By Michael Smith
When Teresa Manganello founded Tampa Bay HEAT seven years ago, she never imagined the homeschool support group would become what it is today.
Manganello decided to form HEAT in May 2010 after discovering that homeschoolers were unable to compete in the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) once they reached high school.
Now HEAT is one of only four homeschooling groups competing in the FHSAA. Its girls volleyball team has advanced to the State Final Four during the past three seasons.
HEAT’s membership grew to 500 families in 2016, and in addition to athletics the nonprofit group also offers activities for preschool through high school, including the arts, academics, clubs, field trips and special events.
“I never thought when I did this it was going to be a full-time ministry; that’s what it turned into,” Manganello said. “I think we’ve been so incredibly blessed. God has His hand on this organization, and I do it because I love people and want to glorify God.”
HEAT, which stands for Home Education Activities Teams, operates the Homeschool Resource Center at 307 S. Parsons Ave. in Brandon, where it provides classes, clubs and support to the community.
Manganello said her organization’s greatest challenge is a lack of facility and parking space at the Homeschool Resource Center. She also said it’s very costly to rent facilities for the many events that HEAT holds off-site. Her dream is to have a larger facility with a gym.
She is thankful for the parents who support the ministry by volunteering, whether it’s by planning a field trip or helping out at the Homeschool Resource Center.
Manganello said the group is open to all families in the area and registration is open throughout the year. “We are a Christian organization, but we welcome everybody,” she said.
For more information about Tampa Bay HEAT, visit its Website at tampabayheat.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.