2014 WEDU Be More Involved Award Voting

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Mason Dixon Award for Volunteerism | One person can make an extraordinary difference. These award nominees are culled from an online poll driven by votes from the general public in the WEDU viewing area. Local radio personality and philanthropist, Mason Dixon, will ultimately choose and present the award to the most-deserving recipient from five nominees that receive the most online support during the voting period.
 

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Martha Angold, Circle of Friends Ministry

Martha Angold-Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, one of 8 children, Martha lived in an orphanage with her mother. She attended a one room school house, during her elementary years. Her family moved to Florida on a Greyhound bus in August of 1954.

Married at an early age she soon after had two boys and a daughter. Her late husband was in the Marines and they were married 35 years before he passed away.
For many years, Martha drove a school bus and finally retired on Sept.8, 2001. During this time she was involved with the American Red Cross where she taught classes of CPR/First Aid, AED, and nursing for 33 years. She had the privileged of going to Houston, Texas where she was involved with helping the recovery from Hurricane Ike. She is also involved in the Polk County Caregivers of Polk County.
Attending Impact Church in Lake Wales Martha has volunteered as Director of the Girls Ministries for 38 years. This was where she was introduced to Circle of Friends! As one of the very first volunteers she’s given many hours tutoring, working in the office and working the many fundraisers. The most valuable thing she helps with is calming a parent or student when needed, listening to someone whose heart is broken. She also takes students back and forth to doctor appointments. They love and trust her to take care of them.
As hobbies she loves crafts, reading, crocheting & traveling.

Helping people at Circle of Friends Ministry and helping those in her community is what Martha loves to do best!

Joe Capitano, Sr., St. Peter Claver Catholic School

Founded in 1894 St. Peter Claver Catholic School (SPCCS) is the oldest African American school still functioning in the State of Florida and has been serving the needs of underprivileged and disadvantaged children for 120 years in Tampa Bay. The school enjoys a rich legacy in the community and past students include actress Butterfly McQueen, minister Abe Brown, educator Blanche Armwood, and federal Judge Charles R. Wilson. Enrollment has been up to 350 but the widening of interstate 275 impacted student population. As low income housing was demolished enrollment plummeted to 87. The Diocese of St. Petersburg intended to close the school in summer of 2007. Fortunately an extraordinary leader stepped up and made a difference. Joe Capitano, Sr., who has been an advocate of the school for over 17 years refused to sit back and watch the school close. Joe’s dedication to ensuring inner-city children are provided with a safe, nurturing, le arning environment was the fuel that fired his mission to save the school. Through Joe’s countless hours and years of volunteering miracles happen every day. Today 170 students are enrolled and the following strategic initiatives have successfully been completed: new computer & science lab, daily free healthy breakfast and lunch program, organized sports program, and exposure to music and art curriculum. What makes Joe so special is “how” he leads. He balances his crusader personality of refusing to accept NO for an answer and not stopping until the job is done with that of a peace-keeper. He is a true “man for others” and treats his fellow man with dignity and respect. He associates with, befriends, and helps people of all ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. Joe has made and continues to make on a daily basis an extraordinary difference in the lives of the children at SPCCS.

Will Carey, Tampa Bay Harvest

Since 1994, Will Carey has demonstrated the kind of dedication, enthusiasm, and leadership that the Tampa Bay area gravitates to when the issue of hunger in the community surfaces. Tampa Bay Harvest (TBH) has made it their mission to ‘end hunger in our community’. Will took this mission and ran. With a background in cooking, Will quickly realized that food waste was prevalent in many business arenas. This was not something Will could live with…. Thus, his connection with TBH was born and Will began picking up left over food from local Tampa Bay businesses and delivering it those community agencies that could recycle and utilize it (i.e. homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc.). Most recently, Will has expanded TBH efforts to include community impact gardens. These gardens are strategically placed throughout the Tampa Bay area and produce fresh healthy food staples to those in our community that are in need. Even more importan tly, these community impact gardens afford opportunities for the community to be involved with volunteering, experiential education opportunities, and increases community and business collaboration throughout the Tampa Bay Area. All of these things are the vision of Executive Director, Will Carey. Will not only wants those in need to eat – he wants them to eat fresh healthy food AND learn how they can grow these food items themselves and become more sustainable. Will Carey has been seen most recently in articles/interviews with the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9, as well. Will was also awarded recipient for ‘Volunteer of the Year’ via the Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger. Will’s efforts are selfless and always for the good of Tampa Bay. Working closely with community agencies and businesses throughout Tampa Bay, Will’s vision is to have the collaborative effort become a road everyone wants to be on.

Tammy Denbo, People For Haiti

Tammy Denbo has live in the Tampa Bay area for 36 years. She dedicates her life to helping others. She continually contributes her time to many non-profit organizations. She organizes large-scale volunteer projects at Hope Children’s Home. She is the former Chair of the Make A Wish Foundation Advisory Board, where she helped grant nearly 100 wishes per year during her tenure.

She is currently an attorney, but is also a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleader. When she stopped cheering, she became a Sideline Assistant to the cheerleaders, mentoring many of these young women by inviting them to work in her law firm to instill work ethic and to carve out a career path for themselves.

In 2011, Tammy was appointed to the Board of Directors for the FBI National Citizens Academy Chapters within two regions, where she supports the FBI through community service outreach programs. She is an active member of the Junior League of Tampa, where volunteers on a multitude of projects.

Tammy is acting President of Administration for People For Haiti, where she regularly travels to Haiti to assist on medical missions (she has been on 11 trips). People For Haiti provides free healthcare to about 4000 patients a year. She personally raised $15,000 to provide a water filtration system to a Haitian orphanage. She put together and ran a golf tournament that raised $37,000 for the cause. She also recently completed a trip to Panama with Floating Doctors. She is currently enrolled in classes to become an Emergency Medical Technician, so that she can provide more assistance on her medical mission trips.

Tammy Denbo packs more into one week than most people do in a year. She has a heart of gold and always puts others before herself. No one is more deserving of this award.

Dawn Greenwood, LAMPLighters

Dawn Greenwood, a long time member of LAMPLighters which is a women’s organization focusing on the needs of homeless, abandoned, abused, and neglected children in our community, is the kind of volunteer every organization wishes they had.

She sees what needs to be done and quietly goes about getting the job done. She is caring, compassionate and has a heart of gold. She believes deeply in the mission of LAMPLighters and cares for each child in residence at Metropolitan Ministries as if they were her own beloved grandchild.

For many years Dawn has chaired the annual LAMPLighters Valentine’s Day, Easter and Summer Splash parties for all the children at Metropolitan Ministries. She plans and organizes all the crafts, games, activities and food for these highly anticipated parties. The children range in age from pre-school to teens and she makes sure there is something to please everyone. The parties help the children enjoy the holidays and feel special. She shops for bathing suits for each child and LAMPLighters provides each child with a towel and beach bag so they can participate in swimming lessons at the nearby YMCA. She rarely asks for help other than for volunteers to come to the events and enjoy being with the children.

Dawn offers insightful suggestions at LAMPLighters meetings because of her in-depth knowledge of operations at Metropolitan Ministries and her hands on work with the children. She knows the children by name and she knows their family’s needs. She is always willing to volunteer to do one more thing and has been a long time member of the “kitchen krewe” for the LAMPLighters Christmas Silver Coffee, an annual fundraiser to support Metropolitan Ministries.

Dawn was approached by the Assistant Director of School Age Programs at Metropolitan Ministries to see if she would volunteer in the Afterschool Program to help with homework and summer camp programs. Of course she said "Yes" and has become a dedicated weekly volunteer of many years. She continued to volunteer even while battling a serious illness because of her concern for the children. The children love and respect Ms. Dawn and always give her hugs. “It’s always a better day when Ms. Dawn is here” one of the children noted. She is known for bringing treats, crafts and things they need like school supplies.

Her compassion grows during the holidays when she serves as a Red Apron, a supervisor of volunteers, in the Kid Zone at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Center. She leads numerous shifts in November and December. The Kid Zone is a fun and safe place for children to enjoy the holiday spirit while their families are visiting the Holiday Center to receive food and other needed assistance for the holidays.

Dawn is a tireless champion for children in need. She doesn’t seek the spotlight for all her efforts, rather she shines the light of her many talents and great heart on the children who so need a bright spot in their lives. Dawn would be a most deserving WEDU Be More Mason Dixon award winner representing selfless volunteerism in our Tampa Bay community.

Etta Johnson Huff, Young Performing Artists (YPAs), Inc.

We, Young Performing Artists (YPAs), Inc., nominate Etta Johnson Huff, our extraordinary volunteer who makes a difference in the lives of all that she meets. At first, Ms. Huff was reluctant to get involved because her son, Ellis Johnson, is an NFL Superstar. Her hesitance was because she felt people would think that she wanted to take over because of who her son was and/ or people would try to take advantage because of her son’s status. She became involved after the death of her mother, Mrs. Audrey Johnson, who was a strong community supporter. After her mom’s death, Ms. Huff decided to answer our call for someone from her mom’s family to carry on her mother’s legacy. With that strong desire and commitment, she answered the call with grace, style and a smile; she has not looked back. She hit our starting gate and hasn’t stopped running yet. Ms. Huff is our go to person when we need to feed student particip ants to getting the funds, without bothering her famous son, to feed the student participants. She works well with the parents, the other volunteers, the community, the church, the county i.e. she just graduated from the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class 2013 as our representative. We echo the sentiment of Andrew Cripps, Executive Director of Sumter County Chamber, when he stated at the award ceremony: “I applaud Ms. Etta for she was accepted in the 2012 class and due to illness couldn’t participate. Through her persistence, she was entered with the 2013 class which she has successfully completed. Persistence is a strong leadership quality and Ms. Etta has a big portion.” We are so thankful for volunteers of Ms. Etta’s stature; not a bad record for someone who didn’t want to get involved.

Margo Knighton, The Red Apple School, Inc.

The Red Apple School, Inc. would like to nominate Ms. Margo Knighton for the Mason Dixon Award for Volunteerism. The Red Apple School is a non-profit organization located in New Port Richey, Florida that provides meaningful activities at our Adult Day Training Center to Adults with Developmental Disabilities such as Intellectual Disabilities, Autism, Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy and various other disabilities. Ms. Knighton has been volunteering at the Red Apple for 15 years.

15 years ago, when the Red Apple School only had six students, Ms. Knighton, known to The Red Apple Students as Ms. Margo, came to volunteer for the first time. At the time, she had stopped working due to health issues and her daughter in-law suggested she occupy her time by volunteering at The Red Apple. Ms. Margo will be the first to tell you that right from the start this population captured her heart. Ms. Margo describes this population as being compassionate, open, honest and so unassuming with no pretense. She never imagined that this amazing population of people would give her as much, if not more, than what she gives to them. She has developed a special rapport with each student and recognizes that each one has their own personalities, hopes, dreams and desires and are no different than anyone else. She reports that when she hears a student say: “I can’t do this”, she tells them “yes, you can” and always manages to ease their mind a nd encourages them to try. As the years have passed and The Red Apple student population has grown to 140 students, Ms. Margo continues to come to The Red Apple every Tuesday with a smile on her face. She helps to teach the students skills in the kitchen such as how to be safe, how to cook and how to follow a recipe. She will help one on one with a student struggling to learn math. She helps to teach the students what their rights are and how to recognize abuse and get help if it happens to them. Ms. Margo has a gift of teaching respect and manners. She continues to educate our students on something we call “Manners with Ms. Margo" that she started years ago. She will role play with the students on being respectful, using proper voice tones, attitudes and friendly reminders on simply saying "please" and "thank you". She is a great listener and a “make it happen” kind of person. A true advocate for our students and so loved a nd respected here by all. She is always willing to help wherever she is needed.

Ms. Margo has stated that she has been very fortunate in her life and she feels very strongly that everyone should give back to people in their communities. She reports that ultimately, it is you that gets back so much more when you make that one person smile or teach a person a new skill or just boost their self-esteem.

The staff and the students of The Red Apple School, Inc. feel that Ms. Margo Knighton is so deserving of this award for her time and effort that she has dedicated to making all of us laugh, smile, learn more and feel better about ourselves.

Donna Lancaster, Zonta Club of Pinellas County

Florida is the third most active state in the US for Human Trafficking, a crime tantamount to Slavery of human beings. Both sexes may be involved; all ages as well as both sexes. Of particular concern to the International organization Donna is a member of, Zonta International, is the trafficking of young girls and women for the Sex Trade. (Farm labor and domestic servitude are other destinations for trafficked persons then enslaved by their captors). Donna works tirelessly through Board positions with Zonta Club of Pinellas as well as International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators, based in Clearwater and a premier group in the training of law enforcement throughout the US in recognition, rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking. If you’re having trouble viewing this email, you may see it online.

Arthur Leasure, Dunedin Fine Art Center

Arthur D. Leasure is a supreme volunteer and the Dunedin Fine Art Center (DFAC) would have a big hole in its daily life without him. DFAC is a top priority for Arthur. Every day he is here from 8:30 am to 12 noon, making sure that the facility and our satellite sites are in good working order. Arthur is our Facilities Manager, an incredibly valuable volunteer ‘employee’, who is always professional, kind and devoted to doing an exceptional job.

His love of the art center’s mission, staff, members and students is known by all. One hears staff asking: “can Arthur please fix my telephone; Arthur, I really need your help to prepare the Gallery walls.” Staff depends upon Arthur for many jobs that need a ‘go-to’ person, a ‘fixer’ and ‘jack’ of all trades. Arthur is a painter, carpenter, buyer, organizer and master of all trades.

He is a generous donor to Circle of 100, and was a capital campaign donor for Vision 2010 the East Wing Expansion. Arthur headed up the Space Planning Committee that put together the plan for the East Wing. His knowledge of the art center’s needs was invaluable in planning this space. Now, two years later, DFAC is expanding again. Arthur is helping with the temporary closing of the main administrative office for construction and helping staff to relocate into a gallery.

On top of the countless things that he does for the facility, he is very thoughtful and runs our ‘cake of the month’ with his wife, Beverly. All of the staff love their homemade cakes.

Arthur has been a volunteer since 2001 and served for six years on our Board of Directors while he worked every day. He never confused his role as our volunteer facilities manager with his charge as a board member.

Bruce Marsh, Firehouse Cultural Center

I have known Bruce for six years now and have worked with him through Ruskin Big Draw, the SouthShore Arts Council and the Firehouse Cultural Center. In all of these years, Bruce has never ceased to want to educate and teach about drawing, Ruskin history, photography, color, art and more art. He never stops teaching. He is in constant motion working and volunteering to build, to install, to teach, to do whatever it takes to offer culture and art to the south shore area. If he doesn’t have the tool right there in his pocket, it will be in his car, or his house is just a short drive away. He and his wife Dolores know so many artists through teaching and being artists themselves, that it is easy for them to make connections to bring world class artists to Ruskin to work with the community in workshops and classes. Since moving to this area and meeting Bruce & Dolores, I have never lacked for opportunities to learn about art and to meet other artists. Even though Bruce is retired from the University of South Florida, he has maintained his connections to the university and those connections have benefited the small town of Ruskin, FL. He has also spent numerous hours volunteering for the Ruskin Community Development Foundation which was founded in 1994 to work toward the revitalization of Ruskin, to develop eco-tourism options, improved coordination of government and social services and development of funding sources for community projects. He has spent many hours meeting with County Commissioners on community improvements and toward procuring the vacated Firehouse in downtown Ruskin to become the Firehouse Cultural Center which had it’s ribbon cutting in September of this year. This has been an endeavor that spanned over three years of hard work by many volunteers, but Bruce is always there teaching, helping and working as hard as ever.

Brian McEwen, Champions for Children

Visionaries occur infrequently in the nonprofit and public sectors. When they do arrive, they are a missionary for their passion, their every word applauded by an audience of stakeholders hungry for an ethical leader they can respect and from whom they can learn what great leadership should be. It is a pity that such leadership is a rare, but bright light in a troubled world, yet one is grateful for their influence to change so much for so many. In a macroeconomic structure their gifts become legacy. It would be easy to Google for global visionaries and prattle on about them, but that would be predictable and self-serving.

On a microeconomic level, I can, however, babble on about Brian McEwen, Executive Director (ED) of Champions for Children. One of many people of passion and intellect who run nonprofits and NGOs throughout the world, Brian’s relentless pursuit of "how things should be," coupled with his notable competence and intellect, set him apart from the status-quo. Nested in communities short on money and long on need, people like Brian try to make a difference in people’s lives, whilst changing their perceptions and improving their quality of life.
Champions for Children, located in Tampa, Florida, spent the last 30 years as The Child Abuse Council. While its mission was to arrest bad adult behavior and provide a safe haven for children of abuse, the needs of the community, its culture, and its diversity informed a new mission and vision for the nonprofit. Families are made stronger despite adversity, children are safer, education in academics and life skills are necessities. Funding comes hard to such programs, as donors are queasy about financial involvement with child abuse missions, hence the name change of the agency. But Brian, an intellect from a family of intellects, speaks eloquently of the agency’s need, soothingly patting the donor’s outreached hand, while cleverly and patiently navigating city, state, and federal funding processes. I bloody worship this man, for he knows what many of us don’t: people do care and want to care, but they are overwhelmed by the need. Brian makes sure the nonpro fit shot in the arm is painless, and you will feel better.

Frank Scruggs, St. Petersburg College

Dr. Scruggs has volunteered as a tutor in the Learning Support Center at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus of St. Petersburg College for 18 years. Since 2003 he has logged 4,021 hours tutoring our students in math, chemistry, and physics. Dr. Scruggs is dedicated to our students and dedicated to his position as a tutor. He uses public transportation to make the trip to our campus four mornings a week. He rarely misses and always gives us advance notice. Dr. Scruggs is one of those rare individuals who loves helping struggling students. He faces the challenge daily with a smile on his face knowing that some students may be frustrated and not demonstrate gratefulness or graciousness. He treats all students with respect and he in turn is treated with respect. He is here to make a difference in students’ lives, and he does his very best to help our students succeed and to reach their goals. Our students and our staff are very grateful to Dr. Scruggs for his contribution to student success at St. Petersburg College.

Beverly Steele, Young Performing Artists (YPAs), Inc.

We, Young Performing Artists (YPAs), Inc., nominate Etta Johnson Huff, our extraordinary volunteer who makes a difference in the lives of all that she meets. At first, Ms. Huff was reluctant to get involved because her son, Ellis Johnson, is an NFL Superstar. Her hesitance was because she felt people would think that she wanted to take over because of who her son was and/ or people would try to take advantage because of her son’s status. She became involved after the death of her mother, Mrs. Audrey Johnson, who was a strong community supporter. After her mom’s death, Ms. Huff decided to answer our call for someone from her mom’s family to carry on her mother’s legacy. With that strong desire and commitment, she answered the call with grace, style and a smile; she has not looked back. She hit our starting gate and hasn’t stopped running yet. Ms. Huff is our go to person when we need to feed student particip ants to getting the funds, without bothering her famous son, to feed the student participants. She works well with the parents, the other volunteers, the community, the church, the county i.e. she just graduated from the Sumter County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class 2013 as our representative. We echo the sentiment of Andrew Cripps, Executive Director of Sumter County Chamber, when he stated at the award ceremony: “I applaud Ms. Etta for she was accepted in the 2012 class and due to illness couldn’t participate. Through her persistence, she was entered with the 2013 class which she has successfully completed. Persistence is a strong leadership quality and Ms. Etta has a big portion.” We are so thankful for volunteers of Ms. Etta’s stature; not a bad record for someone who didn’t want to get involved.

 

Spelling and grammar have not been corrected. Essays have been included as submitted.

Voting is closed.

 

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