Speeches and Floor Statements

Gwen Reese

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Washington, February 9, 2015 | comments
Mr. Speaker, each year I am honored to recognize the outstanding and invaluable contributions of the African American community that have built this great Nation. The enduring impact and lasting legacy of countless African Americans must always be appreciated. Every year I pay tribute to African American men and women who exemplify this spirit of selfless and patriotic service.
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Mr. Speaker, each year I am honored to recognize the outstanding and invaluable contributions of the African American community that have built this great Nation. The enduring impact and lasting legacy of countless African Americans must always be appreciated. Every year I pay tribute to African American men and women who exemplify this spirit of selfless and patriotic service.

I rise today to honor a dedicated community leader and equality activist, Gwen Reese of St. Petersburg, Florida. Ms. Reese was born in St. Petersburg and is a proud graduate of Gibbs High School as well as St. Petersburg Junior College in 1968. Ms. Reese has dedicated her career to supporting initiatives that improve families and create a high quality of life for Floridians. She began as a counselor for Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting Services for the YWCA of Tampa Bay. Thanks to her passion and diligent work, she was consistently promoted rising to become the Director of Administrative services of the YWCA of Tampa from 1994-1999.  Ms. Reese continued to be a voice for Florida families by serving as a Coordinator for both Healthy Start of Pinellas and the Midtown Health Council. In both capacities she focused on reducing infant mortality as well as other initiatives designed to improve the effectiveness of health care delivery and outcomes. 

Ms. Reese’s unrelenting service has led her to play an important role in numerous service organizations and projects in Tampa Bay. Currently, she serves as the District Manager of Professional Opportunities Program for Students (POPS) Inc. which provides career seminars, college tours, internships, and community service projects to assist area high school students in exploring and experiencing different career goals. Furthermore, Ms. Reese organizes the annual Stand Against Racism event and the Week Without Violence activities. These events bring attention to significant issues facing our community.   

Ms. Reese has been an ardent advocate for preserving the history that African Americans have made to the St. Petersburg community. This passion led to her selection as the President of the African American Heritage Association. Under her leadership, the African American Heritage Association focused on developing a walking trail through historic neighborhoods in St. Petersburg. It captured the oral histories of the great people like those who built tracks for the Orange Belt Railway, laid Augusta blocks in the Historic Old Northeast, and made the prized hex blocks seen on some city sidewalks.

Ms. Reese strived to use this project to bring the St. Petersburg community together. She has witnessed great moments in the community created by the project. Her favorite instance was when 25 high school students from Gibbs High School, Pinellas County’s first public high school for black students, interviewed those residents who had witnessed immense changes in the community. Adding to the symbolism, these interviews were held on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

We truly appreciate the outstanding work that Ms. Reese has done to preserve and venerate the outstanding history and immeasurable contributions of African Americans. Mr. Speaker please join me in commending Ms. Reese for her wonderful service to Pinellas County and to the State of Florida.

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