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A Ripple Effect of Kindness: Hands Across the Bay

By Allison Wilson

Hands Across the Bay is a Clearwater-based charitable organization with a lofty mission: "to positively impact the lives of as many Tampa Bay residents as possible." Founder and President Julie Weintraub (pictured below) has found a dedicated team working to do just that since 2010 by assisting families in need, advocating for change around social issues affecting the community and performing random acts of kindness.

One of the biggest ways Hands Across the Bay impacts the community is by supporting families facing hardship. Families in crisis can turn to the organization for financial assistance, mentorship, and guidance for rebuilding their lives.

Local father David Chauvin came to Hands Across the Bay looking for ways to pay his rent and electricity bill until he received his first paycheck from his new construction job. The organization helped David and his wife, Lori, get caught up on all their bills. They provided David with new boots and essential tools to start his job. David, Lori and their daughter were able to move into a new apartment and have been successfully supporting themselves ever since.

"We view each dollar we spend as an investment to help a family that truly wants to get back on their own feet," says Dimitra "Dee" Mantzaris, Hands Across the Bay Executive Assistant. "Many times this means we end up helping the families with much more than they ask for to give them the independence that they hope to obtain and making a much more impactful difference in our community."

In addition to helping families, Hands Across the Bay serves the community through its Random Acts of Kindness Initiative. The idea for this program came from the team's Violence Prevention Advocate, who survived an attempted murder by her high school ex-boyfriend. Throughout her recovery, she received an outpouring of love from the community. Simple acts of kindness made a huge impact and brought a smile to her face during a very difficult and emotional time. She brought this concept with her when she joined Hands Across the Bay.

"We decided as a team that this would be our chance to spread love throughout the community," Mantzaris says. "Many of our community heroes including firefighters, police officers and deputies, teachers and nurses do things every day to touch lives without recognition in return. We like to send love and smiles to those who we feel deserve it most."

The organization does this by giving children balloons and toys; sending cards and flowers to people in the community; offering treats, toys, and cold water to local pets; and providing dinner for police and firefighters.

The impact of Hands Across the Bay is multiplied by the support of community partner organizations such as Wheels of Success and the Kind Mouse, as well as Tampa Bay area residents.

"Everyday citizens can help by volunteering their time, donating to local charities and completing random acts kindness on their own," Mantzaris says. "The love and kindness will create a major ripple effect in the life of not only the recipient but also the donor."

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About The Author

Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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