Writing sampler

A small sampling of Jim’s work in recent years reveals an eye for color and detail, an ability to get to the heart of a story and put it together with grace.

From the Bradenton Herald, July 13, 2013

Special needs kids, families have an oasis in East Manatee

EAST MANATEE — For a child with special needs, a place to go where they can just be an ordinary kid can be a life-changing experience.

For their parents, a week of respite can be a godsend. Read more…

From the Bradenton Herald, May 16, 2013

Bradenton nursing home fined for mishandling resident’s death

BRADENTON — A Bradenton extended care facility has been fined after a state agency found its staff committed a series of errors involving the death of a resident in December.

From the Bradenton Herald, April 28, 2012

United Methodists gather for quadrennial conference in Tampa

By JIM DE LA — jdela@bradenton.com

TAMPA — Parishioners and clergy from Methodist churches in Manatee County are getting a rare chance to see first-hand how their church really works.

Members of the United Methodist Church, including clergy, bishops and laypeople from around the world, are in Tampa for the denomination’s 2012 General Conference.

The two-week conference, held every four years, gathers nearly 1,000 delegates who will decide policy and the direction for the church, and debate other matters. The Rev. Catherine Fluck Price, co-pastor at Harvest United Methodist Church in Lakewood Ranch, is one of 11 delegates and two alternates representing Florida. Read more …

From Episcopal News Service, March 15, 2005:

Churches still in the thick of hurricane relief

Six months after four major hurricanes ripped through the state, churches and relief agencies in Southwest Florida continue to provide aid to thousands of people in need. But instead of bottles of water and bags of clothing, the most sought-after commodity these days is a permanent place to live.

The sheer number of damaged and destroyed buildings in the hardest-hit areas has slowed the construction, permitting and inspection process to a crawl. In rural DeSoto County, an estimated 85 percent of homes were damaged by Hurricane Charley. And with less than three months to go before the official start of the 2005 hurricane season, pressure is mounting.

“It’s not panic time yet, but people are feeling the urgency of knowing that June 1 is hurricane season again and that their roof isn’t repaired yet,” said Donna Veatch, a Methodist relief worker in Arcadia, the county seat. “And what are they going to do when the rains come?” Read more…

From The Southern Cross magazine, Nov./Dec. 2007:

A Labor of Love: Quilts bringing comfort to many in hospitals, hospice care

Nearly every Thursday morning, a group of women gathers at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Palmetto, quietly turning castaway scraps of material into a gesture of kindness for the sick and needy.

Since the summer, the group has turned out more than 30 quilts and given them to struggling newborns, children undergoing cancer treatment and patients in hospice care. Read more…

From The Southern Cross magazine, May/June 2010:

Love fits in a pencil box

ErasersTAMPA — A table in the back of Susan Eaton’s pre-kindergarten class was loaded with things most 4-5-year-olds find irresistible: note pads, glue sticks, crayons, pencils, pens and erasers.

Students eagerly lined up to fill brightly colored pencil boxes with the supplies. They each added a handdrawn note of love and support before closing the boxes and packing them up in cartons bound for Haiti.

It was all part of a service day March 12 at St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School in Tampa, where students did their part to help the youngest victims of the January earthquake.

With the help of the school’s newly formed Dad’s Club, children put together supplies for the half-million children in and around Port-au-Prince whose schools were destroyed.

Ralph Latortue, the Haitian consul general based in Miami, was a special guest at St. John’s to receive the gifts on behalf of his country. He was invited by Ian Sweeney, consul general for the Consulate General of Antigua and Barbuda, whose daughter attends St. John’s School.

“Each one of you can be proud of yourselves,” Latortue told the students. “Not only you, but your dads and your moms. Each one of these donations will help one child to be able to go to school. There are so many of them that are in need of just a pencil and a piece of paper.”

The school supplies are an important gift to the Haitian students, he said. Latortue estimated that 500 schools had been destroyed in the capital. He said St. John’s was setting “an example for all the children across the world.”

All 220 students at St. John’s several campuses were involved in service activities, from local clean-up projects, to collecting supplies for U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan.

“Projects like these have great ripple effects,” said Bishop Dabney Smith, who was on hand for the event. “in order to encourage your children to be a help to people in need.”

While in Tampa, Latortue also visited the warehouse for the Hillsborough Education Foundation’s Teaching Tools program, which had eight pallets of school supplies to donate for Haiti.

—Jim DeLa

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