By Matt Wiley
Through selflessness and volunteerism, one person does have the ability to have an effect on and, in some cases, even change the lives of others. For his countless hours of time and service, New Tampa resident Allen Guy has been recognized as a Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero.
During an April 2 Lightning home game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in downtown Tampa, Guy, 50, a Hunter’s Green resident, was recognized during the first period as a Lightning Community Hero, following a more-than-two-minute video showcasing his selfless service to the New Tampa community.
Afterward, Guy was presented with a $50,000 grant from the Lightning, which he says will be distributed among the non-profit organizations to which he volunteers his time. Among them are Young Life New Tampa (a non-denominational, faith-based youth social program); Young Life Capernaum (a once-a-month special needs youth group); the O.A.S.I.S. (Outreach Assisting Students In Schools) Network, a program that provides gently-used clothes and hygiene products for less fortunate students in Hillsborough County schools; Special Connections (a special needs ministry for all ages at St. James United Methodist Church in Tampa Palms); and Voices for Children Guardian ad Litem, a program that appoints volunteers to look after foster children and make sure that their needs are being met in their different living situations.
“I just try to make a difference out there with the different groups I volunteer for,” Guy says. “These programs are the ones that I chose to split the Lightning money among. I am so honored to have received (the money). I usually like to fly under the radar.”
Guy was nominated to be a Lightning Community Hero by Young Life New Tampa director Alissa Holcomb.
“Allen was perfect for the award,” Holcomb explains. “He’s a full-time stay-at-home dad, but also is a full-time volunteer. Allen gives up his time so willingly and so joyfully. He definitely is a hero in my eyes and in our ministry.”
Another individual must nominate Lightning Community Heroes; they cannot nominate themselves. The Lightning organization determines eligibility for the award based on several criteria, including the degree to which the person has been a catalyst for a cause that meets basic human needs or enriches the lives of others; the degree to which the person has exhibited dedication and selflessness; the degree to which that person has made a special and significant impact on individuals, families or the community at large; the degree to which the person has gone “above and beyond” to serve and inspire others and the degree to which the nominator is able to convey the overall significance and impact of the person’s work.
Guy says that although receiving the award was overwhelming, letting his organizations know about the money that they would be receiving has been much more rewarding.
“The organizations were so appreciative,” he says. “It felt really good to me to be able to say, ‘Hey, you guys are doing great things out there. Here’s some money to enhance what you’re doing.’ Times are tough. People can only donate so much.” Representatives from each of his organizations were able to attend the game and receive their checks from Guy.
The Community Hero program began during the 2011-12 NHL season. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and his wife Penny set aside $10 million to donate among “deserving, grass roots community heroes” throughout the Tampa Bay community over the next five years. At every regular season home game, the Lightning Foundation gives a $50,000 check to a Hero to distribute to charities that the hero sees fit. During the 2011-12 season, $2,050,000 was distributed to community causes. Guy was the 34th Community Hero this season.
Guy, his wife, Kimberly, and their two kids moved to New Tampa eight years ago from Cary, NC, where he worked full time in the state’s mental health department. After moving to Tampa, due to the demanding nature of his wife’s job with St. Joseph’s Hospital, Guy decided that he would be the go-to person for his kids, who were then entering the third and sixth grades, respectively.
“It wasn’t in my plans not to work,” he explains. “It just kind of worked out that way. I love my free time, but I wasn’t just going to lounge by the pool or play golf. I decided that I would be become a volunteer. I slowly got involved and now I’m pretty maxed out.”
For more information about Tampa Bay Lightning Community Heroes, please visit Lightning.NHL.com and click on the “Community” tab.