Program with the Tampa Housing Authority. Erica's desire to change lives, mentor, and be a healer which lead her to the medical field. She enrolled in classes to become a Pharmacy Technician, she completed her courses and is now certified as of December 31, 2020. In the words of Erica, "I know my purpose on earth, and I feel like I'm doing God's will and will continue to keep my girls busy so they know the importance of life and not to become what surrounds them and to never give up on what you believe in".

2020 Geraldine Barnes Award Winners

Latoria Glover Headshot
December 2020 - Latoria Glover
Latoria Glover is a former North Boulevard resident who relocated under the West River relocation. She has been a model resident as she strives to stay in compliance with The Tampa Housing Authority and by always looking for opportunities for self-improvement. Ms. Glover is a single mother of a seven-year-old son and is employed part-time as a home health aid with Concierge Care since February 2020. She is also a Certified Medical Assistant since 2014 and has recently obtained her Associate of Science in Medical Administrative Billing and Coding from Keiser University in July 2020. Ms. Glover is looking to take her CNA test in the coming months so that she can begin her journey of nursing, as her ultimate goal is to become a registered nurse to work in pediatrics as she has a love for helping children. She contributes her success to her son as her motivating force that makes her strive for excellence as she states that she wants to set the best example for him that "if he believes in himself, he can achieve anything".

Norma Lopez Headshot
November 2020 - Norma Lopez
Congratulations to Ms. Norma Lopez the winner of the Geraldine Barnes Resident Award for Exceptional Volunteerism. Ms. Lopez has been a resident of JL Young since October 2013, but prior to that and she would visit her sister and that lived here prior to her. Ms. Lopez has been a Senior Companion volunteer with the nonprofit Seniors in Services since 2011. As a Senior Companion prior to COVID-19, Ms. Lopez assisted elderly residents at JL Young to help them maintain their independence by helping with light housekeeping, laundry, running errands, throwing away the trash, and picking up the resident's mail. Due to social distancing and COVID, Ms. Lopez has been helping Seniors in Service by calling residents through the Tele-Pals program. Tele-Pals help seniors stay socially connected while keeping their distance through telephone reassurance.   Not only is Ms. Lopez volunteering with Senior's in Service, but also volunteers with her church, Iglesia Cristiana Misionera Peniel, and helps 200 Hillsborough County residents receive food every 2 weeks. Once a month, they also go to feed a hot meal to the homeless by JL Young. It is with great honor to congratulate Norma Lopez for the Geraldine Barnes Award for the category of Exceptional Volunteerism.

October 2020 - Bradley Antoine
Bradley Antoine (age 18) a young man that strives to overcome great odds to secure the success of his future. His family was relocated from North Boulevard Homes, and he is the oldest of three children. I began work with Bradley when he was in middle school. I have watched him take care of his siblings as if they were his own children and still excel in school. He was a recipient of the 2019 National Black Caucus Foundation Essay Contest, where he attended the CBCF Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Middleton High School in July of 2020 with a 4.00-point grade average and now attends Hillsborough Community College in the FUSE program, where he is studying Forensics Science. He will then transfer to the University of South Florida once he has completed 30 credit hours at HCC. Bradley makes sure that his siblings are being taken care of by walking them to and from school, helping with their homework, make sure feed and well take care of all while attending college. Although the family has faced many challenges with such as a lease violation (failed inspection), case management has worked closely with the family to ensure that they understand the importance of staying in compliance and continuing to work with case management. Despite the challenge he faces, his desire to succeed is bigger. Bradley has set goals that will lay the foundation for his future as well as setting an example for his sister and brother.

Karen Bogan Headshot
September 2020 - Karen Bogan
I want to share them with you my story of an outstanding resident, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and teaching at the Robles Park Internet café. I met Karen in year two (2) of the Jobs Plus Initiative Program. I knew I was going to like her from the start because instantly after we met, she was very interested in what I was teaching and wanted to know more. I knew Karen was a Rock Star when I noticed she was recruiting other residents to my computer classes by sharing with them her experiences. Karen successfully completed eight (8) Microsoft Computer Basics and Digital literacy courses, all of which she received official Microsoft Certifications. Karen was so dedicated to her studies she would come in the rain to attend classes and complete her college course assignments online in pursuit of a college degree! Karen did not stop there! She started getting involved in the Jobs Plus Initiative Program. Karen attends the workshops offered and would consistently join in all festivities related to the Jobs Plus Initiative program and many other events hosted by Program and Property Services and offered to the residents. When the pandemic caused the closure of the Internet café, she did not let that stop her. Karen simply switched over to the online Distant Learning portal to continue her computer classes. Karen states she loves being a to her community and have assisted Ms. Reva on several outreach for programs, workshops, and THA events within the Robles Park Community and outside events for residents as well. She states, "she is a people person and loves being productive in the community to make a difference and to spread positive vibes about the hard work we do as Robles staff to bring life-changing programs that specifically speak to young adults, seniors citizens and youth who reside at Robles." With consistent repetition, Karen is becoming a positive influencer in her community at Robles Park. The personal growth Karen is achieving has set the building blocks that will lay a magnificent foundation for her life's journey. Nominators Name: Cherrie Calloway Occupation: Jobs Plus Initiative Technical Training Coordinator.

Damaris Lorenzo Headshot
August 2020 - Damaris Lorenzo
Congratulations to Damaris Lorenzo and her family on winning the Geraldine Barnes Award in the area of personal development for August 2020. Originally from Puerto Rico, Ms. Lorenzo and her family were tragically forced from their home due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. The family was able to safely relocate to Hillsborough County, and they lived in a hotel for 10 months until they were able to secure stable housing by moving into Robles Park Village. Ms. Lorenzo and her son began actively participating in services offered through THA, Career Source Tampa Bay, and other community organizations. Her son, Michael, received a certificate in Robotics Training from Career Source, obtained full-time employment, and received a car from Wheels of Success. Due to her health challenges, Ms. Lorenzo was unable to work, but she actively participated in the empowerment classes offered through Village Link-up. Ms. Lorenzo desired more for herself and her family. She wanted to become a homeowner. In May 2019, Ms. Lorenzo and her son Michael began working with Solita's House and other community partners to achieve their goals. Through hard work and commitment to their goals, Ms. Lorenzo and her family closed on their new home this year in Lakeland, Fl.