Church of Scientology Hosts Annual “Harlem Nights” Fundraiser—Brings New Life to MLK Community Center

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The Church of Scientology hosted an event for the Clearwater Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Coalition at the historical Fort Harrison.

Mr. Wade Clark (in hat), President of the Clearwater MLK Neighborhood Coalition, presenting Rev. Dr. Leroy Howard, pastor of the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church in North Greenwood with the Gideon A

On Saturday, February 2, 2013, the Martin Luther King Jr. Neighborhood Coalition held its second annual fundraiser, hosted by the Church of Scientology at the historic Fort Harrison in downtown Clearwater. The fundraiser was held in support of the rescue of the North Greenwood Martin Luther King (MLK) Community Center, which was in danger of being demolished. Over $15,000 was raised between last year’s fundraiser (also hosted by the Church of Scientology) and this year’s fueling the drive to secure the lease for the MLK Center and reopen it to the community. The Neighborhood Coalition, which includes members of the NAACP Clearwater, Springtime Club, Greenwood Elks Lodge, North Greenwood Association, parishioners of the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Scientologists and concerned residents of Greenwood, advocate the revitalization of the historical North Greenwood neighborhood.

Due to the economic downturn, the MLK Community Center was closed by the City of Clearwater. Recognizing the benefits of a civic center that offers services for everyone from the youth to the elderly, members of the coalition are taking collective action to reopen the center and run valuable services for its residents. The theme of last Saturday’s event was “Harlem Nights,” and over 200 people attended, including Tarpon Springs Mayor, David Archie, and the head of the Pinellas County Democratic Party, Mark Hanisee.

Harlem Nights is one of many charity events sponsored by the Church. Taking advantage of its growing corps of volunteers, The Church of Scientology is focusing on the improvement of local neighborhoods and the community of Tampa Bay. This includes sponsoring and supporting programs to help disadvantaged children, prevent drug abuse, improve literacy, and advocating human rights.

The Greenwood community has been experiencing a renaissance in recent years, with its own recreation and aquatic center, a renovated library and a football field for the Greenwood Panthers which was donated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bucs rookie, Leonard Johnson, is a Greenwood native who was featured in a video produced by members of the Church of Scientology to record the history of the MLK Community Center and which made its debut at last year’s fundraiser. At that time, Johnson was still aspiring to the NFL. In his interview, Johnson spoke of his use of the MLK Center and its importance to the youth of North Greenwood.

Over the past year, the Church of Scientology helped to raise over $30,000 for Greenwood organizations, and plans to surpass that number in 2013.

“The Church of Scientology considers it an honor to be part of this event and to do our part in helping to preserve an important part of the history of our neighbors,” said Pat Harney, Public Affairs Director for the Church of Scientology.

About the Church of Scientology:
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 10,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 184 countries. Scientologists are optimistic about life and believe there is hope for a saner world and better civilization, and actively do all they can to help achieve this. The Church of Scientology regularly engages in many humanitarian programs, such as anti-drug campaigns, human rights campaigns and global education programs. It is a maxim of Scientology that a being is as valuable as one is able to help others. Scientology-sponsored charity programs often encourage those receiving the charity to make their own contribution in exchange, by personally helping others who are in need. Additionally, the Church was among the original supporters of the Freedom of Information Act and supports the protection of public interest laws. To learn more, visit

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Karla Jo Helms
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