• Felecia Gilmore-Long

5th Annual Suit Up & Show Up | cdc monthly - January 2018



CDC of Tampa presented the 5th Annual Suit Up & Show Up event on Friday, January 19th--in celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy.

This annual leadership retreat for young men ages 16-24 focuses on life skills, goal setting and financial literacy--while providing each young man in attendance with a tailored suit and all the accompanying accessories.

Over 85 students--from Middleton High School, Bowers-Whitley Career Center, Gary Adult Center, Carver Exceptional Center, Chamberlain High School, Tampa Bay Tech, THA's YouthBuild program, as well as HCC Ybor Campus attended this year's event.

Darion Reid was there, getting a suit, shirt, tie, socks and shoes. "I look good and I feel good, so that's two things that go together," Reid said enthusiastically.

He and the other young men were still energized from the day's opening ceremony emceed by WFLA's Rod Carter, which included greetings from Dr. Samuel Wright, HCC Ybor President Dr. Shawn Robinson, and keynote speaker Jameis Winston of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mr. Winston framed his motivational comments to the young men around the famous Dr. King quote: "We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."

Later, the young men rotated between motivational sessions and being fitted for the brand new suits. After lunch, attendees were treated to a panel discussion moderated by the Tampa Bay Times' Ernest Hooper, and featuring local leaders from the City of Tampa, Tampa Police Dept., Coca Cola Florida, Tampa Bay Lightning, Starbucks, VISTRA Communications and the Center for Manifestation.

At the conclusion of the day's events, each young man was presented with his new suit and accessories. Special thanks for all the volunteers who helped the young men select and properly size their apparel--which included representatives from DeWolf Styles, Classic Gentlemen Boutique, Suncoast Credit Union, Coca Cola Florida, City of Tampa, Humana and State Representative Sean Shaw's Office.

In reflecting on this year's event, and why it is so meaningful, CDC of Tampa President & CEO Ernest Coney said: “Young men in our community deserve to have the feeling you get when putting on a fine suit of clothes. Many participants at Suit Up & Show Up have never owned a suit or tied a tie. When you see their smiles when they slip on that jacket, when you see their confidence rise, when you see their attitude change, your soul is lifted up knowing they will remember this moment for the rest of their lives…"

High school student Keontae Thompson echoed Coney's sentiments. "I'm feeling good.

I feel like I'm, like, a better man," Thompson said. "It's all thanks to Suit Up & Show Up."

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