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Alarming Gift: Rotary Presents Family Resource Center With Security System

Oct. 23, 2008 – Residents and staff of the Family Resource Center's new shelter/safe house will sleep more soundly thanks to an idea from the Rotary Club of St. Thomas Sunrise a couple of years ago, inspired by Yolanda Thibou-Osaro, resource developer at the center.
Rotary members Susan MacFarland-Helton and Jeni Smith were considering a garden project when Thibou-Osaro suggested something else.
"What we will really need," she said, "is an alarm system for our new shelter."
Rotary jumped at the idea. With some creative financing, the local club's $2,000 contribution has grown to $16,100. MacFarland-Helton brought her financial background to bear with the aid of the Rotary matching grant program and assistance from fellow Rotarians in Florida.
A pleased MacFarland-Helton and Smith, presented the check to Bernadette B. Rogers, a consultant for ADT Security Systems, at a Wednesday morning ceremony.
"Rotary Sunrise, along with our sister club, the Rotary Club of New Tampa, partnered with the Rotary Foundation through a matching grant which allowed us to raise the money," MacFarland-Helton said.
Plaques to the local and Tampa Rotary clubs were presented from the center, thanking the organizations for their help in the new shelter, named for legendary resource director, Alice Hamilton.
Thomas Boatwright, Rotary Sunrise president, noted the contribution is part of the Rotary International 2008 'Make Dreams Real" effort to help curb child mortality,
It was all smiles as Rotary members chatted over a round table in a sunny room at the center, although what they discussed was anything but sunny. Thibou-Osaro explained that the contribution “makes it possible for us to continue to provide protection for women and children who are fleeing in fear from a dangerous home."
Thibou-Osaro said the shelter has 20 beds. The shelter has a full-time, 24-hour staff of three, with additional help from Spanish and French creole speaking counselors.
"It's in a peaceful, residential neighborhood," she said.
"We have come a long, long way," said Smith, who has been an FRC board member for years. She can recall the conditions 22 years ago.. "It shows what a public/private partnership can do."
The center gets some funds from the Community Development Block Grant program, Thibou-Osaro said, "However, we couldn't do what we do without the help of generous community partners like the Rotary clubs."
The center has been working on the new shelter, for four years. It opened last month. Though now it has an installed security system, it's still in need of practical items.
"We need a new refrigerator and stove," Thibou-Osaro said.
As for food for those items, she said, Nov. 22 is the annual FRC food drive at the Market Square East Cost-You-Less store. To donate, call FRC at 774-2944.

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