United Way of Central Florida

United Way Honors Highlands County Community Leaders

Sebring, FL – The Highlands County Division of the United Way of Central Florida (UWCF) hosted its Annual Meeting on April 4 at the Sebring Civic Center. The organization gathered to celebrate volunteerism and assess the impact United Way is making on the communities in Highlands County.

Dusty Johnson, with Heacock Insurance and the 2011 Campaign Chair 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. Wally Randall with Boys and Girls Club provided the invocation and the pledge of allegiance.

Robin Scheck, branch manager at SunTrust Bank 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, Lucy Mull with the Safe House, shared a story about one of their clients and how United Way was able to help her.

Shannon Sapp, with Highlands Independent Bank and 2012 Advisory Board Chair, presented appreciation awards to the 2011 Highlands County Advisory Board Chair and Campaign Chair. The 2011 Advisory Board members were:

Cathy Albritton        Florida Hospital
William Allbritton        Heartland National Bank
Claudia Bishop        TD Bank
Roland Bishop            Laye’s Tire Service
Charlie Cox            Wicks, Brown, & Williams, CPA’s
Wally Cox            School Board of Highlands County
Rebecca Fleck            School Board of Highlands County
Tina Gottus            Highlands Today
Greg Harris            Highlands YMCA
Rich Hetherton        Lykes Bros.
Dusty Johnson            Heacock Group Inc.
Dan McAuliff            South Florida Community College
Steve New            Highlands County Sheriff’s Office
David Plank            The Andersons
Shannon Sapp            Highlands Independent Bank
Robin Scheck            SunTrust Bank
Dr. Norm Stephens        South Florida Community College

New 2012 board members were announced as well:

Nicole Barben            Community Volunteer
Chris Benson            Highlands County Board of County Commissioners
Cathie Davis            Publix Super Markets store #1347
Trevor Murphy        Murphy Ag Solutions
Scott Noethlich        City of Sebring
Jeannie Snively        Wheeler Farms
Bob Swaine            Swaine & Harris, PA
Laura Wade            Avon Park Chamber of Commerce

Sapp also presented awards to two 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:

Joe Bustamante        Publix Super Markets Southgate Plaza
Sandy Marcum         Highlands Independent Bank

Nancy Nichols, with SunTrust and a member of the 2012 Community Investment Team, presented appreciation awards to the 2011 Community Investment Team Co-Chairs Steve New and Claudia Bishop. The Community Investment Teams assume the task of reviewing the agency programs to offer the best possible return on our donors dollars. Nichols also welcomed our new partner agencies and programs: Boys and Girls Club- Project Learn, Early Learning Coalition- Learning Accomplishment Profile, and Webber International University- Avon Park High School tutoring.

Jan Shoop, with Sebring International Raceway and Steering Committee Member for the new Women United (WU) for United Way, introduced our new Early Literacy Initiative. Currently, 43% of children entering kindergarten do not have the skills they need to read and this is a problem that the WU is very passionate about. Women United has been working with the school board to create a volunteer reading program for our low performing kindergarteners. We will be recruiting volunteers to go into classes once a week for an hour to read to these children. This new program will be piloting in the fall at Avon Elementary and Lake Country Elementary, which are our two D elementary schools. We are looking forward to getting this new program going.

Tina Gottus, Publisher of Highlands Today and 2012 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 2011 Day of Caring, an annual event which gives volunteers an opportunity to participate in service projects throughout their community. The 2012 Day of Caring is scheduled for May 2nd and we are still accepting teams.

Dusty Johnson, with Heacock Insurance and 2011 Campaign Chair, thank all the businesses that ran campaigns this year. This year 55 local businesses and government entities ran campaigns and we had well over 2,000 donors! Thanks to all their support United Way in Highlands County were able to have a total pledge of $470,000! This is the third highest campaign year in our history and a 11% increase over last year.

Johnson thanked Tami Cullens, who was our 2011 Loaned Executive and was sponsored by Mosaic Industries. Cullens has also been volunteered countless hours before and after her time as a Loaned Executive.

Johnson 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.

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 2011 are:

1.    Publix Super Markets- $137,242.95.
2.    School Board of Highlands County– $78,031.04
3.    Alan Jay Automotive Network– $37,058
4.    Florida Hospital Heartland Division- $21,002.50
5.    Lykes Bros. Inc. - $19,271.18
6.    South Florida Community College –15,566
7.    Highlands Independent Bank –$15,000
8.    SunTrust Bank –$13,900.28
9.    Heartland National Bank –$11,996.19
10.    CenturyLink –$11,748


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.    CliftonLarsonAllen – Per capita gift of $460
2.    MorganStanley SmithBarney – Per capita gift of $450
3.    SunTrust Bank – Per capita gift of $342.32
4.    Heacock Group Inc – Per capita gift of $257.34
5.    Heartland National Bank – Per capita gift of $249.92
6.    Publix Super Markets – Per capita gift of $201.65
7.    Wicks, Brown, Williams– Per capita gift of $154.25
8.    Highlands Independent Bank – Per capita gift of $121.51
9.    Alan Jay Automotive Network – Per capita gift of $121.32
10.    The Andersons, Inc. - Per capita gift of $117

The United Way recognized those employee coordinators that went above and beyond for their campaigns and brought about great results. Brian Stokes, with the North Sebring Publix, helped increase their campaign by 29% for a total gift of $56,112. Belinda Decker, with the Clerk of Courts, helped increase their campaign by 163%! Susie Hale with South Florida Community College, helped increase their campaign by 27% to bring their campaign to their highest total ever! And finally, Robin Scheck, SunTrust, was named Employee Coordinator of the Year. SunTrust's average employee gift increased by an astounding $203 this year! She doubled her employee giving and raised a total of $13,900.

Susie Bishop, Business Development Manager for atlanticblue and the 2010 Citizen of the Year recipient, announced John Shoop as the 2011 United Way Citizen of the Year. Shoop is the CEO at Highlands Independent Bank. He served on the United Way Advisory Board for six years, three of which he was board chair. In addition to all his contributions to United Way, he also volunteers throughout the community! He is a member of the Economic Development Commission/Industrial Development Authority, Sebring Firemen, Highlands County Fair Board, 4H Advisory Committee, Highlands County Parks and Recreation Committee, Kiwanis, and a longtime YMCA board member.

Bill Benton, partner at CliftonLarsonAllen, announced Dan McAuliff as the 2011 United Way Volunteer of the Year. McAuliff currently serves as a Director at South Florida Community College. McAuliff has been a volunteer for United Way for what seems like forever. He’s been an Advisory Board member for 10+ years and has served in almost every role, including board chair. The word “no” doesn’t exist in his vocabulary and he’s always willing to help with anything.

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.

Robin Scheck took the stage again to congratulate all the winners. She closed the program with a special thanks to all those in attendance.

Event sponsors included: Palms Court Catering and Chef Mac, 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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