Collective Impact Brought to Life by Day of Caring

August 15, 2014


Heart of Florida United Way loves to talk about collective impact. Simply put, collective impact is when groups from different sectors come together to affect change. Our annual fundraising campaign is an example of our collective impact. So are our recent Children’s Summits. But perhaps the best living, breathing example of collective impact is Day of Caring.

The 23rd annual Day of Caring is September 26th. It’s an amazing effort in which dozens of Central Florida companies mobilize hundreds of their employees to work on a specific volunteer project. United Way works in three counties, so Day of Caring will include impact projects throughout Central Florida. For instance, a $15,000 housing repair grant means over 100 volunteers will join together at a Winter Park neighborhood and work toward safety and security improvements for 10 homes belonging to people who are either seniors, disabled or living with a limited income. By adding hurricane shutters, planting thorny bushes in strategic spots, adding security bars to sliding glass doors and doing a bit of sprucing up, volunteers can improve things for the people living in those homes as well as the surrounding neighborhood.

In Osceola County, United Way is working with the Osceola Council on Aging on senior housing projects for Day of Caring that will really add to quality of life. Volunteers will paint and landscape Tracey Manor, an apartment complex for low-income seniors, but a community garden for residents is also on the agenda. As part of that, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Science’s Osceola County Extension office is planning to do a nutrition program.

Corporate groups can get involved by contacting the Volunteer Resource Center at 407-429-2136 or email Projects will be posted the first week of September.

Back to School for Central Florida… and United Way, too!

August 14, 2014


Insight Credit Union’s Ryan Paris, Donnie Adamczyk and Eileen Young with Heart of Florida United Way’s Traci Blue (second from right)

The annual back to school migration is in motion, with 65,000 Seminole county students already reporting to class and an additional 350,000 Orange, Osceola, Lake and Volusia county students scheduled to return the third week in August. School start times may differ, but one statistic remains consistent statewide – 1 in 4 Florida children live in poverty. These kids need additional support throughout the school year. Fortunately, a number of companies and nonprofits stepped up help them make the grade.

“We received pens, pencils, really, a little bit of everything,” said Insight Credit Union Community Outreach Executive Donnie Adamcyk. They actually received more than “a little bit.” This year, Insight Credit Union launched a month-long school supply drive in a first-time partnership with Heart of Florida United Way. The seven branches located throughout Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties served as drop-off sites and the response was good. Insight successfully filled between eight to ten boxes with all kinds of back to school items. “We’re thrilled with the opportunity to be part of this partnership,” said Adamcyk.

In addition to supplies, other resources like tutors, mentors and volunteers make a big impact. This school year, United Way is placing 20 AmeriCorps members at Oak Ridge and Evans High Schools (10 members each) to provide academic support in English and math for 10th – 12th grade students. They will provide one-on-one mentoring to help juniors and seniors develop a written post-secondary education action plan.

This is in addition to the 14 VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) serving in 12 Title I schools in the tri-county area to recruit volunteers.

If you’re interested in helping Central Florida students get this school year started right by donating supplies or keeping it on track by volunteering as a reader, tutor or mentor, we encourage you to get involved. Most needed items include loose-leaf paper, 24 count boxes of crayons and spiral notebooks. For additional information, contact our Volunteer Resource Center at


Volunteer Spotlight: Jane Garrard, Vice President, CFO Tupperware North America

August 13, 2014

Jane Garrard0704Jane Garrard, Vice President, CFO Tupperware North America

It takes only a short conversation with Jane Garrard to recognize that she thinks in numbers. It’s understandable, given that she’s an accounting major who went on to become a C.P.A. and now a CFO. Managing the books isn’t something people usually associate with philanthropy, but that accounting perspective is one of the things that led to Garrard’s support of Heart of Florida United Way.

How long have you been involved with Heart of Florida United Way?
I moved to Florida from Dallas in 2002, so I’ve been a donor since then. But when you say personally involved, I was asked to co-chair Tupperware’s workplace campaign about six years ago. Tupperware encourages that as both a way to bring out leadership skills that can influence people and to help others understand the importance of giving.

What inspired you to get involved?
Part of Tupperware’s corporate culture is for all its officers to serve on nonprofit boards. I’ve been a member at large of the Women’s Leadership Council since 2008. I joined the board of United Way in 2010, and in 2011 I joined the finance committee. I also joined the host committee for the 2011 Chef’s Gala and served as the behind-the-scenes vice chair of the 2012 and 2013 Chef’s Gala.

What has that progression been like?
It’s been great, I’ve interacted with a lot of smart people who are as interested in building the community as I am. Joining the board also gave me a better understanding of the Investing in Results campaign. Because I’m a financial person, it’s been a pleasure to learn about and then share that United Way has really strong operating controls and financial controls. They manage administrative expenses as a percentage of giving and that’s impressive.

How does United Way fit into Tupperware’s philanthropy?
I can say that the United Way workplace campaign is the only one of its magnitude within our corporate culture. Everyone knows it’s happening and everyone knows we put dollars behind it. When it comes to charitable giving, it’s the second largest effort we have on campus.

What are your personal thoughts on donating versus volunteering?
Right now, I’m a better money giver than time giver, and that’s due to a busy schedule. But as I approach retirement I think about volunteering and I hope to give more time when I retire because I think you get more personal satisfaction from volunteering time, and that’s why I would like more time to do it.

Are you finding a lot of differences between Orlando and Dallas when it comes to the community and its level of involvement?
Orlando is very different from Dallas, but for me, in a very positive way. I spent five years in Dallas and I found it to be a big concrete city. Tupperware acquired the company I worked for in Dallas and transferred me here. I didn’t have near the number of opportunities to be involved in the community or organizations in Dallas that I have here, I think the size of Orlando is part of that. I find that the smaller size provides more opportunity. But I also think that more doors have opened as I have grown professionally because when you’re a CEO or a CFO, you’re more attractive as a board member.

If you met someone who didn’t understand what United Way is about, what would you say to get them on board?
Not only are they good stewards of the money, the whole Investing in Results strategic focus makes sure people understand where the money is going and that it is being carefully measured for impact. I find that unique and exciting. I also think they have a high quality management team.

Budgeting with Nothing

August 4, 2014


Nathelie Scarlett enjoys the pizza break during the budgeting class.

Attending a budgeting class might seem kind of pointless if you’re not even making the bills, but when given a chance, people discover they can find tools for maximizing even the tightest of budgets.

“I’m kind of stunned to see exactly how broke I am, but this is helpful,” says Al Vermette. He was one of several folks who turned out for Heart of Florida United Way’s Emergency & Homelessness Services Division budgeting class. Different circumstances led them to United Way for help… a veteran attending college was hit with an illness requiring a hospital stay; that stopped his cash flow forcing him to reach out to United Way for help. The class also included a woman who was just getting on her feet when she lost her job. She has since secured a new job through United Way’s help. Vermette, who recently returned to Florida, needed rent assistance.

“When I was here in 1993, life was good.,” he says, “there was plenty of work, rents were low, I didn’t know it would be such a struggle.” He says he’s a writer now working as a day laborer. He reported to work at 4:00 a.m. that morning, then turned out for the four hour budgeting class that ran until 9:00 p.m. It’s a long day for sure, but things were kept lively with pizza, give-a-ways and lots of fellowship.

crockpot giveaway

Cooking appliances that can help stretch food budgets were given away as door prizes and raffle items.

“This is the second one I’ve been to,” says Veronica Jordan, “it’s good. It’s a learning experience, you get to meet people, and they listen. I appreciate that they listen.”

The class went over things like the importance of making grocery lists and even menus before shopping, the value of using coupons, where to find them and which stores let you get the most mileage out of them. There were discussions about credit, and the hazards of pre-paid credit cards, rent-to-own stores and buy-here-pay-here operations. But what participants may have found most revealing was an online exercise in which they worked as a group to stay within a $1,000 a month budget. For the most part, the group made very sound budgeting decisions, even after being hit with unexpected circumstances like an illness or a pay cut. But ultimately, the group ended up being short for the month after being confronted with choices that involved emotional decisions, like whether to treat a child to new shoes or take a sick animal to the vet.

“This is where many of our families struggle,” says Emergency and Homelessness Services Division Director Sarai Cabrera. “Making the choice between basic needs and immediate gratification. For many individuals who come from generational poverty, any time it appears that some funds may be available, they want to overcompensate for lost moments. This is also very common among families who have had legal and substance abuse issues – they try to make up for the times that they may have failed as a parent or simply failed to be there for their children either financially or emotionally.”

Money management can be really vexing when there’s seemingly no money to manage, and ultimately the whole class fell victim to the same pitfalls they’re wrestling with in their real lives. But they all said the class was helpful and worthwhile. “Definitely,” says Ivory King, “I’m going to look into secured credit cards to help improve my credit score and I’m going to check my report with all three credit bureaus. Also, I learned what to do if I find a discrepancy. I didn’t know that before.”

Report: Kids Lose Ground in Poverty, Gain Ground in Education

July 28, 2014

DOANLkidslisteningtostoryWhen it comes to poverty rates, children in America are losing ground. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual Kids Count Data Book, nearly one in four children in 2012 were living in families below the poverty line. That’s the bad news. The good news is that preschool enrollment is up and children are becoming more proficient in reading and math. Locally, Heart of Florida United Way is working to make improvements in all of these areas.

We’ve distributed over $30 million dollars during the past five years to address hunger and homelessness in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. As the Kids Count Data Book clearly illustrates, it’s an intractable problem that we can’t resolve alone. By working with 20 partner agencies, including Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Salvation Army, we are working to help families with immediate crisis needs and with finding longer term stability.

The gains in education cited by the Kids Count Data Book are certainly encouraging. United Way directly funds 95 Orange/Osceola county children that 4C identifies as qualified for childcare financial assistance. 4C then leverages those dollars for greater impact by using them to draw down public funds, allowing an additional 1,500 children to attend pre-school. Additionally, Women’s Leadership Council is funding myOn for ten Title I Orange county schools. MyOn is an ereader program that assists children with their reading skills and tracks their progress. It also provides them free access to a significant online library.

As the Kids Count Data Book clearly shows us, there is still work to be done. But when it comes to child welfare, some inroads are being made.

8 Central Florida Individual and Volunteer Groups You Need To Know About

July 16, 2014

United Way’s Inaugural Community Volunteer Excellence Awards Produces 8 Winners

With the Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell serving as emcee, and the Sak Comedy Lab performers providing the entertainment, it was a great night for nominees and winners alike at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre. Enthusiastic supporters packed the house and responded with lots of applause and cheers for every name called out. United Way received 59 nominations for seven categories, but ended up with eight winners as one category was simply too close to call.

The winners are as follows:

Outstanding Corporate Group

Wells Fargo


John Pisan (center) accepts the award for Wells Fargo from Scott Maxwell (left) and John Moskos (Bank of America and United Way Board Chair)


Outstanding Faith/ Student/Civic Group

Crosspointe Church Winter Park Serve the City Outreach

Accepted by Brian Sullivan


Outstanding Professional Volunteer

Mary Carroll- Hope CommUnity Center

Mary Carroll shakes hands with award presenter John Moskos


Outstanding Youth Volunteer

Camilla Omar-Seminole County Public Library-East Branch


Camilla Omar and Heart of Florida United Way President Robert H. Brown

Outstanding National Service

Charles Pafites


78-year old RSVP volunteer Charles Pafites with Scott Maxwell and John Moskos


Our Outstanding Volunteer Manager

 Lynn Devanie- Hope CommUnity Center


Lynn Devanie walks to the stage to accept her award.

Above and Beyond (group)

 Disney Robotics


The Disney Robotics Group

Above & Beyond (individual)

Valerie Greene- Bcenter


Scott Maxwell escorts Valerie Greene to accept her award.


Here’s the thumbnail sketch of what made these groups and individuals winners.  Wells Fargo has made a significant financial and volunteer commitment to City Year Orlando, which is being credited for having a direct impact on student outcomes at Judson B. Walker Middle School. Crosspointe Church was honored for its phenomenal mentoring at the Beta Center. Mary Carroll is known as a fixture at Hope CommUnity Center and has performed nearly every job available there.  Camilla Omar‘s commitment to reading has helped to provide programs to hundreds of Seminole county kids. Last year alone, Charles Pafites performed 865 volunteer hours on the overnight shift at ORMC. Lynn Devanie doubled the number of Hope CommUnity Center volunteers to 500. Disney Robotics is mentoring and inspiring kids, particularly girls, to develop an interest in STEM careers. And stroke survivor Valerie Greene has spent 19 years volunteering as a stroke coach and advocate.



We’d also like to offer a special thanks to our judging panel:

Philip Harris

Florida Association for Volunteer

Resource Management

Dr. Gretchen Kerr

Northland Church

MaryAnn Russell

Council of Volunteer Management of Central Florida

Shelby Olson

Volunteer UCF

Marie Simmons

Publix SuperMarkets



Volunteer Profile: Sandy Hostetter, CNLBank President

July 15, 2014

Sandy HeadshotSandy Hostetter
President, CNLBank

Supporting the community through volunteer work is pretty much a core value for Sandy Hostetter. She says it’s something she’s believed in since she began her banking career.  But a story about a little boy and a simple cup of applesauce put a whole new light on the act of giving.

How long have you been involved with United Way?
I’ve spent 28 years with United Way. I started with Barnett Bank in 1982 and at that time I was not only contributing, but I also worked on the budget committee. We each had five or six not-for-profits that we were assigned to and we toured their facilities and then approved their business plan and budgets together.

How has United Way’s role in the community changed in those 28 years?
Certainly United Way has built tremendous capacity in that time and has increased its volunteers and its fundraising, but the biggest change has been their latest strategic move to change who they fund. Today, HFUW focuses on funding service providers who have a prevention component involved in their outreach. That is a huge systemic change. Moving people away from dependency is a change in the right direction in my mind, and a difficult one too. I’m really proud to be associated with United Way today.

What inspired you to get involved? Is there a particular story?
When I started my career with Barnett Bank, I was taught that all employees should give back to the communities in which we serve. I still stand by that. I feel so strongly about it that it’s one of our core values at CNLBank. I’ve held onto that throughout my entire career. I got involved with United Way because I believe that one person can make a difference.
When I was at Second Harvest Food Bank I heard this story of a little boy who was part of the Hi Five Kids’ Back Pack program, which sends children who are on the free lunch program home with some food over the weekend. Teachers were reporting that many of these children went all weekend without a meal. A teacher told me that when that little boy got his Kid’s Pack for the first time, he took out his applesauce and gave it to his teacher. The teacher told him, “No, this is for you,” but he insisted by saying, “This is the only time I’ve ever been able to give someone something and I want to give it to you.”
That taught me an important lesson. Innately, all of us want to be able to give back. At United Way, when we give to someone, we not only meet their need, but we teach them to give, too. It’s a gift to be able to give. Everyone wants that opportunity.

What does it mean to you to Live United?
Live with a servant’s heart. We all work together to help each other. I think fundamentally it means that all of us were put here to serve.

You’re very involved in the community. How do you see United Way’s role in the community?
United Way has always had accountability. On the budget committee, we took our jobs very seriously. You aren’t giving your money to something that will be out of business tomorrow. I really believe in both the nonprofits they support and the manner in which United Way provides that support. United Way has really strong leadership beginning with an engaged board that has high participation, and it’s supported by a strong staff. This gives us the ability to create positive change and we’re committed to doing the right thing.

What can the business community learn from philanthropy/nonprofit?
What’s so infectious about serving on a nonprofit board, is their passion, commitment and focus on who they serve. Sometimes it’s to a fault in terms of not always being bottom-line driven, but they’re so committed to serving the underserved. That kind of focus on service is something all for-profits could learn from. Sometimes we’re looking so hard at the bottom line that we take our eyes off the people we’re serving and that’s always a mistake.

At CNLBank, is there a particular area on which your corporate philanthropy focuses?
The big one now is education. When you talk about building capacity or individual independence, it all starts with education. Since 2011, CNLBank has focused on K-12 schools in low-income areas. Recently, I visited a purpose-built community in Atlanta, and was reminded that it all starts with education. I’m learning that the earlier we can deliver a high quality education, the better. Access to Pre-K and Kindergarten education, to just hearing words and expanding their vocabulary and reading skills, that speaks the loudest to me personally.

What do you say to your employees to inspire them to give, advocate or volunteer on behalf of United Way?
All of us at CNL Bank are fortunate to be employed and work in this community. At the end, our lives are all about serving others. It’s a gift to be able to give. All of us are able to give something, whether it is our time, talent or treasure. Give something. Give up a lunch once a month and start small. As human beings we all have the responsibility to give back to those who fall on hard times. We never know when we might fall on hard times and actually be on the receiving end. Part of being grateful, is to give it forward.

Have you seen an evolution in the way that Central Florida approaches social issues?
As a community, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken about the collaboration in our community. To me, it is Central Florida’s greatest attribute. We work very well together and I think part of the reason is that it’s a melting pot. People come from so many different places. We all remember what it’s like to be the new person. So there’s a natural inclination to reach out and help each other. United Way is a very big part of that. United Way is one of our strongest conveners.

We’re celebrating our 75th anniversary this year. What stands out as one of the biggest accomplishments?
I give United Way a lot of credit for staying pertinent and for leading the change they hope to see. A lot of nonprofits go in spurts, but to be this strong for so long, and to continue challenging all of us to give, but to give in a manner that restores self-worth and human dignity is powerful. Their decision to move away from a toxic charity model towards one of building self-sufficiency, took a lot of guts and strong leadership. All I can say, is here’s to another wonderful 75 years!


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