A Tampa Bay area nonprofit just got a much-needed surprise from the Rays.
The team’s $25,000 donation will go toward social justice initiatives and will help struggling workers and businesses.
On Opening Day, the Rays made waves across the baseball world with a tweet on the death of Breonna Taylor, killed by police on a no-knock warrant in Kentucky. The team also pledged to donate $100,000 to five groups that fight systemic racism.
The Pinellas County Urban League got a check for $25,000.
“Outside of being flabbergasted, I was excited,” said President and CEO Reverend Watson L. Haynes. “Every organization has that desire to really speak out on issues but there’s no opportunity to create that mechanism and now the Rays have given us the mechanism to do it.”
The money means more advocacy through areas like voter education, op-eds and community conversations with law enforcement. Rev. Haynes says it also means more help for those struggling because of the pandemic.
“This pandemic has impacted my business big time being that my entire business model is entertainment,” said Tiffany Moore.
She owns Moore Eventful Event Hall in Pinellas Park. The pandemic has dried up all the weddings, milestone birthdays and comedy shows she depends on to pay her bills.
Right now, she can operate at 50% capacity, but the economic impact has been so bad she’s got behind on her lease. Moore even had thoughts of quitting.
“I felt very scared, anxious,” she said. “I put in my two weeks notice with myself quite a bit. ‘Tiffany just pack up everything, just chalk it up to a pandemic happening’ but then I always get this voice that says ‘I’m not going to fail you, I got you, stick with it, it’s going to be OK.’”
She reached out to the Pinellas County Urban League for help. They connected her with an accountant to take charge of her books and helped her market to consumers in a growingly virtual environment.
It’s not just business owners. The agency is also helping the unemployed with programs like Zoom training sessions, housing, food banks and transportation.
The league says in the past week, 400 unemployed people reached out to them for help. Pre-pandemic they were helping out 26 businesses but now it’s 126 businesses relying on them.
Moore is grateful for the League’s help and the donation from the Rays that will help others like her.
“Putting their money where their mouth is,” she said. “A lot of people talk a good game, they issue statements on websites ‘we support you, we are with you’ all of that is well and great but if you are going to donate it helps more people and speaks volumes.”