CLEARWATER - Tis the season of giving and there may be no greater gift than that of life through blood donation.
Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos achieved a milestone in his personal history of giving when he reached the 50 Gallon Donor Milestone at Clearwater OneBlood donor center.
Cretekos was honored for his legacy of donation during a celebration on Dec. 18.
“It’s really just another day for me,” Cretekos said of his donation and subsequent achievement. “There are a whole lot of people out there who donate more than I do.”
Cretekos said he first donated whole blood in the 1960s and then began donating platelets in the late 1970s after discovering a friend, who was undergoing open heart surgery, was in need of blood donations.
According to oneblood.org, whole blood donation is the traditional method of donating and allows for the drawing of red blood cells, platelets and plasma at one time. After a donation, the blood is tested and then separated into the three components and has the potential of saving three different lives. Whole blood donors are eligible to donate every 56 days. Platelets are collected through automated donations, which allows for specific components of blood to be gathered at a larger volume. It would take six to eight whole blood donors pooled together to produce one complete platelet dose. Cancer patients are primary recipients of platelets due to the harsh effects of chemotherapy.
CLEARWATER - Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, has created a program with Diagnostic Clinic Medical Group designed to help physicians and patients engage in important end-of-life conversations so that patients and caregivers can establish a plan for their health care that is centered on their goals and choices.
The Timely Access Partnership brings Suncoast’s expertise into DCMG’s multi-specialty physician practice. A Registered Nurse on-site at the clinic will collaborate with the physician, patient, and caregiver. In these sessions, patients will have the opportunity to clarify their goals and preferences for care through written documents and medical orders such as advance directives and Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment.
When a physician determines a palliative approach to care is indicated, patients will also be able to discuss palliative care options including hospice care when recommended. The TAP program is being funded through a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation, and services began in November at DCMG’s main campus in Largo.
Operation PAR, a nonprofit substance abuse and mental health treatment facility, has received a $1.5 million grant over the next three years from the Substance And Mental Health Services Administration.
The grant is through SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. The money will be used to provide treatment for over 60 pregnant or post-partum women and their children.
The grant will allow OperationPAR to continue its expert care treating women who have experienced trauma, substance abuse, and mental health issues and aid them and their children to recover and return to productive lives. Through Family Achievement in Recovery, women and their children live in a community setting, PAR Village, on the agency’s property at 13800 66th St. in Largo, and are aided by wellness navigators who assist them and their families. The project includes innovative techniques such as the use of electronic tablets for the women so that they can communicate with their counselors and receive eServices training, information and support. They will have access to information they need during treatment and the tablets will be used after recovery to help monitor their progress.
CLEARWATER - February has been designated American Heart Month, and BayCare Health System is starting early and extending it to connect all four counties it serves to better heart health with free heart-healthy screenings.
From Jan. 31 through March 19, BayCare’s community health screening team will embark on a 12-stop tour to its hospitals and health care facilities. All screenings will be offered from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include blood pressure, blood sugar/glucose, Body Mass Index and cholesterol. The screening team will also answer questions and offer tips that can lead to healthier lifestyle choices and help prevent heart disease.
The free heart-healthy screenings will be offered in the following communities: Carrollwood, Lutz, New Port Richey, Plant City, Safety Harbor, St. Petersburg, South Tampa, Tampa, Trinity, Westchase, and Winter Haven.
In December 2014, the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas Inc., established a special award in memory of a long-time aging advocate, Patricia (Pat) J. Bell of Largo who passed away in September 2014.
Bell had a 35-year career with the state of Florida, almost entirely specializing in aging and adult services. Her community involvement, serving on the Florida Council on Aging and the AAAPP board of directors, was also aging focused. Bell was greatly admired for her devotion, dedication and professionalism in the aging network.
In appreciation of Bell’s lengthy service to elders, this first-time award will honor an individual who has spent a significant portion of their career in the field of aging in Pinellas and/or Pasco counties.
Oneblood, the local nonprofit blood bank, needs healthy people willing to donate. Many of its regular donors are sick with the flu. Attendance is down at local blood drives - again due to the flu.
“Blood donors who are battling the influenza virus are not able to donate until they are well,” according to a press release from Oneblood. “The blood center is urging all blood donors who are healthy to please donate now while they are feeling well.”
Four cities in Pinellas have been recognized by the Florida Department of Health as 2015 Healthy Weight Community Champions. Throughout the state, 65 communities achieved this distinction - an increase from the 38 communities recognized in 2014.
Between August and December 2014, local governments were invited to submit best-practice policies they have implemented in their jurisdictions over the year. City and county governments submitted evidence-based policies to increase physical activity and improve nutrition.
The Pinellas communities that met the criteria were the cities of Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park and Safety Harbor.
New Year's resolutions that start with eating more healthfully don't have to go by the wayside because you don't know where to find fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables near your home or work.
Let the Pinellas County 2014-2015 Guide to Farmers Markets & Produce Stands be your map to a healthier new year.
The guide lists 15 farmers markets from East Lake to St. Pete Beach by city and by the day of the week when they're open. Produce stands are listed by city, with addresses and phone numbers for each. Locations where vendors accept SNAP/EBT for purchases are highlighted.
LARGO - Just in time for that New Year’s resolution to wear off, innovative stroller fitness program Baby Boot Camp is helping moms from across the country get in the best shape of their lives with the Mother Love Fitness Challenge.
And for the second year in a row, Baby Boot Camp will donate $2 for every Mother Love Fitness Challenge registration purchased through May 31, 2015, to the charity Girls on the Run. The 2014 Mother Love Fitness Challenge raised $1,600 for the nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.
“Women start making New Year’s resolutions to get fit, and most realize after a couple of weeks they could use a little encouragement and guidance, which is where our Mother Love Fitness Challenge comes in to the rescue,” said Kristen Horler, founder and CEO of Baby Boot Camp. “And we are so excited to once again support Girls on the Run as they promote fitness and healthy body images.”
Chapel-By-The-Sea BeachWalk/Walk CLEARWATER – The sixth annual Chapel-By-The-Sea BeachWalk/Walk – featuring a walk along Clearwater Beach and a breakfast at the Chapel-By-The-Sea – will be Saturday, Jan. 31, starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Palm Pavilion, 18 Bay Esplanade on Clearwater Beach.
This popular event supports the Religious Community Services Food Bank and The Haven Domestic Violence Center. The event begins with coffee and snacks at the Palm Pavilion at 7:30 a.m. prior to the 2-mile walk ending at Chapel-By-The-Sea where breakfast will be served courtesy of Clear Sky Cafe.
In addition, the very popular silent auction will be available during breakfast.
Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Palm Pavilion. All participants will receive a BeachWalk/Walk T-shirt. Preregis-tration cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children 6 to 18. Children 5 and younger are free. Visit www.chapelbythesea.net.
Crop Till You Drop LARGO – Join fellow scrappers to crop, trim, and embellish at this year’s Crop Till You Drop Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 at the Highland Recreation Complex, 400 Highland Ave.
The scrapbook extravaganza begins Friday, Jan. 30, 4 p.m., and will continue until Sunday, Feb. 1, 5 p.m., closing from midnight until 8 a.m. each morning. Scrappers will enjoy prize drawings, giveaways and fresh new ideas from fellow scrapbookers.
The cost is $100 per person for the weekend or $60 for Saturday only for those who register by Jan. 1. After that, the price is $125 for the weekend or $75 for Saturday.
The full weekend includes six meals, snacks, drinks and a giveaway.
Evening Extraordinaire PALM HARBOR – The Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce will host Evening Extraordinaire 2015: Hollywood Nights, the chamber’s 18th annual gala event, on Saturday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m., at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, 36750 U.S. 19 N., Palm Harbor.
The event – described in a press release as a “red carpet soiree” – will offer attendees an opportunity to enjoy the best of Palm Harbor area restaurants and businesses. Guests also will enjoy wine tasting compliments of B21 Wine.
Tickets are $50 each or two for $90. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Palm Harbor Library Raise the Roof Campaign.
For information, call 784-4287.
Quilting Under the Palms CLEARWATER – The Quilter’s Crossing Quilt Guild of Palm Harbor will present its 14th Biennial Quilt Show, Quilting Under the Palms, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 30-31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Countryside Recreation Center, 2640 Sabal Palms Drive.
Admission for the event is $7 for one day or $10 for both days.
There will be 200 traditional and contemporary quilts on display. In addition, there will be a small quilt auction, a boutique exhibit, vendors, door prizes, raffle baskets and a drawing for a free sewing machine courtesy of Sue’s Bay Area Sewing.
Opportunity quilt ticket sales proceeds benefit The Wounded Warriors Project. Tickets for the quilt may be purchased at the show for $1 each.
Rainwater harvesting workshop ST. PETERSBURG – Educators from UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County will host a free, informative workshop on Rainwater Harvesting Saturday, Jan. 31, 1 to 2:30 p.m., at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE.
During this 60-minute program, participants will learn the basics of how to conserve water in their landscape and how to build and care for a rain barrel. Participants also will learn how the collected water may be used for plant beds, potted plants and special plant collections.
Completed rain barrels may be purchased for $35 in advance of the event. If the rain barrel will be transported in a vehicle, it is recommended to bring something to cover the seats to protect them from possible soil or moisture. This program is intended for an adult audience.
Tarpon Springs Market TARPON SPRINGS – The Tarpon Springs Market opens Saturday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and continues Saturdays through June 27, 2015, rain or shine.
Due to a scheduling conflict with both the primary and alternate locations, the market will be closed on Nov. 22.
The market will feature ethnic food, imports, crafts and a variety of entertainment. Fresh locally grown organic produce and locally caught seafood also will be offered when in season and available. Parking and admission are free.
The primary location is in the downtown shopping district of Tarpon Springs at the corner of Pinellas Avenue (Alt. U.S. 19) and Tarpon Avenue. The alternate location is Craig Park at South Spring Boulevard and Pineapple Street for those weekends with other events scheduled in the Mother Meres lot.
Wildflower Garden Club meeting TARPON SPRINGS – The Wildflower Garden Club will meet Saturday, Jan. 31, 9 to 11 a.m., at Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road.
The Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve will be getting their gardening hands dirty in the preserve’s wildflower garden. Participants should bring garden gloves and hat. Morning snacks are usually provided. There is no cost to participate.