As a young girl growing up in Riviera Beach, Tarra Pressey remembers well her mom’s enterprising ability to keep a home and provide for her needs.
Her mother, Lou Ella Jordan, owned and managed a variety of businesses: A grocery store, rental properties and even a small gift shop in the airport called JL Unlimited, Inc.
Pressey worked in every one of the businesses at one point or another.
“Growing up within a family business, working was something that you knew,’’ she said. “I learned a lot because I was involved in all aspects of the businesses, particularly when it came to finances, and it’s probably also what made me a good financial manager.’’
In 1998, she branched out from her mother’s company to begin her own. She called it Tarra Enterprises, Inc.
Today, this small start-up has grown from owning and managing 15 food and beverage concessions in the Palm Beach International Airport to jointly operating the retail concessions in Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood International Airport’s terminals 1 and 2.
Pressey now also manages various locations at Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey.
For her business ventures and work mentoring young girls in the community, Pressey is one of the honorees at the Orange Bowl Foundation’s 6th Annual “Field of Dreams’’ Scholarship Benefit, which takes place tonight, Friday, March 28.
The event will honor the philanthropic contributions of several South Florida personalities and institutions. Alonzo and Tracy Mourning will receive The Orange Bowl Keith Tribble Trailblazer Award. There will also be special recognition of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce and the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center.
Pressey, of Riviera Beach, is a founding member of a non-profit started in Pahokee, which now services young girls in Belle Glade and Riviera Beach. Girls II Women, serves to educate, motivate, and inspire middle and high school girls as well as provide assistance to them through college.
Pressey, who is in her early 30s, said she was inspired to help when she returned to the area after attending Tuskegee University. She believes that education and exposure are important to improving one’s overall quality of life.
Just as her mother prepared a way for Pressey, her experience at school inspired her to give back to the places that helped mold her.
“My family is from Belle Glade. I grew up a few streets down from John F. Kennedy middle school in Riviera Beach and went to Suncoast High School, so I see myself in those girls.
My mom was a single parent,” Pressey said.
Her mother was strict, but fair when Pressey was young, not allowing her to go out late at night like other kids in the neighborhood.
Instead, Pressey worked and set the stage for her own business career.
Pressey has been a recipient of a number of other awards, most recently by JM Family Enterprises as an African-American Achiever. She won that award last year for the positive difference she has made in the lives of teenage girls, according to Kim Bentley, a spokeswoman for JM Family Enterprises.
“Tarra Pressey remains an outstanding community role model,” Bentley said in an email to the South Florida Times. “Our company was pleased to honor her for generously using her business expertise to lead Girls II Women, Inc.”
From etiquette training for teenage girls to teaching them how to present themselves on trips to the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, Girls II
Women emphasizes showing the young ladies the possibilities through exposure to culture, various career options and the environment.
“A lot of these young girls may not consider college as an option, for them,” Pressey said. “I want them to have an open mind to navigate their way through life’s opportunities and options.”
She also introduces them to other local women who have succeeded.
The next stop for the non-profit is a $25,000 trip to Washington D.C., where the group will visit several colleges and the U.S. House of Representatives for a meet and greet with U.S. Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina.
Pressey said there are always challenges in trying to make it on your own, and it’s important now for young girls to realize their own potential.
“It’s phenomenal for me to be able to try and help them achieve this for themselves and see an entirely different world,” she said.
Photo: Tarra Pressey
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: The Orange Bowl Foundation’s 6th Annual “Field of Dreams” Scholarship Benefit, featuring a performance by R&B singer Eric Benet.
WHEN: Friday, March 28, 2008
Reception: 7:00 p.m.
Dinner: 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Fl. 33316
COST: Tickets start at $125 for individual seating, $1,000 for a corporate table and $1,500 for a premium corporate table (which includes preferred location seating, champagne and personal gift).
CONTACTS: LaToya Williams at (305) 341-4728 or firstname.lastname@example.org.