United Way of Central Florida

United Way Honors Highlands County Community Leaders

Black Logo News Release
April 20, 2011

Contact: Daniel Jimenez
United Way of Central Florida
863.648.1500 x 257
Cell # 407.924.3445

Volunteer of the Year and Citizen of the Year Named

Sebring, FL – The Highlands County Division of the United Way of Central Florida (UWCF) hosted its Annual Meeting on April 20 at the Kenilworth Lodge. The organization gathered to celebrate volunteerism and assess the impact United Way is making on the communities in Highlands County.

Julie Fells, Highlands County Director for United Way, welcomed those in attendance and acknowledged the accomplishments of the volunteers and partners that make the United Way an organization that builds better lives and stronger communities. Kevin Roberts, CEO of the Champion for Children Foundation, provided the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.

Dan McAuliff, Director of Institutional Effectiveness at South Florida Community College and United Way Advisory Board Chair for 2010, took the stage to discuss how the United Way is impacting the community by focusing its efforts in the areas of income, education and health. Next, Sandi Whidden, Principal at Sebring Middle School, shared a personal story about how the United Way was able to help her daughter during a time of need.

Robin Scheck, Manager at SunTrust Bank and 2011 Advisory Board Chair, presented appreciation awards to the 2010 Highlands County Advisory Board Chair and Campaign Chairs. The 2010 Advisory Board members were:

William Allbritton Heartland National Bank

Joe Bustamante Publix Southgate Plaza

Charlie Cox Wicks, Brown, Williams, & Co. CPA’s

Wally Cox School Board of Highlands County

Rebecca Fleck School Board of Highlands County

Rich Hetherton Lykes Bros.

Dusty Johnson Heacock Insurance Group Inc.

Sandy Marcum Highlands Independent Bank

Dan McAuliff South Florida Community College

Steve New Highlands County Sheriff’s Office

Sophia Peavy TD Bank

Shannon Sapp Highlands Independent Bank

Robin Scheck SunTrust Bank


Annual Meeting – Page 2

McAuliff also presented awards to four members of the board of directors who retired this year after many years of service to the Highlands County Division of the United Way. The retiring board members were:

Annie Alexander-Harvey South Florida Community College

Bill Benton NCT Group, CPA’s

Carl Cool Carl Cool Engineering

Donna Snyder Florida Hospital

Tina Gottus, Publisher of Highlands Today and 2011 Annual Meeting Chair, came forward to recognize South Florida Community College for its continued support of United Way. The college provides free office space to the United Way, which allows us to invest more dollars in the community. Dr. Norm Stephens, President of South Florida Community College, accepted the award. Gottus also thanked Atlanticblue, Florida Hospital Heartland Division, and Glades Electric Cooperative for sponsoring the 2010 Day of Caring, an annual event which gives volunteers an opportunity to participate in service projects throughout their community. The 2011 Day of Caring is scheduled for May 4th.

Dusty Johnson, Commercial Lines Manager at Heacock Insurance Group and 2010 and 2011 Campaign Chair, recognized Alan Jay Wildstein, owner of Alan Jay Automotive Network, for his contributions as an Alexis de Tocqueville Society member of the United Way of Central Florida – Highlands County Division. Membership in the society is granted to individuals and families who invest $10,000 or more annually to United Way. Wildstein has been a member of this elite society since 2002.

Johnson also recognized JD and Cindy Alexander from Atlanticblue for their contributions to the Alexis de Tocqueville Society. The Alexanders have been Alexis de Tocqueville members since 2004.

Awards were presented to recognize exemplary corporate citizenship of companies that generated the highest total number of dollars pledged in Highlands County. The Top Ten Dollar Accounts winners for 2010 are:

1. Publix Supermarkets - $126,505.25

2. School Board of Highlands County – $77,245.98

3. Alan Jay Automotive Network – $30,684

4. Lykes Bros. Inc. - $20,033.93

5. Florida Hospital Heartland Division - $17,674.58

6. Highlands Independent Bank –$14,173.48

7. South Florida Community College – $12,188

8. Highlands County Board of County Commissioners - $11,185.78

9. Heartland National Bank – $11,058

10. SunTrust Bank and Heacock Insurance Group (tie) – Each with approximately $8,300


Annual Meeting – Page 3

Awards were also presented to companies that achieved the highest per capita employee gifts based on the total employee contributions. Through this analysis, the United Way selected the following Generous Givers winners.

1. MorganStanley SmithBarney – Per capita gift of $1,024.00

2. NCT Group CPA’s – Per capita gift of $333.69

3. Heacock Group Inc – Per capita gift of $238.57

4. Heartland National Bank – Per capita gift of $235.28

5. Publix Supermarkets – Per capita gift of $184.94

6. Alan Jay Automotive Network – Per capita gift of $148.19

7. SunTrust Bank – Per capita gift of $139.33

8. The Andersons, Inc. - Per capita gift of $110.00

9. Highlands Independent Bank – Per capita gift of $109.21

10. Atlanticblue – Per capita gift of $85.50

The United Way recognized those employee coordinators that went above and beyond for their campaigns and brought about great results. Jim Howard, Sebring High School, increased the school’s previous campaign by 42.4%, which was the highest increase of all the participating schools. Lisa Bryson, Highlands County Tax Collector, helped increase campaign dollars raised by 173% over last year, employee participation by 384%, and employee per capita donations by 211%. Bianca Bayser, Lake Placid Publix, increased her store’s prior campaign by 28.24%, raising an additional $8,381 for a total of $38,056. Don Elwell, Alan Jay Automotive Network, helped raise a total of $30,684 in employee donations.

Jennifer Williams, Branch Manager at Highlands Independent Bank and a member of the 2011 Community Investment Team, presented appreciation awards to the 2010 Community Investment Team Co-Chairs Steve New and Dan McAuliff. The Community Investment Teams assume the task of reviewing the agency programs to offer the best possible return on our donor’s dollars.

Doris Gentry-Hawthorne, United Way 2003 Volunteer of the Year recipient, announced Susie Bishop as the 2010 United Way Citizen of the Year. Bishop is the Business Development Manager for Atlanticblue.

Wally Cox, superintendent of schools, announced Jeff Roth as the 2010 United Way Volunteer of the Year. Roth currently serves as Director of the Children's Advocacy Center.

To be considered for this award, candidates must be nominated by past recipients. The candidate’s United Way involvement, as well as other community involvement is a major consideration. The winner must serve as a long-term volunteer for UWCF in a leadership role.


Annual Meeting – Page 4

Robin Scheck took the stage again to congratulate all the winners and to thank Julie Fells for her dedication since she started in November 2010. She closed the program with a special thanks to all those in attendance.

Event sponsors included: Palms Court Catering and Chef Mac, Kenilworth Lodge, Lykes Bros., Robbin’s Nursery


United Way of Central Florida has been serving our local community for more than 30 years by understanding local needs and driving lasting change to build better lives and stronger communities. For more information about UWCF, please contact Julie Fells at julie.fells@uwcf.org, 863-453-3401, or visit www.uwcf.org.

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