• Mar 31, 2023

Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero - Barbara Rhode

MediaThe Red Tent Women's Initiative's founder, Barbara Rhode, was honored as a 2023 Community Hero by the Tampa Bay Lightning! It is wonderful recognition for Barbara, AND it also means additional resources for the women Red Tent serves.

The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Barbara Rhode as the Lightning Community Hero during the recent game against the Washington Capitals. Barbara was awarded $50,000 to be donated to the charity of her choosing by the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program (presented by Jabil). Barbara chose Red Tent Women's Initiative as the recipient of this transformational gift!

Red Tent Women's Initiative was founded in 2012 and provides women who are incarcerated and those who are at-risk of being incarcerated with the skills to heal and improve their lives through trauma informed programs.

Barbara's passion for supporting incarcerated women began while volunteering in a maximum-security prison while in college. She started to understand how women's experiences both in and out of prison shaped the rest of their lives, and their families' lives.

A number of years later, after volunteering at Pinellas County Jail, within six months she had created a program for women inmates focused on trauma resolution and empowerment. Her work has transformed countless lives and given many inmates hope for the future.

The Community Hero's grant funds will be used to expand Red Tent Women's Initiative's programs to Hillsborough County. Specifically, the funds will be used to enhance the Project Redirect program, which provides healing and trauma informed services to those currently serving time for non-violent crimes. The funds will assist 90 women in a 12-month period, providing them with tools and life skills that will last a lifetime.

Barbara became the 541st Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. The Lightning Foundation has granted $29.42 million to more than 700 unique nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2021, the Viniks announced that the community hero program will give away another $10 million over the next five seasons.