Our next Chamber Travel Opportunity -


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CANYON COUNTRY featuring Arizona & Utah

May 15-23, 2017

BOOK NOW AND SAVE $120 per person

For bookings made after Nov. 15, 2016, call for rates: Ruthelise Anderson, Cruise Planners, (863) 644-1014.







      “The number of homeless children and youth in the Polk County School System is growing year after year,” said Dee Dee Wright, Polk County School Board Project Hearth Specialist. “Last year we identified more than 2800 homeless people throughout Polk County,” she said. Homeless children and youth are students who lack a fixed regular and adequate nighttime residence. Families are considered homeless who have “doubled up” at a residence, or are living in substandard housing or hotels. Women with children living in a charity home are also considered homeless by Project Hearth - the Polk County School Board’s services department for homeless students. The average age of a school-aged homeless person is nine years old. It has been estimated that at any given time, there are more than 350 school aged, enrolled homeless children in Polk County.
Ms. Wright’s office works to address the needs of Polk’s homeless students year round.
Anyone may donate to the drive by bringing donations to the Bartow Chamber of Commerce in July or August.  
     “It’s heartbreaking,” said Kathryn Bevilacqua-Ely, ENGAGE Chairwoman. “When we found out how many kids in Polk were homeless, we couldn’t believe it. Many of our members have school-aged children themselves, and it's shocking to realize that there are so many children in our area without a stable place to live,” she added. “The Bartow community is so supportive, last year they generously brought in school supplies for these children.  This year we are hoping for another great turnout, every little bit helps."
Anyone wishing to make a monetary donation to homeless school-aged children in Polk County may do so by writing a check to the Polk County Education Foundation and writing “Hearth” in the memo line of the check. Checks may be dropped off at the Bartow Chamber, anytime. Donations will be used to purchase caps and gowns for seniors, pay for school physicals and pay for needed birth certificates.

       According to Wright, the items most needed this time of year are school supplies including backpacks, zip binders (Trapper Keepers), paper, 3-prong folders, spiral notebooks and calculators (scientific and graphing). In addition, school uniforms, gift cards for food, medical and dental services are much needed. Although hygiene items such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, deodorant, hair brushes and feminine products are always appreciated, the most dire need at this time are the school supplies.

      ENGAGE is a program designed to offer social networking, professional development and volunteer opportunities to ambitious young professionals, ages 21 to 42. Membership in the group is free to Chamber members, and $50 a year for non-members, and is geared toward improving career opportunities, developing leadership abilities, building personal networks and giving back to the greater Bartow community. Members make valuable connections with peers from various industries and have access to prominent and influential leaders.
      For more information on ENGAGE, or the Stuff the Bus campaign, call the Chamber at (863) 533-7125, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.






FREE EVENT, not just for ENGAGE members: Engage/Bartow Chamber Young Professionals presents an up-close and personal chat with one of the area’s most accomplished community leaders. These sessions will give participants a chance to reflect on new and creative ways to achieve professional leadership goals based on the best practices from the area’s most respected business professionals. After a short presentation, participants will have the opportunity to ask questions in a round-table format. Don’t miss this great opportunity for professional growth.

     Long-time lobbyist and former legislative aid David Shepp was legislative assistant to then-state Rep. Adam Putnam, 1996-2000 and managed his successful campaign for Congress in 2000. In 2001, he co-founded Florida Strategic Group (FSG), with Sam Killebrew, providing lobbying and consulting services to municipalities, locally-owned businesses, statewide trade associations, and national corporations and provided campaign consulting.

     Killebrew retired  in 2013 and Shepp bought his share of the firm. Shepp later joined Southern Strategy Group. Former State Rep. Seth McKeel joined Southern Strategy after leaving the Florida House in 2014.

Location: Florida Industrial & Phosphate Research Institute, 1855 W. Main Street, Bartow, FL 33830


Follow these links for more information:

Main Street Bartow, Inc.

City of Bartow Parks and Recreation Dept.

Polk County History Center

Lots to do on Bartow’s Main Street every month

Movies on the Lawn
Come watch a free movie on the lawn on the last Friday of every month. The movie begins shortly after dark on the corner of Main and Wilson at the grassy lot. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, and bug spray and enjoy a popular movie outdoors with the family – there’s nothing like it! Usually one of the service clubs will have snacks available for purchase, or bring your own. See you at dark-thirty!

Farmer’s Market
Each Wednesday, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., come to Fort Blount Park and find fresh vegetables plus other great item at the Main Street Farmer’s Market.

Friday, Friday, Friday
Friday Fest Street Party fun continues on July 15th with a beach theme! Deejay entertainment is featured.

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday
Every second Saturday, find collectibles and treasures at the Downtown Antique Fair on East Main Street from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Main Street Bartow’s Uptown Community Yard Sale is on the third Saturday of each month on the corner of Wilson and Main. Look for bargains or sell your treasures from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

For more information on any Main Street Bartow events, call the office at (863) 519-0508. If you know someone who would like to receive the newsletter call or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Main Street Bartow is located at 180 South Central Ave.