NORTH TAMPA – In Francis Joseph’s opinion, everyone in the Tampa Bay area seems to delight in the uniqueness of the Caribbean Islands culture, especially its captivating music and mouth-watering cuisine.
It is for that reason Joseph, the president Caribbean American National Development Organization (CANDO), is extending an invitation to everyone in the greater Tampa community to A Splash of the Caribbean dinner-dance from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday at the University Area Community Center, 14013 N. 22nd St.
Together with being treated to a buffet featuring an array of the islands’ most flavorful foods, guests will be encouraged to kick off their shoes and head to the dance floor for dancing that will include such Caribbean favorites as reggae, soca, zonk and salsa.
Joseph stresses that while the party is meant to invoke fun and frivolity, it has an even more important purpose.
It will help fund programs and initiatives for the new Community Associations Development Institute at Mort Park Recreation Center at 1815 E. 148th Ave. in Lutz. Its soft opening on Nov. 1 will be followed by a grand opening in January.
The CADI Center, as it is more commonly called, will soon be the site of a children’s afterschool program. It will also offer youngsters tutoring in math and reading and adult programs related to literacy, computer education, job training and money management.
Activities for seniors, sports programs for kids and workshops dealing with immigration, citizenship and home ownership are also in the works.
“The analogy here is just like playing on a golf course where a caddy provides assistance and guidance to the golfer, the CADI Center will provide aid and support to the community it serves,” said Joseph, a native of Trinidad.
Founded in 2009, CANDO – a nonprofit entity made up of a board of directors and a team of volunteers – has established alliances with other organizations in the area, including the University Area Community Development Corporation and various Caribbean civic groups.
UACDC board chairman Gene Marshall said his organization is pleased to partner with CANDO and its CADI Center initiative.
“The center is going to give Caribbean folks a place where they can connect,” said Marshall, whose birthplace was Jamaica.
Brian McEachron, president of the Caribbean Community Association, said he also strongly believes in CANDO’s mission.
“It reflects our own mission of ‘building coalition and promoting culture,’” McEachron said. “I ask our members to participate in making this CANDO event a huge success.”
Tickets for the dinner-dance are $25 per person if purchased in advance by logging on to www.wicando.org. If purchased at the door, the cost is $30.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]