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Girls Inc. benefits from local grants
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Girls Inc.’s kitchen in Pinellas Park is also being remodeled. It will have new cafeteria tables and chairs for the lunch room, and the kitchen will get new commercial-grade equipment.
PINELLAS PARK – Major renovations are underway at Girls Inc., 7700 61st St. N., after the organization received a $280,000 Pinellas County Community Development Block Grant.

The biggest portion of the project is a new state-of-the-art STEM lab, which will include separate islands, high-powered microscopes and other equipment needed for science projects.

Other areas of the Girls Inc. facility are being remodeled as well. The kitchen is getting a complete overhaul, with new lunch tables and commercial equipment. The girls also will now have a library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and an updated art room, and the building’s lobby and bathrooms are being redone as well.

The project began Jan. 26 and should be completed in about four weeks, said Kristina Fortner, executive director, in time for their spring break camp.

In the meantime, about 60 girls are meeting daily at Pinellas Park’s Youth Park for the organization’s after-school program.

In addition to the aesthetic upgrade, Girls Inc. has a lot going on this spring.

It has received a $35,000 grant from the Juvenile Welfare Board for non-operating capital expenses. This was used to purchase the new cafeteria tables and chairs, as well as a new Smart Board and tablets for the girls to use on site.

The organization also is hosting several new events.

On Sunday, April 12, Girls inc. will hold its first Ride for the Girls Charity Poker Run. The event will start at Jim’s Harley-Davidson, 2805 54th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, with stops at Rick’s Reef, 6712 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach; The Brown Boxer, 15000 Madeira Way, Madeira Beach; and the Porpoise Pub, 8701 Seminole Blvd. The event will end at Quaker Steak & Lube, 10400 49th St., at 2:30 p.m.

The first hand costs $15 per person; additional hands are $5 each. Prizes will be awarded for best and worst hands, and there will be a silent auction and 50/50 raffle. Fran Haasch Law Group sponsors the event.

“It’s a unique way of letting people know who we are and what we do and how they can support us,” said Kathie Michael, community development coordinator for Girls Inc.

The organization also will host its first “friendraiser” on Thursday, Feb. 12, 5:30 to 7 p.m., at Sylvia’s Restaurant, 642 22nd St. S., St. Petersburg. Appetizers will be provided and Fortner will give a presentation on Girls Inc.

Plans are also underway for Hamburger Mary’s in Clearwater to host a bingo night to benefit the organization.

And the group’s annual STEM luncheon will be held Wednesday, May 13, at The Birchwood, 340 Beach Drive NE St., St. Petersburg.

Girls Inc. also was recently approached by the NCAA, which will bring the Women’s Final Four basketball tournament to Tampa in early April.

The NCAA will hold a special basketball workshop for Girls Inc. girls ages 5 through 17 on Sunday, April 5.

“With all of these efforts, we’re trying to get the community to see us as an expert on girls issues,” Fortner said. “We want to be seen as more than an after-school program. I think we can do that by reaching out to these diverse demographics. Everyone has daughters; everyone has mothers; everyone has women in their lives.”

For more information, visit www.g­irlsi­nc-pi­nella­s.org.
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