• Aug 31 2015

    Triad Employees volunteer at Joshua House

    by Bridget Roberston

    A group of Triad team members from the St. Petersburg headquarters used their company-sponsored volunteer day to help spruce up a few buildings at Joshua House.

    Watch their video here.
  • Jan 28 2015

    Ardent Joshua House kids' supporter to host open house


    TEMPLE TERRACE — Jan Sutton has never been one who seeks attention.

    But she has no qualms in telling people about her passion for collecting teddy bears and Beanie Babies — and selling them to benefit a group of children she believes deserve special consideration all their own.

    “It’s not about me,” she said. “It’s about the kids.”

    Toward that end Sutton is planning to host an open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 31 in her home at 6814 Monet Circle in Temple Terrace. It’s where she houses the countless donations she’s garnered in recent months in anticipation of the upcoming event.

    The public is invited to stop in, browse and buy whatever cuddly creatures catch their fancy.

    Sutton has raised more than $25,000 over the past six years, which in turn she’s donated to Joshua House, a residential group care program in Lutz for children 6 to 17 who’ve been abused, neglected and abandoned.

    She specifically stipulates that the money be spent on activities for the kids, such as pizza parties, movies and trips to area attractions.

    Sutton — who when she invites guests to her home for special occasions requests they bring teddy bears or Beanie Babies in lieu of wine as tokens of their appreciation — also raises money for children’s holiday parties at Joshua House as well as raises funds for the boys and girls softball uniforms.

    To supplement the sales of the donated items she assembles and mans a large booth — of course with an array of teddy bears and Beanie Babies for sale — near Dillard’s at the Shops at Wiregrass from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the first Saturday of every month.

    “I just can’t imagine what it’s like for her to set up the tables and all the bears,” said DeDe Grundel, executive director of the Friends of Joshua House Foundation. “She is a wonderful lady who just wants to help those kids.”

    In recognition of Sutton’s generous contributions for the children at the Joshua House, the foundation awarded her the 2013 Olin Mott Golden Heart Award, named after one of its founders.

    Terry Perkins is the fire chief of the Medulla Volunteer Fire Department in Lakeland and an employee of the company Sutton’s husband founded, which is now run by their son. Perkins said that during the Christmas holidays his crew raised enough money to purchase more than 150 new teddy bears — bears they donated to her cause.

    “We were happy to do it because Jan is so supportive of Joshua House and those kids,” he said.

    Donations, however, need not be new because Sutton also is in the doll repair business and is happy to mend a “broken” arm or most any other “boo-boo” an item may have.

    For more information or to donate items, call (813) 980-2507.

    Joyce McKenzie can be reached at

  • Jan 13 2015

    DCF Recognizes Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Says Increase in Calls Reporting Human Trafficking Points Way to Success

    by Florida Department of Children and Families

    For Immediate Release: January 13, 2015

    TALLAHASSEE, FL – Calls reporting suspected human trafficking in Florida have doubled since 2010, a reflection of successful awareness and education efforts that are being recognized and applauded during Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

    “While the horror of human trafficking is unspeakable, talking about it is our only hope for eradicating it,” said Mike Carroll, Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), which houses the Florida Abuse Hotline and Florida’s Human Trafficking Coordinator. “Very few people are unaware of what human trafficking is, which was not true four years ago, and that is a sure sign of the effectiveness of our partnerships.”

    In fiscal year 2011, the Florida Abuse Hotline received 480 calls regarding human trafficking. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, the Hotline received 978 calls. More than half of the calls came from central and southeast Florida.

    Multiple local, statewide and national partnerships, including state agencies, Community-Based Care lead agencies, service providers, law enforcement, prosecutors, the judiciary and concerned citizens, are driving the fight against human trafficking in Florida.

    DCF also works closely with its Community-Based Care partners and now more than 250 case managers and child protective investigators have special certification in human trafficking. In addition, a Department of Children and Families and Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Statewide Tools workgroup has developed a Human Trafficking Screening Instrument that will help child welfare professionals and DJJ staff identify victims of human trafficking so appropriate services can be provided. Training on the new tool is under way.

    DCF tracks human trafficking by three primary categories: sexual exploitation by a non-caregiver, such as an adult entertainment club or escort service; sexual exploitation by a parent, guardian or caregiver; and labor trafficking, also referred to as slavery or servitude.

     Heart-wrenching examples of how children are used in sex trafficking include:

    • A minor trading a sex act with an adult in exchange for a place to sleep.
    • A pimp prostituting out an adolescent.
    • A father trading his underage daughter for crack.
    • A mother allowing her landlord to have sex with her child as rent payment.
    • A fifteen year old trading a sex act with an adult for money
    • A nightclub owner providing shelter and food for minors in exchange for exotic dancing.

    The Florida Legislature last year provided resources to enhance screening and assessment of safe houses and therapeutic foster homes and created the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking, on which Secretary Carroll serves as vice chairman.

    Human Trafficking Awareness Month is recognized every January.

    Media Contact: Michelle Glady, DCF Press Secretary, 850-717-4450

  • Jan 12 2015

    The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce introduces Hannah's Shoebox as a member of the 2015 Start Up Scholars program

    by Bridget Roberston

    Congratulations to Friends of Joshua House Board member R. Colette Glover-Hannah! 

    The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce introduced her company, Hannah's Shoebox- age appropriate tween shoes in women sizes as a member of the 2015 Start Up Scholars program. The Program is an initiative which aims to encourage innovation as a part of our community culture and increase instances of entrepreneurial success. Hannah’s Shoebox is an online retailer that exclusively provides fashion footwear to tween/preteen girls who wear women sizes 5-13. The online store offers a variety of styles including
    boots, flats, dressy/casual sandals and those hard to find special occasion shoes.

    Check out Hannah's Shoebox. They have already graciously provided shoes for our girls several times this year and the selection is wonderful.
  • Nov 26 2014

    There is always a reason for giving thanks

    by Joe Henderson

    Celebrating a national day of thanks, as the nation will do Thursday, might seem a little weird right now.

    The news is dominated by riots, looting and fires after the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. The weather is lousy in much of the nation and getting worse. Our national political leaders apparently believe in governing by polarization.

    And according to the latest report in, 17.6 million households in the United States were “food insecure.” I’m not sure who came up with that term, but I think the translation means a lot of people aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from.

    So why celebrate?

    Because we are still basically a nation of good people, and that’s reason enough.

    My friend Margie Fox, of Temple Terrace, was so excited the other day. She and two of her sisters began raising money in June to buy a wheelchair van for their other sister, Mary, who has lived with cerebral palsy for her 63 years and is a quadriplegic.

    She is also more than a little amazing. Among many other things, Mary earned a degree in social work from the University of South Florida.

    Her old van, with 157,000 miles on it, was her lifeline to doctor appointments and other necessities, and it was falling apart. That’s when her sisters went to work.

    Margie said she knew some of the people who donated money so the van could be replaced. Others, as she noted, are “new acquaintances.”

    They all have a common thread of basic compassion.

    You know people like that. Give thanks that you do.

    Goodness really is all around. Sometimes you just have to look.

    Need doesn’t take a holiday, so Metropolitan Ministries will still be feeding and supporting people in Tampa and Pasco County, just like always.

    The vital work of caring for neglected and abandoned children goes on at Tampa’s Joshua House, and always with memories of two others for whom our community should perpetually give thanks — Olin Mott and Dottie Berger MacKinnon, both of whom died in 2013.

    They were fierce advocates for society’s most vulnerable citizens. Could anyone’s legacy be better?

    Today in Sarasota, police will deliver a van filled with shoes, blankets, jackets and other necessities to a homeless shelter called the Resurrection House. Those won’t be the only acts of kindness from one human to another, far from it.

    And for all the talk about retail workers forced to work on Thanksgiving at the expense of family time, it’s no holiday for law enforcement and other first responders either.

    Emergency rooms will still be staffed.

    Nurses will work their hospital shifts to care for the sick.

    Doctors will be on call.

    And, of course, soldiers will still be stationed abroad and apart from their families. MacDill Air Force Base won’t be closed for the holiday. All of those people give their time to cover our back.

    Give thanks for that.

    Goodness enriches us every day, although sometimes we forget.

    We can and will disagree on how best to deal with issues that affect us all, but that doesn’t mean we have to assume the worst about each other.

    If you think about it for a minute, everyone basically wants the same things — health, happiness and hope. Sometimes it just takes a day like Thanksgiving to remind us of that.

    No matter what the news of the day may be, we have more in common than we realize. We’re all in this together, folks. Give thanks for that, too.

  • Nov 25 2014

    FOJH Executive Director DeDe Grundel honored at Breakfast of Champions

    by Bridget Roberston

    Our Executive Director, DeDe Grundel, was honored, on Friday, November 21st, at the Breakfast of Champions by the Centre Club’s Executive Women’s Council. Breakfast of Champions honors local residents who are seen as a “Children’s Champion” through their work with children who need assistance to survive and succeed.
  • Nov 20 2014

    Help give foster kids back their dignity with the suitcases you no longer need

    by Sarina Fazan

    Patty Wyman, the owner of Day Spa 580 in Dunedin, was on her Facebook page when she came saw a plea for suitcases posted by friend Tammy Levent, CEO of Elite Travel.
    “Our nothing could be a child’s everything,” Wyman said.
    Wyman sprang to action.
    "I just started asking, ‘Do you have bags or luggage you are not using anymore?’ and they just started dropping them off by the day spa," Wyman said.
    Levent wanted to get luggage for foster kids who typically arrive at homes like Friends of Joshua House, a home for abused, abandoned and neglected children, with all their belongings in a garbage bag.
    Levent, a longtime supporter of the home, asked its executive director, DeDe Grundel, if the children could help name the charity.
    They came up with “It's My Bag.”
    Talking about the effort moved Levent to tears so much so it was hard for her to speak about her mission.
    "We have so much. It's time to share. It's time to give," Levent said.
    She started using her contacts through her own agency and soon people from as far as Australia wanted to help.
    She's already collected dozens of suitcases. Business owners like Wyman are taking it one step further, sponsoring the program and then personally delivering the suitcases and filling them with everything from socks to blankets.
    Grundel said it's changing kids’ lives.
    "It's the point you carry yourself with dignity, and that someone thought of you as a human being, that they did not think your stuff is garbage," Grundel said. "Tammy Levent hit this on the nose. It's what these kids need.
    Grundel  hopes Tammy's idea will spread  and all foster children no matter where they go, either this facility or another, will get back a piece of pride.
    The residents of Friends of Joshua House are provided luggage, but so many come in at the last minute, like at so many other foster care facilities, with their belongings in garbage bags.
    Levent also said if you drop off a bag, there's an added incentive: Each drop off location will give you a reward, such as a gift certificate.
    To find out more information you can  just head to .
  • Oct 24 2014

    Friends of Joshua House Foundation, Inc Has Reached the GuideStar Exchange Gold Participation Level as a Demonstration of Its Commitment to Transparency

    by Bridget Roberston

    – Friends of Joshua House Foundation today received the GuideStar Exchange Gold participation level, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability provided by GuideStar USA, Inc., the premier source of nonprofit information. This level demonstrates Friends of Joshua House’s deep commitment to nonprofit transparency and accountability.

    "We have worked hard to showcase our progress toward our mission, and our long-held belief in being transparent about our work, to our constituents," said Executive Director, DeDe Grundel. "As a GuideStar Exchange participant, we use their platform to share a wealth of up-to-date information about our work to our supporters and GuideStar's immense online audience of nonprofits, grantmakers, individual donors, and the media."

    In order to be awarded the GuideStar Exchange logo, Friends of Joshua House had to fill out every required field of our nonprofit report page on for the Gold level of participation.

    "I encourage you to check out our profile on GuideStar to see what we're all about," added DeDe Grundel. "We are engaged in exciting initiatives, and we are thrilled to have another platform for communicating our advancement and progress."

    About the GuideStar Exchange

    The GuideStar Exchange is an initiative designed to connect nonprofits with current and potential supporters. With millions of people coming to GuideStar to learn more about nonprofit organizations, the GuideStar Exchange allows nonprofits to share a wealth of up-to-date information with GuideStar's many audiences. Becoming a GuideStar Exchange participant is free of charge. To join, organizations need to update their report pages, completing all required fields for participation. The GuideStar Exchange level logos, acknowledged as symbols of transparency in the nonprofit sector, are displayed on all Exchange participants' nonprofit reports.

  • Sep 22 2014

    2014 Joshua House Schools Supply Drive a Huge Success!

    by Bridget Roberston

    The school year has begun!  Papers are being written, science project topics are being chosen and “new” math homework is being solved.  The children of Joshua House have settled into their school schedules just like any other family – and that is because of you, our wonderful and caring donors. 

    New school clothes and backpacks filled with school supplies were generously donated by so many people and organizations.  We are, once again, humbled and grateful for such an amazing and giving community that keeps our children in your hearts.  There were 28 companies that held collections for School Supplies and/or Uniforms and hundreds of people donated to help our children start the school year with the tools that they need to be successful.  Some gave more than others, but every donation makes a difference! 

    With the help of our community, the children at Joshua House have what they need for school and we are also prepared for the children who will come to us throughout the school year.   Thank you so much for giving our children a brighter future.

  • Sep 18 2014

    Friends of Joshua House Foundation welcomes Scott Daigle, Senior Vice President, Senior Market Manager / Commercial Banking at Synovus Bank of Florida to the Board of Directors

    by Bridget Roberston

    Friends of Joshua House Foundation is pleased to announce the addition of  Scott Daigle, Senior Vice President, Senior Market Manager / Commercial Banking at Synovus Bank of Florida to the Board of Directors.

    Scott Daigle is a seasoned banker bringing more than 18 years of experience to his role at Synovus. His experience includes expertise in commercial banking, business development, business banking, commercial real estate lending and customer relationship management.

    As the commercial banking senior market manager for Hillsborough County, Mr. Daigle is responsible for developing and leading the Hillsborough team in generating new commercial banking business.  He and his team work with public and private companies with revenues between $10 million and $35 million to provide financing for working capital, expansion, mergers/acquisitions, real estate and equipment.

    Mr. Daigle earned a B.S. in economics from Radford University, Radford, Virginia.

    Mr. Daigle also serves as a Board Member of the University of Tampa Board of Fellows, a Board Member of Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County and is a graduate of the Mayor’s Neighborhood University.