What is essential for life is not what is seen, but what is felt. It’s the feeling of companionship, of community, and love. It’s the comfort that makes you feel at home, which in return, creates a passion that pushes your desire to be involved with your surroundings. You invest yourself into where you live because, when you love your home, a piece of you is sewn into the community. More and more people are discovering our hidden gem and falling in love. Can it be the preserved parks, up-and-coming downtown, or the beaches? It can’t be just that. There is something St. Petersburg is doing right, and it starts with the people.“I’m just the mom of one of your students. I’m so impressed with what you’ve done, and I just want to help.” Usually, when a mom calls a teacher, it’s not for a good reason. The child might be tucked away in the next room, attempting to overhear and predict the trouble they are about to get into. But this phone call was quite different. Kristin Brett made this phone call to her daughter’s professor after listening to an “Our Town” discussion about the Edible Peace Patch Project. Hearing about the project’s initiative sparked her interest and she had to be involved.
Kristin is no stranger to non-profit organizations. She is now actively working for three organizations in the area: The Great Explorations Children’s Museum; The Edible Peace Patch Project; and the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership (see sidebars). Kristin has worked previously with All Children’s Hospital and the Heart Gallery. Just like the Edible Peace Patch, Kristin found the idea of the Heart Gallery intriguing because of some pictures she came across. While flipping through the newspaper, Kristin’s eyes stopped on a section highlighting children needing adoption. The Heart Gallery is a traveling photographic and audio exhibit which was created to find forever families for children in foster care. It was a grassroots effort when Kristin joined the steering committee, working with the project for seven years. She said her most rewarding experience was when she was working with the Heart Gallery. “Children who age out of foster care have a much higher rate of becoming homeless, pregnant; they are more likely to become involved in criminal activity. So, for a child or a teen to become adopted, it is truly a life-changing process. To have an impact on that is truly rewarding.”
Always behind the scenes and rarely in the spotlight, Kristin has given the most incredible gift anyone can give. It is something that cannot be bought, and only comes from the heart… it is selfless love. A saying she lives by is, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Her desire to give back to those in need is a prime example of how people can shape a community.Recently, AARP and the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership put together an event called the St. Pete Rocks Symposium to discuss what makes St. Petersburg a great community. AARP state director, Jeff Johnson, was working on a statewide event when he noticed “that we have two guys who are national and international speakers on the power of community, and they both choose to live in St. Petersburg.” He found it to be unusual, but a good barometer that we must be doing something right.
Jeff had to approach the question. What are we doing right? The event made time for all to appreciate what the area has to offer. Jeff states that one of the points taken from the event is: “there are a lot of physical attributes that we can talk about, but at the end of the day, what makes a city or community one which you love and you want to stay in are the people.”
This dynamic duo is an undiscovered jewel of St. Petersburg who just happen to be brother and sister. They both gravitated here for different reasons, and now are proud to call St. Petersburg their home. Everywhere we look we can find a good story, but here, in the Old Northeast, the stories are quite unique. There is a comfort and unseen love inter twined with every resident. St. Petersburg is a good place that has good people and good things happening. It is the time of year to reflect on everything we are thankful for. Look around to see the beauty of the environment and the people in the community, for this is your story. Happy Holidays.
See below for non-profits wholeheartedly supported by Kristin (Edible Peace Patch, Great Explorations Children’s Museum, and the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership) and Jeff (Life Reimagined and St Pete Rocks). And find some gems to polish!