Compiled by Michelle Colesanti,

Hillsborough County Extension Offering Free Tax Preparation Help

Hillsborough County Extension is now scheduling appointments for residents who need expert help in preparing their federal income tax returns.

The free service is available to individuals and families whose Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is no more than $64,000. AGI does not include money contributed to tax deductible retirement plans, or certain other adjustments.

IRS-certified volunteers can provide access to a self-guided tax preparation program, as well as one-on-one assistance.

Appointments are required, and are available Tuesdays and Thursdays from February 7 through April 11, between 2-7 p.m.
On the following Saturdays: February 11, 18, March 4 & 18, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.  

To schedule an appointment, contact Denise Kantak at 744-5519 ext. 54141 or 
Hillsborough County Extension is located at 5339 CR 579 in Seffner.

Celebrating everyBODY: A Walk For Eating Disorders Awareness

The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness (The Alliance) will hold its first community awareness walk in Tampa on Sunday, March 5.
Held at the Raymond James Stadium, registration for “celebrating everyBODY” will begin at 9 a.m. Guest speaker, McCall Dempsey, will share her story of hope and healing from a 15-year battle with an eating disorder.  The Alliance is expecting more than 300 walkers and community resource exhibitors to be participating. In addition there will be live music, free snacks/drinks, and an arts & crafts area. The Alliance is proud to partner with the Tampa Bay chapter of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals to help spread the word about this important cause and make this walk a huge success.

The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing programs and activities aimed at outreach, education, political advocacy, and early intervention for all eating disorders. Since its establishment in 2000, the Alliance has offered presentations on eating disorders, positive body image, and self esteem to more than 250,000 individuals throughout Florida & nationwide.

One of the most important missions of The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness is connecting those seeking help with resources and information to assist them in their recovery.  Each year this organization publishes a comprehensive referral guide of U.S. treatment programs and regional eating disorders specialists.

This invaluable resource will be distributed to Tampa-area middle & high schools, colleges, social service agencies, doctors offices, and made available online. Monies generated through this event will also be used to establish a free support group in Tampa for those who struggle with this deadly disorder.

Visit for more information or to register online.

Hillsborough County Helps Students Achieve Higher Education Goals Through Scholarships

Achieving a higher education is an important life goal for young people and their families. Hillsborough County Social Services has partnered with the Community Action Board to offer scholarships for up to $5,000 to eligible students wishing to continue their education by attending an institution of higher learning.

Scholarship applications for the 2017-2018 school year will be accepted through Friday, March 31. Recipients will be notified in writing prior to the start of the fall semester. Applicants who meet the following eligibility requirements may be awarded a scholarship:

Applicants must be between the ages of 17 and 22, and have a high school diploma or GED equivalent (16-year-olds may apply if they are graduating seniors). Applicants must reside in Hillsborough County. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.0. The applicant’s household income must fall within 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG).

The following criteria will also be used to evaluate applicants: Community service and school involvement, application and letters of recommendation, academic record (transcript), essay response, and panel interview participation.

Application materials can be downloaded at

Detailed instructions on how to apply can also be found on the page. Students may submit completed applications online, via mail, or hand deliver applications in person to any County Community Resource Center. Mailed applications can be sent to P.O. Box 1110, Department of Social Services 24th Floor, Attention Sylvia Wint, Tampa, FL 33601.

In 2016, 52 scholarships totaling $260,000 were awarded to Hillsborough County students through Hillsborough County Social Services.

A Simpler Place Farm & Market Offers Valentine’s Day Brunch, Tasting And Garden Tour

On Sunday, February 12 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., A Simpler Place Farm & Market will hold a Valentine’s Day Brunch. Under a canopy of old oak trees on this rustic suburban farmette, enjoy a buffet style brunch tasting. The menu is seasonally inspired by Chef Nicolas Gomez and will feature a signature dish sourced from its garden. Brunch will be followed with a tour of the market garden.

A Simpler Place Farm & Market is located at 9902 Carr Rd. in Riverview. The cost is $40 per person or $60 per couple. There is also a $10 suggested bar donation. To reserve your spot, visit and click on Events.

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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.