Historical Feature Articles: Community Events and Health

This is a sampling of the feature articles I wrote for Cultural Affairs Magazine in Tampa.

-Gabi

Naprapathy… Say What? (January 1999)

Aaaaahhh… massage. Many people enjoy the relaxation that it brings to them, whether they go to a professional as a treat to themselves or convince their significant others or friends to give them a few minutes of backrub bliss.

Most agree that massages feel good, but the benefits of massage go well beyond the immediate. Massage brings about better blood circulation and mends connective tissues in the body- muscles, tendons and ligaments- and this can lead to more flexibility and better overall health. Although some types of massage are not officially recognized in this country, the benefits of massage have kept the art popular for hundreds of years, and as time progresses, it becomes more of an accepted form of health care.

Naprapathy is a form of massage therapy that combines massage with traditional medical knowledge- it is an actually an offshoot of chiropractics. Steve Lampert, the bay area’s only practitioner, had much to say on the subject of massage therapy in a recent interview.

“Naprapathy is the best of both worlds, between medicine and massage,” he explained. “Good spinal health is a cross between flexibility and strength. When an injury occurs that requires medical attention, it’s usually not because the person was trying to do something extraordinary. More often than not, they were in their usual range of motions and a problem that they were not aware of came to the surface suddenly.”

Postural habits also influence spinal health; depending on how we carry ourselves throughout the day, we could be placing extra stress on certain areas of our frames, and these habits can come back to haunt. Physically traumatic events, such as car accidents, can cause these problems to “fast-forward” into injuries that require massage or chiropractic treatments.

“The thing of it is that it takes so long for the human body to break down. When it does, and people try to correct it, it can take two, three or four years to come back to normal,” said Lampert.

What can be done to avoid the stress of dealing with these types of cumulative injuries? He recommends a combination of diet and exercise that many resolve to take on at one time or another, only to be sidetracked by the demands of normal, everyday lives. While nutrition is important, drinking water and other non-carbonated juice aids with the flexibility of muscles and joints- an important point in overall muscular and skeletal health. Regular body maintenance also includes stretching, recommends Lampert.

“Stretching- once a week is better than not stretching at all, but if you can stretch four or five times a week, you can increase your range of motion 40 to 50 percent.”

He approaches his patients with a whole-life approach to diagnosing; he learns about their lives as well as their symptoms, and this helps his patients break unhealthy cycles in an effort to feel better. But, he adds, the patient must be the one to decide to change; no amount of advice can change someone else’s health.

Massage therapy can improve quality of life, and whether it is done out of necessity or otherwise, it is perhaps the best thing you can do for your physical body that doesn’t require you to buy special gym clothes or even break a sweat.

An Evening in Venice (October 1998)

“You are going to be taken to fourteenth century Venice- you will forget that it’s 1998,” says Caroline Eastman-Eanell, the chairperson of marketing and publicity for this year’s benefit for the Crisis Center of Hillsborough County. Their aim is “to create a fun, exciting and original event that Tampa Bay could enjoy, and benefit a good cause,” according to Eastman-Eanell. “An Evening in Venice” will take place on October 24 at the Tampa Convention Center, beginning at 7 p.m.

A masquerade ball is an annual tradition begun four years ago by Honorary Chairman Linda McClintock-Greco to benefit the Crisis Center, which has assisted the Tampa Bay community for the past 25 years. The funds raised at the masquerade ball will benefit the Crisis Center in the upcoming year. Jerry Vasquez, the center’s director, is looking forward to the event for several reasons.

“We offer so many programs that we don’t have a single focus. Because of that diversity, it’s important that the community knows about the Crisis Center and its mission. As far as the benefit is concerned, it’s fun to do something like this and have an enjoyable night and bring support to the people in the area who aren’t as advantaged.” He adds, “It’s a friend-raiser as well as a fund-raiser.”

Support from near and far has been donated to the event. Local volunteers are producing the event, and artists, dancers and professionals are donating their time and talents. Williams-Gerard Productions, a Washington, D.C.- based company known for producing exciting and extravagant events such as inaugural balls, is loaning props, ideas and performers to the event. Among their producers, former Tampa native Sally-Anne Andrews will be lending her talents in creating, producing and managing the evening’s festivities. “It’s leaps and bounds over what it has been,” she promises. “It’s truly a new event.”

Local experts on Venetian history and dancers schooled in Venetian dance will assist with creating an exceptional experience for all attendees. A live art auction featuring the work of local artist Joyce Lazzara will take place during the evening as well as a silent auction of heirloom jewelry. Rick Nafe of the Devil Rays will emcee a live auction that includes a trip for two to Venice, and Gayle Guyardo of WFLA-TV will be mistress of ceremonies for the entire evening. Professional ballerina Luisa Meshekoff and her dancers will entertain the ranks with Il Commedia dell’ art, a comedic dance performance, and the surrounding music will be played by local, national and international musicians.

Many surprises are in store for the attendees of this year’s masquerade, and they are encouraged to wear fancy costumes or gowns and tuxedoes. All guests will be issued a mask, unless they bring their own. Organizers are confident that this year’s ball will even surpass the strong community and corporate support shown for the masquerade ball last year.

The event will begin with a champagne reception along the “Grand Canal” of Tampa Bay at dusk, decorated as a courtyard with statues, fountains and other whimsical touches. The Grand Ballroom will be transformed into the Doge’s Palace, where guests will enjoy a Venetian banquet accompanied by music and dancing.

Though the night promises to be a festive event, the benefits and proceeds will support the needs of the community well after the enchanted night has ended.

“Every community needs a 24-hour crisis center,” says Eastman-Eanell. Just last year, the Crisis Center assisted 162,239 community members whose lives have been affected by abuse, neglect, poverty and despair. The staff includes many volunteers who are trained by the professional counselors. “There are a lot of ways that they reach out,” she continues. “Whatever walk of life you come from, the Crisis Center can help.”

“Art for Life” Benefit Returns (September 1998)

“The entire community has come together once again to support the Tampa AIDS Network,” says Linda Netzer, a co-chair for TAN’s all-volunteer steering committee. She and over one thousand volunteers will work the eighth annual “Art for Life” auction at the Tampa Convention Center on September 26. The proceeds from the auction will benefit the Tampa AIDS Network.

Over 400 pieces of art will be available for auction. All works have been donated by local, national and international artists, and some hail from private galleries and collectors. Art professionals will be on hand to judge some of the artwork at a special auction; other pieces will be available for bids in either a silent or voice auction. In addition to the artwork, local businesses will donate products and services to be auctioned off, and children’s artwork submitted from area schools will be judged and auctioned as well. The winner of the Children’s Art Program will see his or her work go up for auction at the voice auction along with the works of professional artists.

Local artist Eileen Goldenberg has donated her talents and created a design for this year’s fundraiser. Her design can be found on posters, t-shirts, mugs and hats as well as the event’s program. These items will be available at the event, and the proceeds will also go to TAN.

Although much of the night’s emphasis will be on the artwork, the money generated from this effort will make a lasting impression on the Bay area.

“Raising funds, of course, is the first priority,” says Don Bentz, the Special Events Coordinator for TAN. “A lot of people are developing the attitude that the AIDS crisis is over, which isn’t true at all. With more people becoming infected, it stretches our resources very thin.”

Linda Netzer adds, “People are still becoming infected. Although the new drug protocols are helping people live longer and better lives, many people are becoming resistant to these drugs and not everyone can afford them. The work of TAN is more important than ever. Because of these changes in the disease, TAN’s clients are living longer, thus needing more, not less, services.”

The Tampa AIDS Network provides many services for local people who are infected with or affected by AIDS. They provide case management for patients and coordinate their health care. They offer counseling to AIDS patients as well as their family members and caretakers. Approximately 225 people per month take advantage of their anonymous HIV testing services, and their food pantry provides nourishment to approximately 40 people per day. Other programs have included housing for patients, which they hope to expand this year, and a summer camp for children affected by AIDS. TAN’s most public role is in outreach education, which “touches about 49,000 people per year,” according to Don Bentz. Locations ranging from bars to churches set the stage for AIDS education in our community.

“We’re hoping for a better public awareness that ‘Art for Life’ can generate,” says Bentz about the fundraiser. “A wide variety of people come and hopefully get the HIV-AIDS message.”

Tai Chi (October 1998)

In our search for balance in our lives, we ultimately want to create a synergy between body and mind. A series of exercises known as Tai Chi Chaun, or Tai Chi, may be the answer to our quest for mental and physical fitness.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese art of self-defense, slowed down into smooth, fluid movements that revive the body and mind into a state of quiet consciousness. It can be learned and performed by anyone, regardless of age or degree of health. The slow movements allow for mental tranquility, as they increase the circulation and mobilization of joints, ligaments and muscles. Other benefits of the exercise include increased respiration, stabilization of the nervous system, and better functioning of other organs. Tai Chi is also known to relieve stress and improve mental attitudes, an added bonus for anyone who works, stands in line, or deals with rush-hour traffic in the course of the day. It is for this reason that Tai Chi appeals to different age groups for different reasons.

This ancient art appeals to adults who seek a way to balance themselves in the midst of their active lifestyles. Those who are recovering from physical injuries or who want to maintain balance and flexibility into their senior years also practice Tai Chi as a means of healing or preventive medicine.

The design of the movements is based upon the concepts of a micro-cosmic orbit as well as a macro-cosmic orbit. The micro-cosmic orbit is a flow of energy which vertically encircles the body, while the macro-cosmic orbit circulates throughout the limbs and the trunk of the body. These orbits coincide with other energy channels in the body, and as a result, cause the psychic centers of the body to bring healing and a state of peace to the mind. This explains the healing element of Tai Chi, since this unimpeded flow of energy relaxes the muscles of the body and aids in the treatment of nervous, organic or skeletal problems through increased blood circulation and better flexibility of joints, ligaments and muscles.

Presently, over 70 percent of the population of China performs Tai Chi daily. Though it is used to treat conditions such as nervous tension, rheumatism, ulcers, high blood pressure, poor circulation and arthritis, Tai Chi is performed daily as a preventive medicine- a way of acquiring and maintaining good health. The series of movements is a type of moving meditation that relaxes the body, which then releases the body’s energy flow (known as Chi) and puts the mind into a state of quiet associated with meditation.

Tai Chi can be learned through classes, video tapes or books on the ancient art, but for the beginner, instructional lessons are recommended to ensure that the poses and movements are correct.

Historical Feature Articles: Company Newsletter

I tend to write on a freelance basis more when I am between full-time jobs, and when I am employed full-time, I tend to write for the internal newsletters for my employer. I have added several articles below that will give an idea of the articles I have written to report company news.

Thanks,

Gabi

T. Rowe Price Internal Newsletter, 2004-2006

T. Rowe Price Tampa Supports Community Zoo through Volunteering

For the past four years, T. Rowe Price volunteers have enthusiastically supported the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. Much of the credit belongs to the Tampa Volunteer Committee, which partnered with the Lowry Park Zoo administration and developed a variety of fun events that made volunteer opportunities accessible to the entire Tampa office.

Located on 41 acres, the zoo has 1,600 animals representing 330 species including the endangered manatee. The zoo, one of the nation’s top mid-size animal parks, which Child magazine called the “best zoo for families,” has a Florida wildlife center and manatee hospital, aviary, primate exhibits and an Australian-themed children’s zoo. About 700,000 people visit the zoo annually.

The Tampa Volunteer Committee has participated in zoo events that include charity runs, Halloween family nights, and food festivals. With more than a dozen events held at the zoo annually, there have been ample opportunities for T. Rowe Price associates to get involved.

Tampa associates appreciate the opportunity to help the zoo and sign up in droves for the annual WaZoo, a beer and wine tasting to be held on August 6 this year, and the Zoofari, a food festival featuring samplings from 80 Tampa area restaurants.

“I personally like to see the amount of turnout for these events, whatever their reasons for attending, both volunteer and participants alike,” says Heather Williams, who transferred from the Owings Mills office to Tampa in 2004. “The community is gathering to support a nonprofit organization. To see a community uniting together is grand!”

“Working at the zoo is one of the most rewarding places to volunteer,” says Mindy Miller, another longtime volunteer and zoo supporter. “The events are fun, the families attending have a great time, and you get to see all the animals you are saving by being there.”

General Manager Joe Parlapiano says zoo personnel have shown their appreciation to the T. Rowe Price volunteers. “The zoo employees make volunteering at the zoo a joy for everyone. They joke with the volunteers and make us feel appreciated for the time we are giving up for the zoo,” he says.

Tampa associates who want to participate in T. Rowe Price’s volunteer efforts at the Lowry Park Zoo should contact Ulrich McLachlan or Becky Serpico for more information.

T. Rowe Toasters Practice the Art of Speech

Throughout T. Rowe Price, many participants have joined Toastmasters to improve their public speaking skills, but that is just the beginning. Each meeting has a structure to keep the words and ideas flowing, but then again, each meeting is different.

The T. Rowe Toasters in Tampa have a theme for each meeting, such as:

  • A funny thing happened…
  • Elvis Presley
  • Doctor’s office
  • Actor’s improvisational workshop
  • Oscar night
  • Jeopardy

As the winner of the Fall Speech Contest, I am the reigning speech champion of the T. Rowe Toasters in the Tampa office. What did this entail? Did I tell a moving story about how my beloved pet dog saved me from a fire or explain how everyone in my audience could perform better on the job? Not even close! My winning speech was about a trip I took to Ireland as a student with a gaggle of other women between the ages of 18 and 25. It chronicled our adventures running around western Ireland, buying Doc Marten boots, and getting to know those shy Irishmen, especially one who worked at the bed and breakfast where we stayed. We tormented him with our attention until he suggested a fun place to go out at night, and that is how the speech “Always ask the locals where to go” came about.

This fall, the group is conducting a membership drive throughout the office. Check out the awesome testimonials to find out how fun this club is for its members: “Toastmasters meetings have been very fun, and I’ve never heard so much colorful language at work since K.C. Carling’s first speech,” said Zach McGrath, who is the current president of the club.

Brad Carnall has this to say about his experiences in the club: “I used to stumble and stammer over my words and get really nervous when I spoke in front of a group. Now I have the opportunity to do that every week!”

“If I want to get anything out of this club, it’s noticing the ‘ahs’ and ‘ums.’ It makes a world of difference in your presentation,” added Tara Evans, who recently gave a speech about her travels in Egypt.

“If I had a nickel for every time Zach said ‘um,’ I’d have enough to match my own,” quipped Dave Gonzalez.

I recommend the group for anyone who needs a creative outlet at work. Perhaps participating in the club won’t get you promoted, but it may give you something to look forward to, something that you can use to challenge yourself. Also, it is a great way to be refreshed from your usual job duties. The meetings, which take place from noon until 1 p.m. on Wednesdays in the café, provide a lot of comic relief, too. Visitors are welcome anytime!

On a more serious note, joining the club also offers participants a chance to interact with work colleagues at all levels. The practice that the club offers participants with everyday communication will come in handy for future job interviews, public speaking engagements and other situations.

The T. Rowe Toasters 763878 was launched this January. This branch of the Toastmasters was spearheaded by Tampa Human Resources and Susan Ray as part of Associate Development Program. It was later chartered by Toastmasters International in March. As of October 18, 2005, members of this club have delivered 69 speeches.

Initially, the group was inspired by the Trusty Talkers Club from the Colorado Springs office, which was chartered in 2004. All Toastmasters clubs within T. Rowe Price receive financial support from the company.

Interview with Tampa’s New Vice President, John Townsend

We all know that it is nice to be wanted, but it is even nicer when a former employer seeks you out.

John Townsend, a vice president with T. Rowe Price Services, first started working for T. Rowe Price in 1993, but left for a position with BISYS in 2000. Now he’s back and managing the Tampa office.

When he started his career, Townsend figured he’d work for T. Rowe Price for a couple of years and then move on. He found a number of opportunities at T. Rowe Price, and, aside from his stint at BYSIS, he has spent most of his career here. “As growth happens, opportunities come along. As a professional, I can learn anything from anyone at any time,” Townsend explains.

Rewards of Teaching

Townsend, or JT as he is sometimes called, obtained a bachelor’s degree from Randolph-Macon College in English and originally intended to be a teacher and writer. He has found, however, that the process of teaching associates new skills and helping them succeed—even surpass expectations—parallels the rewards of teaching in a classroom.

JT defines the secret of his success as it relates to learning and getting involved. His advice to anyone would be, “Make yourself as invaluable to as many people as you can. Decide that the person who is the most responsible for your success is yourself. Others will help you, but you will decide how far you can go.”

“I’ve never understood people who sleepwalk through life or work. I’d rather not do something than do it halfway. When I’m out the door to work, I’m already thinking about it,” he says.

“This is a glass-half-full office,” says JT. He plans to tap into the energy of the Tampa office more in his current position. “My goal for the Tampa office is for it to be thought of first and foremost when it’s time to expand the business. Don’t assume that the path in front of you is blocked. It’s the greatest mistake people can make, especially in this office.”

Management Style

JT plans to be out on the floor with reps, listening in on calls, and peeking over shoulders to get more familiar with the departments he manages. JT wants to know “what’s going well and what’s not going well” with the systems, policies, and so on.

At this time, JT does not plan to look for a permanent campus in Tampa. “Just because you don’t own the bricks and mortar doesn’t mean you’re not staying here,” he adds.

His goal throughout his career has not been to follow a certain mentor but to learn the best skills from of the people he’s worked with and go on from there. “There are so many different things to learn, if you take the time to listen,” he says.

Role Model

JT’s celebrity role model would be Tony Dungy, the current coach of the Indianapolis Colts. When the Colts moved from Baltimore in 1983, JT, like any good Baltimorean, was upset and vowed to do everything in his power to root against the Colts. Years later, Dungy became coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, built up the team and saw good results on the field. Then, when Dungy was fired, he graciously thanked the Buccaneers management for the opportunity to work with the franchise. The Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl the following year.

“Winning or losing, he is the same person,” Townsend says. Now that Dungy is coach of the Indianapolis Colts, JT can’t root against him but continues to root against Indianapolis fans.

Whether you want to discuss football or business, JT is available to do just that. Look him up or stop by his office on the eighth floor. Also, check your appointment calendar, as he may be looking over your shoulder in the near future to learn more about what you do.

TRP Earns Workplace of the Year Designation

The employees of T. Rowe Price Tampa were named the United Way of Tampa Bay’s Workplace Team of the Year for 2003, based on a nomination from the Lowry Park Zoo. In 2003, T. Rowe Price volunteers contributed over 1,250 hours of service to the zoo. Amy Frye (Retirement Services – Tampa) represented T. Rowe Price Tampa and accepted the award on the office’s behalf.

In addition, the Lowry Park Zoo presented T. Rowe Price Tampa with the “Lovy Award” for Workplace Group of the Year and nominated a member of the Tampa Volunteer Committee, Ulrich McLachlan (Retirement Client Services Tampa), for the United Way of Tampa Bay’s Volunteer of the Year award in the area of leadership. McLachlan has increased T. Rowe Price Tampa’s involvement in the zoo’s fundraising events 100% since his initial involvement with the zoo began in 2001. In addition to organizing volunteers, he also serves on the steering committees for several zoo events and assists with the marketing and event planning staff.

The Lowry Park Zoo obtains much of its funding through special events that are held throughout the year, and these events are staffed primarily by volunteers. For major fundraisers, such as WaZoo and ZooFari, which are food and beverage tasting events, T. Rowe Price volunteers made up one-third of the volunteer force. Amanda Lancaster, the Volunteer Programs Coordinator for the zoo, wrote the following in her nomination for the United Way award:

“Over 150 T. Rowe Price volunteers assisted with every phase of the events, from planning to cleanup. They…shined as our largest, hardest working, and most dependable volunteer group. Though they were scheduled to work just one shift during the event, many of them volunteered to cover additional shifts when their scheduled replacements failed to show up… T. Rowe Price volunteers make it very clear that they are here because of their commitment to our cause.”

She continued to praise T. Rowe Price Tampa for assisting during zoo holiday events Zoo Boo and Wild Winter Wonderland:

“These events are not nearly as popular with volunteers, and they are always a struggle to staff. Learning of our difficulties, the T. Rowe Price team generously volunteered to cover six nights of these events. After full workdays, they spent evenings cheerfully staffing rides, games, and exhibits – even donning costumes to frighten guests in the haunted house.”

“Over the last few years, it’s grown from being 10 volunteers for our first event with the zoo to having over 130 volunteers for that same event four years later,” said Ulrich McLachlan. “A lot of people enjoy being at Lowry Park Zoo. They enjoy being around the animals and are happy to support those animals and that organization specifically. The volunteers enjoy watching the zoo grow and knowing that they are a part of that growth.”

The United Way of Tampa Bay Team of the Year for 2003 Award and the Lovy Award are proudly displayed in the glass case in the Tampa Investor Center.

Longboat Key: A Nearby Vacation Getaway

If you drive down Interstate 275 until it merges with I-75 and follow the signs to the beach, you’d be surprised at how quickly you’ll end up in a vacation paradise. Longboat Key is know as one of the more expensive beaches in Southwest Florida, but there are smaller hotels and time-share condominiums that can be found in this area, especially in the off-season between June and September, that offer a great time at a reasonable price. For a taste of Florida as it was years ago, check out the Starfish Motel.

The beaches in this area vary, but from the powdery sand of Coquina Beach to the excellent (and pricey) shopping at St. Armand’s Circle, the area offers a lot of fun to visitors even when the famous Florida sunshine is hiding behind clouds. For the more nature-oriented visitor, the Mote Marine Aquarium offers a glance into the creature that may be swimming a few yards away from you as you frolic in the Gulf of Mexico, blissfully unaware that they are lurking so closely. Sharks, rays, dolphins, manatees, turtles and fish can be seen- and sometimes touched- at the aquarium. The Mote Marine Aquarium also rescues and rehabilitates injured marine animals, but these animals are not viewed directly by the public, although sometimes visitors may see a videotaped show of baby whales and other animals frolicking in their tanks.

For bird lovers, the Pelican Man’s Bird Sanctuary is situated next to the aquarium, and for a donation of $4, visitors may view some injured and rehabilitated birds that are housed in the shelter. Many birds are rehabilitated and released; however, if the bird is permanently disabled and unable to fend for itself in the wild, then it becomes a lifelong resident of the sanctuary.

Wildlife cruises also offer a look into the flora and fauna of the area. Usually dolphins will swim alongside the boat, while glimpses of mangrove trees and exotic water birds dominate any boat tour.

Aside from feasting the eyes on beautiful wildlife, the area restaurants provide fresh-off-the-boat seafood and other delights for the visiting gourmand. In addition, there are many ice cream shops in the vicinity of the beach in general, and Longboat Key in particular.

If your goal is to get away from the “mainland” and relax for a few days in the sun, then Longboat Key may be a great vacation destination for you to enjoy.