If you’re planning a Tampa fundraising event and want a big crowd, you might want to ask Julie Jenkins. She brought a record crowd to the 125th-anniversary luncheon for the Children's Home Network in May, with over 500 people attending. Donations are still coming in but to date, initial corporate sponsorship and ticket sales from the event raised over $125,000.   

Jenkins credits the support of the community and presenting sponsors like the Vinik family, but friends of Jenkins credit her unwavering promotional efforts, inviting friends, family and all of her extensive contact list to her events.

Debbie Brooks said this, “Julie believes so deeply in what she does and is so unselfish. She really brings the community together by helping us promote each other. At my table, during the luncheon, she helped coordinate a team of players for my fundraising golf event. Julie is always trying to help someone.”  

A big draw for the event was guest speaker Regina Calcaterra, New York Times bestselling author of “Etched in the Sand”, an autobiographical tale about her abusive and painful childhood; and the challenges she and her siblings faced in the foster care system. Calcaterra is a gifted speaker and told a riveting story of stealing food to survive and her attempts to keep her siblings together while they faced intermittent homelessness. Her big message though was one of hope and that “no child is a lost cause.” The change of course for Calcaterra came from her high school English teacher, Mr. Ferry, who helped her with the educational foundation she needed to escape her circumstances. Calcaterra eventually became an attorney working in the same district that failed her, but with a new perspective helping children who find themselves in a similar situation.

Calcaterra’s message is exactly what The Children's Home Network is all about – showing at-risk children and families compassion and providing effective services to create opportunities for success. Founded in 1892, the network is Florida’s oldest charity on Florida’s west coast. They serve over 25,000 children and adults annually through programs and services aimed at strengthening the family unit as well as provided much-needed support for those healing from abuse and neglect.

Video courtesy of Webb Works Productions 

The move to the Children’s Home Network was an easy one for Jenkins. She’s passionate about children and bringing families together. She was previously at St Peter Claver where she created successful 'friendraiser' luncheons and spearheaded an annual silent auction event that put St Peter Claver on the map. She’s run for Tampa City Council in the past and remains politically active hosting events in her home in support of local candidates.

“Julie is an inspiration to so many people. Her never-ending energy, focus, hard work, and determination has helped re-shape and continuously improve our beautiful city of Tampa. She is very involved in all of our communities and is a master at connecting leaders to promote and instill positive change. I am honored to know Julie and I know that she has fantastic and creative ideas on how to make Tampa an even more exciting place to live,” said Natalie Wetherington, an attendee at the event.

Donations to the Children's Home Network can be made anytime and are always appreciated. They're dedicated to improving lives and changing life stories. Their next event is their 35th Annual Golf Classic November 5-6, 2017. Spread the word, share the love!