USF College of Nursing Celebrates Grand Reopening of R.I.C.H. House
The University of South Florida College of Nursing leaders joined the Tampa Police department on Aug. 29 to celebrate the grand reopening of the Sulphur Springs R.I.C.H. House.
City leaders unveiled the newly remodeled home, which has served as a safe haven for neighborhood children in the Resources in Community Hope (R.I.C.H.) program run by Tampa Police.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor thanked everybody who stepped up to help refurbish the home. The renovated house features new windows, cabinets, carpeting, air conditioning, and more.
A plaque hanging in the duplex recognizes the 21 community partners who contributed to the project. The College of Nursing helped furnish the house with tables, chairs, a projector and screen.
“This place has made such a difference in so many lives. I can’t tell you how many kids that have been touched by this particular home,” Castor said.
Mayor Castor said the house at 8218 Marks Street used to be a crack house in the 1980s. The city closed it down, took control of it, and reopened it as a R.I.C.H. House, a safe place for neighborhood kids to go to afterschool for homework and activities. The program has a second site in Robles Park and both houses serve about 20 families each.
About three years ago, the city began renovating the Sulphur Springs R.I.C.H. House after years of patchwork maintenance.
“We have so many kids in this neighborhood. They all have the capacity and the motivation to do well in life. They just need an opportunity, and that’s why we exist here – to provide that opportunity for the kids,” Castor said.
In June, the College of Nursing launched the Peds to Succeed program, a new initiative that pairs pediatric nursing students with children at the R.I.C.H. House.
During the remodeling project, the program operated out of the nearby George A. Bartholomew North Tampa Community Center. Over the summer, USF nursing students went to the community center to offer student-led wellness education programs to the campers.
R.I.C.H. House alum and USF student Shaheedah Salaam, who is studying to get her master’s in public health, said seeing the newly remodeled house was emotional, yet hopeful. She has been involved with the house for the past 14 years.
“It’s very sweet, seeing the next generation that will come here,” she said. “They’re going to get even more than what I’ve gotten to help them in their future endeavors.”
Salaam said she started going to the R.I.C.H. House as a sixth-grader. She lived with her grandmother, who didn’t always understand her homework, so coming to the house afterschool for homework help made all the difference. She said she continues to come back and volunteer when she can.
“I can honestly say, as a child of this community, I don’t know where I might have ended up without the R.I.C.H. House. I don’t know whether I would have gone to college. I don’t know where I would have been at this moment,” Salaam said.
Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing