TAMPA, Fla. - After an East Tampa pharmacy was burglarized and vandalized during protests this week, the owner is doubling down on her efforts to empower and uplift the community around her business.
In the middle of an underserved neighborhood, instead of just doling out medication, Health Matters Pharmacy has become a lifeline.
“We’re the only pharmacy here for four miles,” said Pharmacist, Dr. Vondalyn Wright.
Wright chose this location on North 50th Street with a purpose and, for the last 2.5 years, has worked hard to empower and uplift folks who live nearby.
“I grew up in the inner city and I wanted to be able to give back to my community,” Wright said.
It’s something on which Wright prides herself but Sunday night, looters smashed her front door and burglarized the pharmacy.
“They stole medication, they destroyed my computers,” she explained. “They took my cash registers and it was pretty devastating.”
Wright believes in order to keep moving forward, it is vital for everyone to come together, adding that criminal activity takes away from the heart of the movement.
“Right now we’re at a turning point for all of us, and we as black business owners and as professionals are trying to make a statement,” said Wright.
So she’s focusing now, more than ever, on building up her community.
Health Matters Pharmacy delivers medications for free, has an in-house insurance agency to help seniors navigate healthcare, and hosts monthly health-focused events spearheaded by rotating pharmacy interns.
“The goal of this is pretty much to bring awareness to everyone about their health and how they can better themselves,” said Florida A&M University Pharmacy student, Trevor Volkes.
For three hours next Saturday, the parking lot at 1702 N 50th Street will be transformed into a mini health fair.
“We’re gonna have free food, games, we're gonna have fun promotional prizes,” said Dontia Orey, Florida A&M University Pharmacy student.
“This is 100% for the community, we have collaborated with various healthcare professionals to come out council patients, and we have health screenings,” Florida A&M University Pharmacy student, Bernice Ford said.
For information about how to help be a part of the change, Wright recommends supporting black-owned businesses in your community.