On Wednesday, January 8, the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County held a Board Room dedication Ceremony honoring Colleen Lunsford Bevis, a long time children’s advocate. Bevis Elementary School is named after her.
Bevis passed away on October 13, 2013. She spent six decades as a leading children’s advocate. She was instrumental in creating the Children’s Board, along with former Hillsborough County Commissioner, Jan Platt.
Bevis graduated from Brandon High School and earned a degree from the University of Tampa. She joined the local PTA in 1951. She eventually became local, county and then state PTA president. She also served on the national PTA. Bevis served on dozens of local boards and councils. Most dealt with children’s and mental health issues. Bevis persuaded the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners to study children’s issues in the late 1980’s. This lead to a referendum to create an agency with taxing authority to support children’s programs. In 1988 Hillsborough County voters agreed to tax themselves to support the Children’s Board and the programs it now runs.
Joanna Cheshire, Pubic Affairs Director for the Children’s Board said, “Colleen Bevis is a legend in the area of education, race relations and child advocacy. Her reach was far and wide. It was our hope that we could honor her contributions while she was with us. Her passing does not diminish what she left us, and we now honor her dedication to the children and families of Hillsborough County.”
Cheshire added, “I doubt there is one resident that has not been touched in some way by her legacy. The Board Room was used for 357 meetings with over 19,000 attendees last year. This year they will all know the contribution Bevis made to the well being of the residents of Hillsborough County.”
Just one example of what the Children’s Board funds is the six Children’s Board Family Resource Centers that offer free classes and programming such as Little Amigos, Story Time, Infant Massage, Car Seat Safety, Baby and Me and more.
The Children’s Board is located at 1002 E. Palm Ave. in Tampa. For more information, please visit www.childrensboard.org.