The PAR Blog has Moved!

laptop hands2The PAR blog was recently updated, and we’ve moved to a new URL address. Be sure to go to the new site (http://blog.parinc.com) and update your bookmark so that you can see our fresh, new look and access all of our new features.

See you there!

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PAR Receives United Way’s “Spirit of Tampa Bay” Award

This month, PAR was honored to be named as a recipient of the “Spirit of Tampa Bay” award from United Way’s Suncoast Chapter. United Way explains that the award is their way of recognizing companies that go “above and beyond” in organizing and energizing fundraising, volunteerism, and community engagement at their workplaces.

Cathy Smith, PAR’s Vice President of Community Relations, was thrilled to accept the award at a special half-time ceremony during a recent Tampa Bay Lightning game. For this honor, however, she credits PAR employees for their commitment and enthusiasm for helping others.

“From our beginning more than 35 years ago, PAR’s mission has included giving back to the community,” Cathy explains. Helping children and families in Tampa Bay is a special priority, and PAR employees have participated in a wide range of United Way Suncoast programs that support literacy, mental health, nutrition, and much more. “Staff participation was always strong,” says Cathy, “but about 15 years ago, we reached the milestone of 100% employee participation—and we’ve maintained that every year since.”

Each year, a large contingent from PAR participates in United Way’s annual Day of Caring, which brings together volunteer teams to tackle various projects that most agencies could never undertake on their own. Last fall, PAR staff helped organize supplies and donations at the Family Resource Center, a wonderful organization that helped more than 11,000 low-income and at-risk families in Hillsborough County last year.

United Way Pledge Week is one of the most fun weeks of the year at PAR. The week includes a series of games (with treats and prizes), from the hotly contested annual Scrabble competition to a ride-like-there’s-no-tomorrow tricycle race through our Distribution Center! The culmination of the week is a luncheon featuring speakers from local organizations who have benefited from PAR’s support through United Way—a wonderful way to end pledge week on a high note.

To learn more about PAR’s ongoing commitment to United Way and to other community service projects, visit our Community PARtners Web page.

Happy Holidays from PAR!

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Last week, PAR staff delivered gifts to a deserving local veteran’s family.

All of us here at PAR want to send you our warmest wishes for a very happy holiday season. We look forward to helping you and those you serve in 2014. May your New Year be filled with peace, love, and joy!

This year, PAR staff worked with two organizations to spread holiday joy to those in need, by fulfilling the wishes from an Angel Tree for the children and teens served by the Joshua House and by adopting a veteran’s family through Service Source, part of Abilities Foundation. Click on the attached links to learn more about these incredible organizations and learn how you can get involved.

Happy Thanksgiving from PAR

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The staff at PAR wishes you and your family an enjoyable, relaxing, and warm Thanksgiving holiday. We feel fortunate for you, our Customers, and are thankful that we can help with the important work you do all year long.

Community PARtners: Creating Connections and Changing Lives

2013 has been a very busy year so far for PAR’s volunteer team!cp_02

PAR staff members and their families kicked off a chilly January with a children’s clothing drive for the Redland’s Christian Migrant Association, a group that serves migrant farm workers and their families here in Florida.

In February, PAR staff members helped organize the annual “Stars and Pars” golf tournament and auction to benefit The Children’s Home in Tampa. The Children’s Home provides a spectrum of social services for families in crisis including foster care, adoption, emergency shelters, child abuse prevention, and more.

What’s a corn-hole toss? Here at PAR, it’s an excuse to come together, test our pitching arms, laugh a lot—and raise funds to support Suncoast Hospice. A not-for-profit organization that serves local families, Suncoast Hospice helps those living with chronic and terminal illnesses, nearing the end of life, or experiencing grief. This year’s “toss,” held in February, helped raise funds—and awareness—for this vital community resource.

In March, several members of the PAR team gathered for a special breakfast in support of the PACE Center for at-risk girls. At the breakfast, recent PACE graduates described how their lives have been truly turned around by the caring, supportive environment at PACE. PAR is delighted to support this wonderful organization.

And let it be known throughout the kingdom (the animal kingdom, that is!) that the Tampa Bay Humane Society “Bark in the Park” trophy has been returned to its rightful place, here in the lobby at PAR! Once again this year, PAR claimed the title of top fundraising team at this annual Humane Society event.

Every April, a team from PAR dedicates one Saturday to Paint Your Heart Out, an organization that helps our elderly neighbors to maintain their homes with a fresh coat of paint. The PAR team takes things a step further, planting shrubs and doing some light landscaping chores to help spruce up the homes even more.

And while one part of the PAR team was painting houses…another team was heading out for the annual Walk for Autism Speaks! This year’s event was a huge success, raising thousands of dollars for autism research.

If you happened to drive past PAR headquarters in April, you would have been greeted by a gorgeous blue “pinwheel garden.” Each pinwheel in the garden represented a person who provided a voice and advocated for children who have been abused or neglected. PAR was proud to be a 2013 Hillsborough County Partner in Prevention during Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Several staff members also volunteered this spring at the Dress for Success (DFS) annual sale. Dress for Success helps women who are re-entering the workforce by providing appropriate professional clothing. Later this summer, the PAR team will be heading up a clothing drive for DFS.

In May, PAR recognized Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day by co-sponsoring the “Breakfast of Champions” for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, a leading advocate for children and families in the Tampa area. On the national level, PAR partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on a virtual event for children’s mental health awareness; this year, the event focused on resiliency and social connectedness as important factors in children’s mental health.

Several members of the PAR team also attended and supported the Hillsborough Family Justice Center fundraising luncheon. The Family Justice Center provides hope and support to victims of domestic violence.

Throughout the year, a growing team of volunteers from PAR deliver Meals on Wheels (MOW) to some of our elderly, house-bound neighbors. For many MOW recipients, the smiling faces that accompany their lunch may be the only visitors they receive during the day, so we all try to spend a few minutes checking in with each our MOW friends.

Florida Blood Services continues to send the Bloodmobile to the PAR headquarters parking lot every eight weeks because they know that the PAR team is a regular source of “the good stuff” that saves lives every day. We are particularly proud of several staff members who were first-time donors in 2013!

These are just a few of the many Community Service projects that PAR is honored to support. For more information, photos, and a list of organizations and activities that PAR supports throughout the year, visit the Community PARtners page on the PAR Web site.

PAR is proud to announce our 2012 “Capture the Connection” photography contest winners

PAR’s Customers clearly understand what “Creating Connections and Changing Lives” means—our 2012 “Capture the Connection” photography contest solicited 178 entries! Narrowing our choices to just three was a difficult task conducted by two professional photographers and our in-house marketing team.

The efforts and talent of all those who entered are greatly appreciated. The full gallery is available at http://www4.parinc.com/capture/Gallery.aspx.

And now, on to our winners!

1st_place

First Place
Aloha C. Romay, MS
Clinical Psychology
Paducah, KY

1st_place_photogWhen I think of the word “Connection,” I think of Family. Everything that we are and we will be begins at home. This photo to me describes how, even before we are born, we create a bond with those around us, those who love us unconditionally. A life that is about to begin has already changed the lives of those who have already started one.

Thank you PAR, Inc. for not only providing us therapists with the tools and resources we need to do our jobs more efficiently, but also for the amazing opportunity to be a part of this contest. For the latter one, I feel very grateful.

2nd_place

Second Place
Bonnie Voegeli, PsyD
School Psychologist
Brookfield, CT

2nd_place_photogMy sons had spent an afternoon last summer playing in the sprinkler and on their swing set. In an effort to get all three kids into one picture, I spontaneously hung my youngest from the chains and had each brother grab him around the waist. They were so surprised and they stayed this way just long enough for me to capture this shot.

As I considered the theme of “Creating Connections, Changing Lives” this photo instantly came to mind, for the obvious reason of my youngest connecting to his two older brothers. Beyond that, however, is the life-changing connection that occurs from growing up with siblings. The bonds that are formed from simple joys such as a sprinkler, a swing set, and a warm summer day are as life-changing as you can get!

When PAR called to tell me that my photo had won second place, it was three days after my hometown of Newtown, CT had been devastated by the horrific school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Needless to say, our community is heartbroken over the loss of our town’s babies, teachers, administrator, and a fellow school psychologist. The news from PAR was such a welcomed surprise, and I told PAR that it was the first time I had smiled in three days. Thank you, PAR!

3rd_place

Third Place
Terri Sisson
School Psychologist
Madison County, VA

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My name is Terri Sisson and I’m the one-and-only school psychologist in my small hometown, Madison County, Virginia. I love taking photos… and the photo session in Virginia Beach was no exception! This picture is one of my favorites because it is truly about “creating connections, changing lives.” Every year, my family goes camping in Virginia Beach with several families from our community. We spend lots of time at the beach, riding bikes, and bonding around the campfire. We are truly making connections and creating memories that I hope our children will cherish for a lifetime. I cannot express my excitement over the fact that my photo won the third-place prize. I am so happy that the judges saw the potential in a photo that is so near and dear to my heart. Thank you to PAR for this opportunity… What a wonderful Christmas present!

PAR Employees Support United Way

PAR is proud to support United Way! Last week, PAR employees took part in our annual fundraising campaign. For the 19th consecutive year, 100% of PAR staff participated in our annual United Way drive. We exceeded our fundraising goal, resulting in $105,993 being donated to help United Way continue its mission of helping others in our community.

For more information on how you can help United Way in your community, visit http://www.liveunited.org.