United Way of Central Florida

United Way Honors Polk County Community Leaders

Black_Logotext.jpg News Release
April 13, 2011

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

George W. Jenkins Volunteer of the Year and Citizen of the Year Named

Lakeland, FL – The United Way of Central Florida (UWCF) hosted its Annual Meeting on April 12 at Highland Park Church of the Nazarene. The organization honored a number of individuals and organizations who helped make 2010 a successful year.

United Way President Terry Worthington 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. Pastor Brett Rickey of Highland Park Church of the Nazarene provided the invocation.

Next, Dr. Eileen Holden, President of Polk State College and United Way Board member, announced that Whole Child Florida and the Pearson Foundation had presented the 2010 Community Innovation Literacy Award to the United Way’s “Let’s Grow Every Child Every Chance” early literacy program. Let’s Grow is a collaborative approach to eliminating the gap in early literacy between children from low and middle to upper income levels. Worthington thanked Publix Super Markets Charities, the Jenkins Family and Carol and Barney Barnett for providing the funding to make the program possible.

After dinner, Terry Brigman, United Way’s Community Impact Chair, 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.

James Horton, State Farm Insurance, and 2010 Loaned Executive Chair, introduced the 2010 Loaned Executives (LEs). These 10 individuals worked for three and a half months alongside resource development staff to ensure the success of the campaign. The 2010 loaned executives were:
Hope Bogel         Sponsored by Watson Clinic
Tom Costello         Sponsored by Lakeland Regional Medical Center
Monica Dandridge     CCC Group
Tanya Eldemire         State Farm Insurance
Candy Hamlin         State Farm Insurance
Lindsey Harris         CF Industries
Betsy Horne         Sponsored by Winter Haven Hospital
Joey Touchstone         Publix Super Markets
Cristen Vaughan         GEICO
Amanda Wright          Publix Super Markets

Four awards were presented to recognize exemplary corporate citizenship of companies that support the United Way of Central Florida. The Spirit of Central Florida Award and three Summit Award recipients were selected through an objective analysis of their campaign best practices, measurable results, in-kind, and volunteer support. Through this analysis, the United Way established these awards last year and selected the winners.

The Summit Award is given each year to small, medium and large companies that meet objective criteria during their campaign. The small company Summit Award was given to a company with fewer than 100 employees. Jerome Ferson, 2010 Resource Development Chair and Publisher of The Ledger, presented the Small Business Campaign of the Year Award to David Robinson, CEO of DSM Technology Consultants. In the 2009 campaign, the company was able to increase its contributions by 21% over the previous year, achieved a 64% increase in Leadership Giving and had 80% employee participation.

The second Summit Award was presented to an organization with more than 100, but less than 300 employees. The Ledger Media Group accepted the award for medium company. The Ledger campaign raised $73,000, an increase of 14% over the previous year. Jerome Ferson accepted the award.

The third Summit Award went to an organization with more than 300 employees. Polk State College was presented with the Summit award for a large company. The college held several fundraising events including a talent show, car washes, soccer match and a weight loss challenge. Their campaign increased by 70% over last year to $24,609 and leadership giving went up by 241%. Eileen Holden accepted the award on Polk State College’s behalf.

The Spirit of Central Florida Award recognizes an organization that elevates corporate citizenship and community service as a core value of its company mission. The 2010 award was presented to QMI. The company achieved a 52% increase over last year and 90% employee participation. The parent company, Illinois Tool Works, rewarded their 90% participation with a 150% matching corporate gift. Campaign coordinator Owen Heatwole accepted the award.

Nat West, retired Winter Haven Hospital executive and United Way 2009 Citizen of the Year recipient, announced Rich Shapiro as the 2010 United Way Citizen of the Year. Rich has served as a United Way loaned executive, as chair of his Community Investment Team and chaired the 2010 campaign for East Polk County. He has been active with the chambers of commerce in Winter Haven, Lakeland, Auburndale, and Haines City. He recently retired from The Ledger and plans to remain an enthusiastic volunteer with the United Way of Central Florida.

United Way of Central Florida staff members nominate candidates for Citizen of the Year. Ideal candidates are contributors and volunteers involved in United Way in a primary or leadership role over a continuous period of time. Board members are not eligible. The UWCF staff makes the selection.

Cindy Price, regional manager for community relations at Tampa Electric Company and 2009 George W. Jenkins Volunteer of the Year recipient, introduced John Fitzwater as the 2010 George W. Jenkins Volunteer of the Year. John left his mark as a newspaperman across the country including in Polk County. He also served as a volunteer with the Lakeland Economic Development Council, Florida Gators, Salvation Army, Florida Council of 100, Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, Polk Museum of Art, Tampa Bay Partnership and the Community Foundation, where he now serves as President/CEO.

While at The Ledger he started Focus On Leadership, a program designed to encourage and develop minority participation on local boards and committees. He is the only person to serve United Way of Central Florida as Campaign Chair and Board Chair for two years each.

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. Employees of United Way supported agencies are not eligible. The past five recipients of the George W. Jenkins United Way Volunteer of the Year award assume the responsibility of choosing the Volunteer of the Year.

Ed Vogel, of Holland & Knight and 2010 Board Chair-elect, took the stage to congratulate all the winners and present Dave MacDougall an award for his leadership as 2009 Board Chair. He closed the program with a special thanks to all those in attendance.

Event sponsors included: Publix Super Markets, Inc., Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc., Mosaic, GEICO, Ledger Media Group, CF Industries, Inc., Lakeland Electric, Lakeland Regional Medical Center, Holland & Knight, LLP, NCT Group CPA’s, LLP, Tampa Electric, State Farm Insurance, Polk State College, Talbot House Ministries of Lakeland, Inc., Watson Clinic, LLP, and Winter Haven Hospital.


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, visit www.uwcf.org or call 863-648-1500.

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