TALLAHASSEE – Today, during a meeting of Florida’s Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman recognized four champions of service from across the state of Florida: the Legacy Mentor Program; Deputy Teddy Floyd of the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office; Justin Lee of the Savannas Preserve State Park; and Becca Toland of the Special Olympics Florida.
Governor Scott said, “I am proud to recognize these individuals today for their commitment to bettering our communities and changing lives. We are inspired by these Champions of Service whose selflessness has helped mentor children, give to families in need, and protect Florida’s precious natural resources.”
“Groups like the Legacy Mentor Program and Special Olympics Florida are built around the concept that volunteers will be there to serve,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman. “Volunteers ensure that our state parks attract more visitors, our non-profits are able to thrive, our vulnerable children receive the mentoring they need, and our law enforcement community can extend a helping hand to those in need. It is an honor to present the Champion of Service to these outstanding Florida volunteers and programs.
Legacy Mentor Program (Accepted by Mary Rebekah Fritz, Mentor Program Manager) – The Legacy Mentor Program serves foster children in Central Florida. Currently, 72 young people are in the program, and to date, 114 mentors have participated. Legacy Mentor Program volunteers serve as mentors and tutors; they are specifically trained to guide foster children’s personal growth, academic achievement and career exploration. By providing significant preventative measures and support for foster children, the Legacy Mentor Program increases academic performance, empowers students and ensures that they are equipped with life skills. In the first three months of 2015 alone, Legacy Mentor Program mentors have spent almost 200 hours with their mentees.
Deputy Teddy Floyd, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office – For over 10 years, Deputy Floyd has constructed and restored homes for needy families in his community. Under Deputy Floyd’s leadership, the homes are constructed and given to individuals who have been positive role models and contributors in the community. Deputy Floyd leads the team of builders who construct the homes, facilitating the donation of the supplies, general labor and specialty services. Thanks to Deputy Floyd, over a dozen families have been able to experience the American Dream of home ownership. Deputy Floyd has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to improve the quality of life in some of the area’s most impoverished communities.
Justin Lee, Savannas Preserve State Park – Justin has served for almost five years with Savannas Preserve State Park in Port St. Lucie, providing 1,921 service hours. Justin, who dedicates his weekends and much of his summer vacations to the park, coordinates over 40 youth volunteers, including recruitment and training. Justin has made the Park’s Education Center a fixture in the community, and designed and facilitated the summer “Mad Scientist Series,” which helps children develop STEM skills.
“I commend Justin Lee for his passion and commitment to Florida State Parks,” said DEP Secretary Jon Steverson. “Volunteers like Justin play an important role in making our state parks the best in the nation.”
Becca Toland, Special Olympics Florida – As a volunteer with Special Olympics Florida, Becca Toland has served countless hours working with athletes, staff and other volunteers. She provides administrative support and assists the staff with preparing for competitions. She continues to volunteer at Special Olympics Florida, while growing into the role of a community advocate for others with unique abilities.
The Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award honors individuals and groups for their outstanding volunteer efforts. For more information about the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Awards, click HERE.