Local Teenager is a Hometown Hero

IMG_3654   SPRINGHILL, FL.- (July 2019) Meet Alyssa Skye Barocas, 14 years old.  Alyssa is one of our hometown heroes and we think you’re going to be just as impressed by her as we are.  She didn’t do ONE heroic thing.  She’s BECOME a hero and she’s planning to stay that way.  Her story begins last year, as an eighth grader at Gulf Coast Academy with an assignment originating from her Social Studies course at the very beginning of the school year; students were assigned a service learning project which would count for almost a third of their grade and would encompass almost half of the school year.  This project stemmed from a program called Pay It Forward.

Students were tasked with selecting a local charitable organization and organizing a fundraiser on their behalf.  This wasn’t a group project.  Each student had to work hard on their own with a goal of raising a minimum of $100.  There were limitations as to what they could do to raise the funds; no raffles or auctions.  The development and delivery of the project was integrated into other classes as well.  The write up of the project was part of their Language Arts class.  The typing of spreadsheets and creation of powerpoint presentations was part of their computer class.  Students began to bake cookies and hold car washes.  But not Alyssa.  She had bigger plans.


Alyssa selected the Dawn Center.  She had listened as each organization was given the opportunity to tell their story to the students.  The Dawn Center mission wasn’t something she was familiar with.  She hadn’t experienced or known anyone who personally had suffered domestic or sexual violence.  But she understood that this agency REALLY helped people.  And Alyssa wanted to DO something.  She wanted to bring the COMMUNITY together.   So she did.



Alyssa’s dad Stephen is a motorcycle enthusiast.  They live with Sue Krenitsky, who also rides.  Together they decided that the riding community was a likely source of help.  Thus, A Ride For The Dawn was born.  Alyssa started talking.  She started emailing.  She went to local businesses and to neighbors and she told them that she was trying to raise funds.  She also told them that she was creating an EVENT. Something to SHARE with the community and bring people TOGETHER.  She gained the support of a good establishment on Hernando Beach known as the Drunken Mullet who agreed to host the event and provide food and beverages in a good setting.  A DESTINATION for people to ride TO.  She was given permission to place collection jars at the Aqua Lounge and the Horse & Crown.  She asked people to come to the event with items that could help women and children get back on their feet.  She accepted donations from generous small business owners who used creative mechanisms for generating hundreds of dollars.  Aripeka-based artist Leslie Newman donated a painting for a future fundraiser at the Dawn Center.   Alyssa and her best friend Paige personally served sandwiches on a hot day and oversaw the collection of donated items.

The event and all of the pre-event fundraising activities were SO successful that Alyssa did what no one in the history of the Pay It Forward program had ever done.  IMG_7940

She raised nearly $10,000.

Yep.  That’s right.  NOT $100.


All of this WITHOUT the help of the Dawn Center’s outreach coordinator.  The Pay It Forward program prohibited students from working WITH the organization.  They had to SERVE the charity of choice completely on their own.  And man, oh man, did she ever.

But, the story doesn’t end there.  Alyssa, our Hero, has decided to keep going.  She’s making this an annual event.  And now, she isn’t inhibited by any rules so she’s working alongside of the Dawn Center to create something bigger in the hopes of bringing in MORE donations.  Together, her and the Dawn Center’s Community Engagement Coordinator April Johnson will be organizing a new kind of event.  Planning for this year’s event has already kicked off and it is shaping up to be a great day.  Initial plans are for participants on motorcycles or in cars to meet up at the Horse & Crown on US 19 at 9-10am. There, they will be given a survivor’s story card to read.  But this card will only tell part of the story.  At the end of the card, participants will chose to continue the story by selecting the next chapter; A or B.  Based on their selection, they will be directed to travel to another local destination to pick up the next part of the story. Organizers plan for there to be 4-5 stops, each one building on the storyline.  The day will culminate with all riders and drivers arriving at the Sparacia Witherell Family Winery & Vineyards in a beautiful area of Brooksville around 2pm.  There, participants will celebrate the day with beverages, food, and music.  Donated items will be gathered at all locations and cash donations will be welcome beginning as early as NOW!

Mark your calendar’s for September 28, 2019 and join our Hometown Hero Alyssa Skye Barocas in support of the Dawn Center and the women and children they serve.

CONTACT giving@dawncenter.org or call Stephen Barocas at 352-419-3867

Tell them Alyssa sent you.

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