A brand-new day for the University Area CDC’s Harvest Hope Park

Ease on down these seven acres.

Kenny Leon, Tony Award winner and director of The Wiz. - Jessica Watzman
Jessica Watzman
Kenny Leon, Tony Award winner and director of The Wiz.

Generous donations from local individuals and businesses left something for everyone at the silent auction, which included artwork created by Prodigy students.

Powerhouse Shalyah Fearing singing “Home” from The Wiz. - Jessica Watzman
Jessica Watzman
Powerhouse Shalyah Fearing singing “Home” from The Wiz.

The University Area CDC offers Prodigy, a visual and performing arts program, to help at-risk youth make positive choices. It has over 3,000 participants every year, including Prodigy success story Shalyah Fearing, who competed as a finalist on The Voice. Fearing dazzled the crowd at the gala with “Home” from The Wiz.

Other music students performed, and fashion students strutted with upcycled fashion themed around The Wiz. Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon, director of The Wiz Live and Hairspray Live, made a surprise appearance, inspiring the room with a message about community support.

The money raised at this event will go towards construction of the Harvest Hope Park, a seven-acre community hub where residents can learn to cook, fish in the tilapia pond, exercise on the fitness trail or playground and grow fresh produce in the already established Harvest Hope Community Garden.

“We are so grateful to our supporters who have brought us much closer to our goal of providing a beautiful and practical park for this community, which we know will be an important improvement toward the health and well-being of those who live here,” said Sarah Combs, University Area CDC CEO.

click to enlarge The Harvest Hope Park model was unveiled at the gala. Is that tilapia pond swimmer friendly? - Jessica Watzman
Jessica Watzman
The Harvest Hope Park model was unveiled at the gala. Is that tilapia pond swimmer friendly?

The University Area CDC also recently received a $423,000 grant from Hillsborough County to aid in construction. Groundbreaking is in November, with completion expected in 2018.

“The Harvest Hope Park will allow families to enjoy the outdoors without leaving their community,” Combs said. “We are growing fresh produce and we will offer free cooking lessons. Eventually, we will have a safe playground and hiking trails where residents can exercise and have fun.”

Ease on down to uacdc.org for more information about their programs and ways to support the community.

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