It’s hard to believe that ANYTOWN 2022 was two months ago. With fall slowly creeping in, the programming team has spent our time since ANYTOWN reflecting on our experiences and building out programming for the rest of the year. With so much coming up, we quickly realized how much we missed our Delegates and decided to host an event to bring our ANYTOWN 2022 family back together.
With the kick-off of Advocacy Academy around the corner, we thought it would be the perfect time connect and plan for this year. Advocacy Academy, our year-round leadership program for those ANYTOWN graduates still passionate about making a difference in their communities and remaining connected with us here at Community Tampa Bay will begin meeting on Sept 30th. This year, we garnered so much interest that we had to create an application process. We received 30 applications from this summer’s Delegates who want to continue their ANYTOWN experience (they love us, they really love us!).
Thanks to our partners the Tampa Bay Rays and generous donors, we enjoyed a suite filled with Delegates and volunteers to watch the Rays take on the Texas Rangers. With my work background being in sports and specifically baseball, I was excited to watch America’s pastime and enjoy a hot dog or two. The excitement quickly refocused when we received a whopping 25 RSVPs from ANYTOWN graduates and future Advocacy Academy participants! My baseball cap came off and was replaced with my program coordinator hat. When the initial email went out the excitement and anxiousness for seeing all my favorite people on the planet grew. I knew I was going to be bombarded with questions, jokes, and “tea” (as the kids say).
When all the youth finally made it to the suite we stood for the playing of the National Anthem, and we all watched half an inning together before it was really on! The Delegates separated into different sections of the suite focused on food, conversation and TikTok videos — yes, even I joined in on the TikTok fun. The best part about it, the Delegates have been keeping in contact with each other since ANYTOWN. They maintained and, in most cases, strengthened these friendships since they left camp, and that is a beautiful thing.
The Rays may’ve lost in a close game – yet for our future Advocacy Academy – ME PERSONALLY, I still left Tropicana Field feeling like a winner.