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Points of Light, CarMax, United Way Suncoast lift up Friends of Joshua House

More than 150 CarMax volunteers beautified the Friends of Joshua House property on Jan. 24. Points of Light, United Way Suncoast and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful partnered on the effort.

   How many people does it take to lift up a six-building, 11-acre complex that serves as a safe haven for nearly 50 foster children looking to overcome abuse, abandonment and neglect? If you ask the Points of Light Foundation and the CarMax Foundation, the answer is approximately 150.

   That’s how many CarMax employees came out to the Friends of Joshua House Foundation campus on Jan. 24 to lead an effort that reflected the essence of Points of Light. Points of Light is  an international nonprofit dedicated to engaging more people and resources in solving serious social problems through voluntary service. 

Providing healing

   United Way Suncoast serves as a proud affiliate of Points of Light. UWS accepted a grant from the organization to lead a transformational project in Hillsborough County for CarMax

   In tandem with our friends at Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, the collaborative effort called for beautifying the Joshua House property. The CarMax volunteers helped build a new chicken coop, benches, picnic tables, laid new mulch, painted, and cleaned inside the group homes.

   The day-long work under sunny skies and unseasonably warm weather had Friends of Joshua House executive director Dede Grundel gushing with approval.

    “It was a fantastic experience to work alongside such compassionate and enthusiastic CarMax volunteers,” Grundel said. “These folks played a crucial role in transforming our shelter into a haven that provides healing, enrichment and comfort to the foster children we serve.”  

Beautifying hearts, minds

   Some of the employees came from as far away as Fort Myers and Lakeland. While they could take pride in the clean-up effort, they also discovered that the work beautified their own hearts and minds.

   “One of our biggest values is putting people first and giving back in our community,” said Tanya L. Warren, senior consultant for the CarMax Foundation. “So for our folks to be able to come out and spend their day making an impact, and transforming a space like this is exactly what CarMax embodies.

   “Our people love events like this. They love to engage in this way.”

   Warren’s words echo one of the primary goals of the Points of Light Foundation. Its global effort seeks to connect individuals who want to help with nonprofits like United Way Suncoast and corporations that have the resources to solve big issues. Big projects like the collaboration at Joshua House underscore its mission, but there’s a second goal: 

   “Our hope is that they’ll live our values beyond today,” said Joey Guerin, manager of corporate solutions Joey Guerin. “We think events like this can have a domino effect and inspire and mobilize them to continue to contribute to the community.”

A legacy of giving

   Teaming with Points of Light, CarMax, Friends of Joshua House Foundation and Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful represents the same kind of community care that spurred the creation of United Way Suncoast 100 years ago. We trace our roots back to the formation of the Tampa Welfare League and Community League 100 years ago. Back then 16 nonprofits pulled together with civic leaders to strengthen the community. Today, that work continues.

   United Way Suncoast has always convened like-minded organizations to create a collective drive. We will continue that work as we move into our second century of service.

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