The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation Officers
The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation Board Trustee
As an undergraduate at the University of Florida, I spent a semester volunteering at The Arc of Alachua County. I was fortunate enough to connect with a group of clients during their weekly bowling league that touched my heart in a way that I could have never imagined. Interacting with this energetic group of clients, and witnessing the pure joy as they learned to bowl was a very rewarding experience. My understanding of the possibilities for people with developmental disabilities expanded as I realized they too have hopes and dreams just like everyone else.
Only having served on the board of my homeowner’s association, I was looking for a way to give back to my community in a way that really fed my soul. I am a Florida native and reside in Palm Harbor with my son, Kaden. Having been blessed with the most supportive family, friends and colleagues that I could have ever asked for I knew it was time to give back. Ironically, while I was contemplating which organization I could return the same love and support to a family member asked me to consider involvement in The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation.
It was on a tour of Harborside Art Studio, and talking with each of the clients that I realized The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation was a perfect fit. I was talking to Michelle Ault and some of the clients about the art projects they were working on for Festival of Trees. In our conversation, she was asking me some questions about my family, and I was sharing with her the age of my son Kaden. After our conversation, a client that was quietly working on art next to me looked up at me smiling and said “My name is Jason Baker and I don’t have any kids, but thank you for asking.” Jason proceeded to show me around the gallery pointing out his own art pieces with pride. As I watched him light up when talking about his work, all of life’s trivial stresses and work deadlines became considerably smaller, and I remembered the things that matter most in life: love, relationships and purpose. The first event I attended as a board member was the annual meeting. As I left the dinner feeling revived, there was Jason Baker standing outside of the Sheraton and personally thanked me for attending the banquet.
Being a part of The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation has been my privilege. It is incredible to see how the board comes together to support our clients through fun and successful fundraising events. I don’t think that I could ever give back to The Arc Tampa Bay what the clients have given me: a new way of seeing life.
My husband Jerry and I met at Kent and were married after graduation in 1967. Five years later we were blessed with Tracy’s arrival, and in 1975 we made the move to Florida and began our long journey with UPARC, now The Arc Tampa Bay.
I was involved with Tracy at the Playparc School in the late 70’s and was first selected for a position on the UPARC Foundation Board in 1985. I have served 13 plus years on this board in many capacities: President, Secretary, and chairman of the Special Events, Donor Society, By-laws, and Membership committees. Special Events gave me the opportunity to twice chair the wonderful Open Your Heart fashion show. Also, while serving on this board, I served on the founding committee of what is now Advocare Trust and am currently serving on that board as well.
I began my service on the Agency Board of Directors in 1991 and have served terms from 1991-1997 and 2009 to the present. My involvement on this board has included President-Elect, Treasurer, Secretary, and the Human Resources, Finance, Nominating, Parent Rep, Tarpon facility and Elder-Care committees.
I am ever grateful to The Arc Tampa Bay for the opportunities I have been given to serve this outstanding organization and for all they have done for Tracy and the others with whom she lives, works, learns, and grows. They couldn’t be in better hands.
Fast forward to 1996 and I was a UF Public Relations graduate looking for a job in the area. I found myself as the new Community Relations Coordinator for (then) UPARC Foundation. It was a perfect fit. I felt right at home. I spent my days giving tours at The Long Center, speaking at churches local service organizations about UPARC’s needs and overseeing the Foundation’s special events calendar. It was virtually impossible to have a bad day…..there were smiles and compliments everywhere! My old friend Grovie was still telling tales of the ocean. Miss Susan was still painting those beautiful angels. And I made many, many new friends who’s faces and stories I will never forget.
I worked at the Foundation for four years and soon after, was invited to follow in my parent’s footsteps as a member of The Omelette Committee. My roller skating days are over, but I still love toting plants and passing out granola bars with my friend Molly at the client visit. And as an adult, I now realize not only how special these citizens are, but also how fortunate they are to have a place like The Arc Tampa Bay. I am committed to helping in any way I can to ensure its longevity. I was lucky enough to share a dance with Grovie a few weeks ago. He and I both might have a few gray hairs, but we didn’t let that stop us! And although he confided his fleet of ships aren’t sailing as much as they used to, he still had a twinkle in his eye! I can honestly say I’m a better person and a better mother for having known Grovie and all those like him!
Sarah [Sally] Walker Guthrie
Chairman of the Board, J. T. Walker, Industries, Inc.
Since 1996, Sally has been an owner of J. T. Walker Industries, which holds a portfolio of vertically integrated subsidiaries that manufacture and fabricate products, primarily for the construction industry, in over 23 facilities nationwide and in Mexico.
She is a member of the Society of International Business Fellows, the Committee of 200, Women Corporate Directors and a founding member of Access Circles. Sally is a member of the Board of Directors of the Committee of 200 Foundation and a former member of the Women’s Leadership Board at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She was instrumental in founding the Sarah Walker Women’s Center at Morton F. Plant Hospital and is the former chairman of the Pinellas County Historical Commission.
Sally received her BA from Agnes Scott College and an MA from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She has participated in executive education programs at both the Harvard Business School and the Graduate School of Business at Stanford.
She also operates a sustainable cattle ranch in Brooksville, Florida.
My involvement with UPARC, now The ARC Tampa Bay, began in the 90's when friends asked me to work on the Festival of Trees committee. I served on that committee as well as, Open your Heart Committee for a number of years. In 2016, The ARC Tampa Bay Foundation spearheaded a new fundraising event, Wings ,Wheels and Wine.
It was a hit with the community. I was proud to be part of that event. So much so I co-chaired our second year event in 2017.
In 2008 , I had the distinct honor to begin serving on the UPARC Foundation Board of Directors for a six year term. Currently, I am back on the ARC Board of Directors serving my second year.
More importantly, I have a personal connection to The ARC Tampa Bay, My nephew John participates in a number of classes at the Clearwater ADT Long Center campus. I’ve seen firsthand how this organization has helped John and others thrive.
Travis Finchum: Board President
My “personal connection” came along in 2004 in the form of an adorable daughter named Lillian who has Down Syndrome. She joined our family and has reminded us all what is important in life and how we all have a responsibility to look out for the most vulnerable among us. The greatest fear that a parent with a child with special needs has is who will look out for our loved one when we can’t. The Arc Tampa Bay will. We all need to make sure that The Arc Tampa Bay is in a good position to continue to provide these valuable services and to protect our special population.
Jerry Figurski: Trustee
Many years ago I raced my wife Melody to a hospital in Canton, Ohio, for our daughter, Tracy, was on her way. The joy of seeing Melody holding Tracy for the first time was simply heavenly. Nine days later, we heard from a doctor five words that would change our lives forever. “This girl is brain damaged.” The total shock was followed by many days, many months, in fact a number of years of tears. To know then and even now that Tracy would never be able to do all that anyone might expect in a lifetime hurt to the core of our souls. In her early years, we were not sure exactly how she would develop, but she was happy and walked for 13 years. As time passed though, her ability to walk faded, limping at 14, walking only backwards later and finally in her mid-twenties being unable to walk. Tracy is both physically and mentally challenged. She wears braces but must use a wheelchair to walk more than a few feet; she functions socially quite well, but cannot read or write.
Candidly, in the beginning, we did not know where to turn. But, then, we saw then, UPARC, in the “shining city upon the hill.” The space herein limits what I would like to tell you. However, know through its program and facilities, The Arc and we have been able to give Tracy one of this world’s most precious gifts – an independent and happy life – a life with dignity. She has a sense of well-being and security – and friendships with her peers. And – these are things she will continue to have even after Melody and I are gone – as long as The Arc Tampa Bay remains strong.
In supporting and volunteering for UPARC, we have come to know many of the consumers and their families. Even so, none of us can even begin to understand the difficulties and challenges of the great majority of The Arc Tampa Bay’s consumers. Thanks to The Arc, however, the consumers have a chance. The Arc Tampa Bay is their book of instructions. It is their school; their work and recreation center, and in many cases their home. The story of The Arc, “Supporting and empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilites,” is a splendid story. We would love for you to see Tracy’s smile and her joy and the happiness she brings to all around her. Surely, we have been blessed by Tracy coming into our life. We love you and are so very proud of you.
Gwen Hoover: Trustee
My husband, Harry, and I moved to Florida from St. Louis several years ago. We had spent lots of time in the area before moving our business and making Belleair our permanent home.
My involvement with The Arc Tampa Bay, formerly UPARC, started with friends inviting me to join them on the Festival of Trees Committee where I served for many years. I am also a long time member of the Open Your Heart Fashion Show Committee.
It was my pleasure to serve on The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation Board of Directors for six years. A portion of that time I represented the Foundation on the Agency Board which gave me an overall perspective of the whole organization.
I felt honored when I was asked to return to the Foundation Board in 2014. It has been very exciting to be part of what is now The Arc Tampa Bay. It has created so many positive changes for everyone. I have been asked by friends why I feel so strongly about my dedication to The Arc Tampa Bay, and I answer by encouraging them to come to The Long Center and Harborside Art Studio, tour the facilities, and meet some of the most wonderful people in our community.
Shirley Long: Trustee
“Maybe I can interest my husband in this project – I may even ask him for $25,000!”. These were my thoughts as a Trustee of the Center Foundation in the mid-80’s. Dr. William Hale and Fred Fisher – admired figures in the community – and very persuasive – asked me to serve on the Board. I found myself without an excuse to reject their offer since I had been retired from a banking career for several years and had abandoned any thoughts of joining the Senior Golf Tour!
The Center Foundation was a joint venture of formerly UPARC, Clearwater for Youth, City of Clearwater Parks and Recreation and St. Petersburg Junior College. The conceptual plan was to build a venue for the programs of each partner. The Arc Tampa Bay facility on Calumet Street was over 20 years old and deteriorating. It did have a horticultural operation and many members of the community made seasonal visits to the site to purchase plants, trees and other landscaping items. The Arc was one of our favorite causes and I was concerned with the seemingly isolation of the consumers. Dr. Hale’s dream of mainstreaming The Arc Tampa Bay’s consumers with the users of the proposed venue fired me up to “get out there and raise money for the cause!”.
As I was making my lists and developing my strategies for fundraising, it was announced that the Longs were giving a million dollars for the construction of the Olympic-size pool at the proposed complex. It seems that while I was on the golf course, Fred and Zip were making big plans to surprise me. I responded with a successful direct mailing to everyone I knew to generously support the plan to “fill the pool at a dollar a gallon”.
“A $15 million, 147,000 square foot education and recreation Center doesn’t get designed, funded and built without a lot of hard work by a lot of good people”, said Fred Fisher. The Arc Tampa Bay and The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation were ably represented by so many concerned supporters, including, but not limited to – Nell Lokey, Herb Schwartz, John Simmons and Jim Leach. The Arc Tampa Bay Board unanimously voted to contribute $1 million from the proceeds of the sale of their current facilities to the construction of their new facilities at the Center.
The Center was up and running in July of 1990 and shortly thereafter, this time not a surprise to me, the name Harris E. “Zip” Long Center was unveiled. Fred had secured an additional gift from the Longs!
The rest is history. The Arc Tampa Bay Consumers are seen and heard and loving life each day at the Long Center. It is my pleasure to give my financial support to The Arc, and I am honored to serve my third term as Trustee of the Foundation, along with outstanding, caring members of the community.
The Arc Tampa Bay Foundation Trustees
The Arc Tampa Bay Representative
The Arc Tampa Bay Representative
Mary Lynne Hawkins
Shirley I. Long
The Arc Tampa Bay Representative