Category Archives: ARTICLES: Some published, others…

Write At Five–On Air

Write At Five–first broadcast!.

via Write At Five–first broadcast!.

On The Radio! Yes, that’s right. I’m on the radio, the co-host of a new internet radio talk show all about writing called “Write At Five” with host R. MonaLeza Bethke. It airs live on each Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. EST. What do we talk about? Well, writing of course! Everything about the power of the “pen” to tell stories, motivate, enlighten, disturb and entertain. Yes, the craft, the subject matter and the business.

What’s this all about? Each week we feature a guest writer for an hour to talk “writing” with us. Would you like to know about up-and coming local writers, poets, publishers and their works? What about award-winning journalists, respected leaders and those who make a living by writing words? How about the business of writing: self-publishing, promotions, ebooks, internet marketing and public speaking/reading venues, even about getting an agent and publisher? Yes? Then come and follow along with us!

Where can you find us? You can like us on Facebook and be certain to join us on Rhino On Air internet radio each Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. EST. Here’s a link to our very first show of “Write At Five” with guest Tony Michaelides.

Want to advertise on the show, please contact me: Daphne Taylor Street at Want to be booked on the show? If you’re a local writer or poet or published author or journalist, please feel free to email me at the same address.

Write more stuff!

Write At Five, Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m. EST


Why look for a job? Create one.

Why look for a job? Create one..


The Cardboard Stories: community theatre brings messages of hard truths about homelessness with inspiration and hope

The Cardboard Stories: community theatre brings messages of hard truths about homelessness with inspiration and hope.


The Black Swan a film by Darren Aronofsky (spoiler alert)

The Black Swan a film by Darren Aronofsky (spoiler alert).


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ARTICLE: Philanthropy Rocks!

This is a tale of caregivers, philanthropy, stewardship and rock ‘n’ roll.

Patrick, Paul and Mark Wilson

On Oct. 15, Van Wilson, a local band made up of three brothers and some others, rocked the stage at St. Petersburg’s The Local 662 to a sold-out crowd.  What matters here is not the rock show, which really did rock, but who these brothers are and what their rock concert did.

The brothers three happen to be Emmy and Tony Award nominated Patrick Wilson, Fox 13 news anchor Mark Wilson and advertising mogul Paul Wilson. What the concert did was raise about $4,000 of unrestricted funds for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The Brown Forman Corporation donated spirits to the event to be enjoyed by the patrons and to help raise money.

Rocking Out for a Cause

The concert opened with the John Kelly Band, warming up the crowd with original tunes that seemed familiar, though I’ve never heard them before. The venue began filling up with an enthusiastic crowd that soon swelled to a tame mob — a packed house made up of community members, friends and family of the Wilson brothers and, perhaps most significantly, Patrick Wilson’s graduating class of 1991 from Shorecrest Prep.

Let the show begin! Enter Paul Wilson from behind the crowd, looking like the smooth devil he is, covering the Rolling Stones classic “Sympathy for the Devil.” The music was a walk down amnesia lane for many of us who grew up listening to Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and even a touch of Jimmy Buffett.

Mark Wilson captivated the crowd with his masterful guitar riffs. Patrick Wilson never missed a beat, playing drums while his brother Paul Wilson played front man with larger-than-life incarnations of classic rock stars such as Mick Jagger and David Lee Roth. Yet, the majority of the songs were crooned by the Broadway veteran Patrick, never disappointing his adoring fans.

Philanthropy Is in the Blood

I’ve known the Wilson brothers since I was about 10 years old, growing up with them in the church where their mother, Mary K. Wilson, was the choir director of four choirs at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, and their dad, John Wilson, news anchor at Fox 13, was often nearby lending a hand with nearly anything for anyone.

Beyond John and Mary K. being extraordinarily talented professionals, their overarching shared attribute is that they both have hearts the size of planets. It would be alien to their nature to not give of themselves in large and small ways to their community and to people in need. They are far from pushovers, but they have a level of integrity that flows beyond honesty and manifests in stewardship and philanthropy.

Certainly this sense of stewardship and philanthropy influenced Patrick, Mark and Paul, but I believe it goes beyond that — it’s in their DNA. Paul Wilson said, “At a nascent age, my parents instilled in us a sense of giving. My mother wrote checks to the power company to pay for others — paying someone else’s power bill, someone who couldn’t afford it. My mother is altruism personified. To us, helping others was always part of our family values. My dad seldom ignored the chance to give someone a ride when their car broke down. So we get it from both sets of genes.”

The brothers have been raising money for charitable organizations through their “family reunion” concerts for a couple of years now. Mark Wilson explained that this is an opportunity for the family to get together, have fun and give back to the community.

Patrick Wilson said in a recent interview with CBS, “if you can get the common person that may just want to come out and have a good time and hear some music and give to charity — especially a very noble one like the free clinic — then we’re in good shape.”

I asked Paul why giving back is so important to him and why it is so meaningful to his family. “In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget how easy it can be to help others, how valuable it can be for the spirit, yours and those in need. But it is the giving that nurtures the soul and replenishes it,” he said.

How to Give Back in Your Community

Each week I write a simple column, raising awareness and celebrating the great works caregivers do in your community. This article is a call to action.

This story is all about the power of a little generosity and a lot of commitment to making communities and lives a little better and a little stronger through raising awareness and funds. Right now, our economy is putting a strain on most families and unemployment is plaguing more and more of our neighbors, making large-scale philanthropy and fundraising increasingly scarce. Yet, if we all joined together and dedicated just a few hours of our time, talent and resources, it would make a world of difference to those most in need right in your own neighborhood.

Just think of a nonprofit or a cause that means something to you, and then think of a way that you can donate talents, skills, time, resources or even money to help support that cause. If we all work together to make the change we want to see in our community, imagine what great things we could do.

For a listing of charitable organizations in your community, call 211 or visit



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ARTICLE: Caregivers Tackle Bullying in Schools, Community

Parents, educators and students all play a role in keeping our schools safe.

Bullying has grabbed national attention recently, especially in light of several recent suicides of youths and young adults that are being attributed to bullying. CNN aired a special series on bullying last week.

Many adults have a hard time wrapping their heads around the enormity of the problem. I recall some teasing and a few kids who were briefly targeted by bullies when I was growing up, but these incidents didn’t seem to escalate to the level of terrorizing and physical humiliation that is often described today. That’s not to say that the same level of torment didn’t exist when I was in school, but when it did take place, the instances were isolated and usually dealt with directly through school officials, parents or even peers.

Today, however, bullying has taken a new form. This is particularly true as cyberbullying has crept beyond the boundaries of the classroom and invaded the sanctuary of the home through social networks, email and cellphones. Victims of bullying can’t get a break from the taunting, and too often parents and other adults fail to recognize the severity of the issue before it is too late.

Bullying can take many forms:

  • Physical: hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting or any other form of physical attack, or damage or theft of someone else’s belongings
  • Verbal: name calling, insulting, making racist, sexist or homophobic jokes, remarks or teasing, using sexually suggestive or abusive language, offensive remarks
  • Indirect: spreading nasty stories about someone, exclusion from social groups, being made the subject of malicious rumours, sending abusive mail, and email and text messages (cyberbullying)
  • Cyberbullying: Bullying through text message, picture/video clip, phone call bullying, email, chat room, instant messaging or websites/social networking (e.g. MySpace, YouTube and Facebook)

Bullying’s Negative Consequences

Bullying can lead to a number of problems for youth and can even lead to death through suicide and homicide. Specifically, bullying is attributed to a significant amount of absenteeism from school, increased dropout rates, mental health and substance abuse issues, youth suicide and even school shootings.

Suicide remains among the leading causes of death of children younger than 14, and in most cases, the young people die from hanging, according to the American Association of Suicidology. Suicide rates among children ages 10 to 14 are low but are “creeping up,” says Ann Haas, director of the Suicide Prevention Project at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A new review of studies, conducted by the Yale School of Medicine, from 13 countries found signs of an apparent connection between bullying, being bullied and suicide.

How Big Is the Problem?

According to studies from 2010:

  • It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students, according to the National Education Association.
  • American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims, says Dan Olweus of the National School Safety Center.
  • 1 in 7 students in grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.
  • 56 percent of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
  • 71 percent of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
  • 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.
  • 90 percent of fourth through eighth graders report being victims of bullying.
  • According to bullying statistics, 1 out of every 10 students who drops out of school does so because of repeated bullying.
  • Among students, homicide perpetrators were more than twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullied by peers.
  • Bullying statistics say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings.
  • 87 percent of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to get back at those who have hurt them.
  • 54 percent of students said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school.
  • Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75 percent of school-shooting incidents.

Local Schools Are Taking Action

Pinellas County Schools has a web page dedicated to bullying, and it recently held a bullying prevention conference to raise awareness of bullying and to provide resources to parents, students and the community. Additionally, the school has developed an online form that a parent or youth can complete to report bullying at school.

Hillsborough County Public Schools offers a similar web page dedicated to informing the community on its policy regarding bullying and offers an online form to report bullying at school.

Sarasota County Schools offers a website dedicated to pupil support services, and at the top it provides resources for violence prevention and highlights cyberbullying issues. Its website provides direct contact information including email addresses of school personnel who can assist with bullying issues and reporting.

The Manatee County Safe Schools program has online resources for dealing with bullying in schools, including a form to report bullying. It also offers tips for parents and signs that your child might be getting bullied.

Pasco County Schools offers a brochure on bullying that includes resources for youth and families to utilize, aiding in bullying prevention.

National resources for youths and parents:

If you are a youth who is experiencing bullying or have witnessed bullying, or if you are a parent or concerned adult who knows of a bullying problem, please take action. Most bullying takes place in schools, and schools need to know about it and must address it. If at first you are not heard or appropriate action isn’t taken after you report the issue, please report it again. Report it to the county level if local schools aren’t responding with enough urgency. Ignoring the problem hardly ever helps it get better and most often, it gets worse.

Youths deserve to live and learn in safety. Together, we can all be caregivers and help make sure that happens.



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ARTICLE: Local Caregivers Empower Teens To Stay Safe

The Spring of Tampa Bay has partnered with Ad2 Tampa Bay to develop a statewide social marketing campaign, “i own me,” empowering youths to set boundaries and prevent violence.

The greatest gift we can give our youths is a simple message: You are the master of yourself — who you are and who you become — and you teach people how to treat you. Spread the word to youths: “i own me.”

The “I own me” effort is a social marketing campaign created by the emerging advertising professionals of Ad2 Tampa Bay, who remember what it was like to be a teen in this social-media-driven age. The Spring of Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County’s only certified domestic violence prevention and emergency shelter agency, was Ad2 Tampa Bay’s client for this project.

Each year, Ad2 Tampa Bay prepares a free public service campaign for a community nonprofit to give back to the community, and this year the company chose teen dating violence as its project, with The Spring of Tampa Bay and six local domestic violence shelters as collaborators. The hope is that the campaign will be embraced throughout the state, promoted by all 42 domestic violence shelters.

The other collaborative partners for “i own me” include:

You may contact any of the organizations listed above for information or to get help. Also, each of these organizations is always in need of donations and fundraising. Please visit their websites for contact information.

Abuse Can Seem Subtle but Lead to Danger

I recently interviewed Brenda Rouse, director of communications of The Spring of Tampa Bay, who described how abuse begins in a relationship. According to Rouse, abuse begins as a situation in which one person in a relationship does not honor and respect the personal boundaries of the other person. Boundaries are critical; these are the rules a person establishes for him or herself and how he or she wants and expects to be treated.

Rouse gives an example: “If I were a teenage girl, my boundaries could include how late at night you can call me on the phone, the words I allow you to use when you speak to me, the pet names you give me, and even whether or not you display affection to me in the halls at school. Violate these boundaries, and it’s abusive. These personal boundaries are often violated before physical violence and sexual abuse begins.”

Rouse explains that teaching young women how to recognize, establish and enforce their personal boundaries is becoming much more difficult in this age of cellphones, Skype and Facebook and Internet communications. Rouse said that many girls who have been abused will tell you that the problem often begins when young men expect girls to answer calls and respond to text messages on a 24-hour cycle. There is no allowable downtime for communication.

“There was a time when we helped girls establish these boundaries much more effectively,” Rouse said. “Of course, we remember rules and curfews and date night protocols, but we used to be much more involved in helping girls around the area of communication. For example, there was a time when a house had one phone. It was in the kitchen and fastened to the wall. It may have had a long cord, but that cord didn’t extend very far out of the range of family members. A girl arguing with her boyfriend would have family aware of a problem. If a young man called after 11 p.m., Dad often answered the phone and advised that the time was improper and to not do it again — or else!”

Today, with access to cellphones, girls get calls all night long and are expected to be available to take calls or texts whenever the ringtone sounds. Her family may not know she is up all night responding to calls or if she is arguing with friends or boyfriends over things she doesn’t want to do.

Rouse said, “It is easier for kids today to plan ‘skip days’ by texting meeting places to embark on a rendezvous. My daughter could be planning or arguing with her boyfriend as she sits in the front seat of my car as I drive her to school. All I hear is the clicking of her keyboard. No facial cues, no vocal intonations, no indicators at all for me to figure out something is not quite right.”

How to Help Youths Develop Safe Boundaries

The most important thing adults can do is to teach youths the importance of boundaries. Let them know it is acceptable to say no if they are asked to do something they do not want to do. It is OK to not answer the phone if they are occupied with something else or if they just do not want to answer it. It is important for youths to inform people in their lives that they will not be treated a certain way or called certain names.

“One way we can reinforce this is of course to model this behavior and not take calls from clients or co-workers during dinner and practice healthy boundaries ourselves,” Rouse said. “For middle schoolers and younger teens, I strongly encourage turning in all cellphones during homework time and at an established bedtime hour to get them accustomed to being offline for short periods. All phones go in a basket and are returned in the morning. Laptops and computers that allow Skype and even email should also be turned in or the router disconnected to disallow access to the Internet. This sounds harsh, but it’s today’s version of a dad picking up the phone and bellowing, ‘Who is this? Do you know what time it is?’ ”

Get Teens Involved

Teens can take the pledge “to demand respect from my boyfriend or girlfriend. I expect to be treated properly by establishing personal boundaries and to be honored in my decisions concerning privacy, sex, and affection. I will not tolerate being physically, verbally, or emotionally hurt” by visiting They also can like the “i own me” Facebook page and follow “i own me” on Twitter.

Why Preventing Teen Violence Is Important

According to studies published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Journal of Adolescent Health, Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, Journal of the American Medical Association and by other researchers:

  • About 1 in 4 teens report verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse each year.
  • About 1 in 11 teens report being a victim of physical dating abuse each year.
  • About 1 in 5 teens report being a victim of emotional abuse.
  • About 1 in 5 high school girls have been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • 80 percent of teens regard verbal abuse as a serious issue for their age group.
  • 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or otherwise physically hurt by his or her partner.
  • About 72 percent of students in 8th and 9th grade report “dating.”
  • By the time they are in high school, 54 percent of students report dating violence among their peers.
  • Nearly 80 percent of girls who have been physically abused in their dating relationships continue to date their abuser.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  • Almost 70 percent of young women who have been raped knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend or casual acquaintance.
  • Teen dating abuse most often takes place in the home of one of the partners.
  • The overall occurrence of dating violence is higher among black students (13.9 percent) than Hispanic students (9.3 percent) or white students (7.0 percent), according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Need Help with Domestic Violence?

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you need help planning an escape from an abusive relationship, call The Spring’s 24-hour crisis hotline: 813-247-SAFE (7233). You may also call 211 or search to contact a local domestic violence provider near you.



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