NAPLES, FL (Dec. 18, 2018) – The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Collier County Commissioners selected Grace Place for Children and Families as the Business of the Month for December 2018.
Each month, the award is presented to an organization that has enhanced the community through financial, volunteer and active involvement in organizations and programs that assist in creating a better quality of life for all citizens in Collier County.
The Board of Collier County Commissioners and Bethany Sawyer, the director of membership at The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, presented Tim Ferguson, CEO, with a commemorative plaque at the Dec. 11, 2018 County Commission meeting.
Grace Place for Children and Families is a non-profit educational agency serving children and families identified as at-risk in the Golden Gate community. Comprehensive family literacy, early childhood education, out of school and summer programs, adult education and a weekly food pantry are the core educational and support services designed and delivered to break the cycle of poverty for children and families through education in Golden Gate.
Grace Place for Children and Families provides comprehensive programming to over 950 students and 700 families residing in the Golden Gate community. Education programs include early childhood education, school-age and adult education. English language learning, financial literacy and citizenship classes support the educational needs of adults in Collier County. The weekly Food Pantry program provides essential supplemental food to needy families in Collier County.
The organization has over 500 volunteers from the community supporting all the educational and support services programs provided through Grace Place. Additionally, Grace Place collaborates with multiple organizations in Collier County, the State of Florida and at the national level providing services and support to children and families identified as at-risk residing in Collier County.
Happy holidays and thank you to our Visitor Information Center Volunteers! Each year all VIC volunteers gather to share the spirit of the Holidays and to celebrate the commitment they have for each other with friendship and enthusiasm as we start another New Year.
This year our Volunteers of the Year are Sue Corrigan and Kay Passensky! As Lori Lou Waddell, the Chamber's visitor information specialist put it...
“If tenure was the only prerequisite for being recognized for an award at the Visitor Information Center, our next two recipients would have earned a place at the podium many, many years ago, but, length of service is only one component of being a Super Hero Volunteer.
Our volunteers wear so many hats during the course of one day…they are navigators, referral sources, community supporters, historians and problem solvers for thousands of guests every year.
Our award winners are best of friends, who together with purpose and aplomb, have been making their annual snowbird migration down to Naples since 1998…that’s 20 years of commuting and communicating on our behalf.
They are both retired from individually notable careers as educators, and maintain that teaching and education, at all levels is the corner stone that prepares us for our own distinct life journey.
With the sincere desire to help our visitors with information about Chamber members and meticulous details about Collier County’s history, I know that Sue Corrigan and Kay Passensky are the perfect choice for this year’s volunteer of the year award.
We congratulate and honor our dual award winners, for their 20 years of volunteer service and their voice to ensure that Collier County continues to be the best place in American to live, work and visit."
We know that the impact of volunteerism is so significant, to those doing it and those receiving it, that we can’t accurately measure it, and, it is for this reason that the benevolence that unites us for the good of others is so important. The ROI on volunteerism is simply too big to tabulate with numbers alone.
We have a lot to be thankful for…and the annual list of volunteers who deserve applause for their dedication as a VIC Volunteer is yet another example.
This year, we congratulate and recognize Hildegard Carney, Peg Connors, Myron Johnson, Carol Pribble and Gayle Rose for their 11 years of volunteerism.
Congratulations to our volunteers who have served for a span between 18 to 24 years at the VIC, and they are, in alphabetical order: the afore mentioned Sue Corrigan and Kay Passensky with 20 years, Ethel Ferraro (18 years), Mary Liz Fronmuller (21 years), Jack Kaufman (22 years) and Pat Peters (18 years).
And a special thank you to Mary Lou Connone, who celebrated 25 years of volunteerism with us last year and raises the bar and inspires all of us.
Including all of our volunteers, this year we logged in a total of 439 years of service dedicated to educating our visitors about all of the fun that is waiting, just around the corner for them, in Naples and Collier County.
We have a powerful and positive image of Naples to uphold and we are proud and grateful that we get to do it with each of our wonderful and committed VIC Volunteers!
Last year, just before Christmas, a woman named Jessica and her two children came to our emergency shelter. Jessica had found the courage to take her children and leave her abusive boyfriend, but each time she found a family to take them in, he would hunt them down, endangering everyone involved. On one occasion, he found Jessica and beat her so badly that she ended up in the hospital, where medical staff referred her to The Shelter.
It was very difficult for Jessica to bring her children to an emergency shelter during the holiday season. Over the course of their first few days in shelter, a staff member set up a special mailbox to collect children’s letters to Santa Claus. The letters allowed the children to share their wishes as well as the opportunity for shelter staff and volunteers to make those wishes come true.
While reading through the letters, one advocate stopped to wipe away a tear. In her hand she held the letter from Jessica’s seven year old son Isaiah. It simply read, “Dear Santa, What I want for Christmas is a house for me and my family.”
It was his only wish. Something that most of us take for granted – a safe place to live – was the greatest gift this seven year old could imagine for himself and his family.
Isaiah received several toys and some new clothes that year, but thanks to The Shelter and its many service partners, he eventually got his special Christmas wish. During her time at The Shelter, Jessica was empowered to take charge of her life. She secured a job and saved up enough money to move her family into a tiny one-bedroom apartment. Although small in size, having their own place was a big accomplishment for Jessica and a dream-come-true for Isaiah.
It's stories like this why we choose to give back to our wonderful community. The Shelter for Abused Women and Children is a receiving organization on our 2018 Stuff a Bus Toy Drive. We invite you to stop by the Coastland Center Mall on December 20 to help us stuff a bus full of toys for those at the Shelter and Youth Haven. Learn more about the toy drive here.
The woman and child’s names have been changed to protect their identities.
(GAIN '13, LC '17)
Sometimes, we think of graduation as an ending. The completion of a goal. The culmination of an achievement. The finale of your LCF program.
For April Donahue, her GAIN graduation in 2013 was truly commencement—a beginning.
Immediately following graduation, April began giving back to the Leadership Collier Foundation and making a stronger impact on our community.
“My GAIN and Leadership Collier experiences were instrumental in driving home the importance of community awareness and the need to seek more information on our community’s strengths and weaknesses,” April said. “I came out of each program with an increased sense of belonging to this area I call home, new friends and colleagues, and a renewed desire to contribute.”
Right away, she started sharing this message with others as a volunteer with the Leadership Collier Foundation Marketing Committee. Five years later, after serving as Vice Chair and Chair of the Marketing Committee, April remains a key contributor to the LCF messages you receive on social and in your inbox.
But, once again, this committee work was only the beginning.
April went on to complete Leadership Collier in 2017.
Utilizing her knowledge of the community and key issues, she advocated professionally and personally over the last year for One Collier, a successful initiative to differentiate funding sources in Collier County to address critical infrastructure needs and community priorities
“In addition to my roles as an LCF volunteer, I try to walk the walk and talk the talk during my daily life – I want to communicate with others how beneficial LCF is to the community and to the individuals who participate,” April said.
April is certainly walking the walk when it comes to work-based learning programs. Not only does she encourage business leaders in our community to work with LCF to provide such opportunities—she has also hosted multiple interns at the Collier County Medical Society.
“LCF is important to me for my own development as a professional, and hopefully, as a contributing member of society. Through my LCF classmates, the LCF alumni network, and the LCF programs, I continue to learn, grow, and discover new ways of giving.”
April continues to give to the next generation of leaders by planning the Healthcare/Human Services session for Youth Leadership Collier. As April looks to the future of LCF, she sees continued growth.
“I think LCF is a premier leadership program, no doubt one of the best (if not THE best) in the nation. Through alumni involvement, partnering with the stellar LCF staff, we can strive for continuous improvement, innovation, and engagement to stay at the top and cultivate the most qualified, dedicated community leaders to help steer us in the right directions.”
If you’ve had to take time away from community commitments or have lost touch with classmates, here’s April’s fast tip for getting back in touch:
“I highly recommend attending Wine Down Wednesdays for easy, casual socializing with the alumni network.”
(Take the advice of our 2018 LCF Alumni Volunteer of the Year and SIGN UP for Wine Down Wednesday today!)
It is our honor to recognize April Donahue as the 2018 LCF Alumni Volunteer of the Year. According to Amanda Beights, April says “Yes!” to nearly every LCF volunteer opportunity. April, we are incredibly grateful for your dedicated service and unwavering commitment to our programs.
2018 is in the home stretch. This is the time for looking back at the year that was and ahead at what we’d like for the year to come.
The three principles of Authentic Communication can guide your review of 2018 and your visioning for 2019. Here’s how:
The foundation for all clear, consistent and effective communication is self-awareness. It’s also key to running your team or business.
Take an inventory of your activities for the year. Go through your calendar, your email, your balance sheet. Spend a morning making a comprehensive list of everything you accomplished in 2018.
Celebrating your achievements helps cultivate a non-judgmental understanding of yourself and your business and will energize you for 2019.
Good communication requires good listening. And a year-end review needs it, too.
Pull together a list of people you trust from your various audiences: customers, suppliers, partners, industry colleagues, team members and managers. Throw your net wide, and choose people who will give you honest feedback. Then ask for it.
Send out an email requesting frank answers to these questions:
If that feels risky, it’s because it is. That’s why we start with getting solid in what went right.
Listening this way takes courage, and it’s worth it. It helps you identify the real gaps your 2019 business strategy needs to fill – the ones that affect the relationships your business is built on.
Grounded in self-awareness and insightful feedback, you’re ready to set your sights on 2019. It’s time for mindful action.
There are a variety of tools that can help with visioning for your business (like SMART Goals, OKRs and Golden Circle). Choose one that works for you and fully engage your team in deploying it. Create a safe container to call forward your team’s most innovative thinking. Then make clear, effective agreements about who will do what in the coming year.
Apply the principles of Authentic Communication – BE, LISTEN, ACT – to celebrate 2018, listen for your greatest opportunities, and prepare for a stellar 2019.
Want to share your experience or get more information? Please contact me. I’d be delighted to exchange ideas with you.
Jennifer Wasmer is the founder of DaySpring Communications, a communication consulting and coaching firm that focuses on the application of Authentic Communication for organizations, teams and individuals. Based on her 25-year career in public relations, corporate communications and coaching, Jennifer developed the Authentic Communication methodology to enhance efficiency and effectiveness, reduce misunderstandings and missed opportunities, and infuse dignity and integrity into relationships with teammates, clients, family and friends.