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A3 ship Program for financially disadvantaged schoolchildren. The program is funded with tax-credited donations and allows parents and schoolchildren to choose between a K-12 scholarship that helps with private school tuition and fees, or one that assists with transportation costs to out-of-county public schools. “Thanks to the support and generosity of our donors, Step Up For Students is helping parents find the best learning environment for their children that they otherwise couldn’t afford,” said Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students. “On behalf of our Step Up families, we thank Breakthru Beverage for its continued commitment and generosity.”

A grateful principal

Eric Pfeil, executive vice president of Breakthru Beverage Florida shakes the hand of Pentab Academy fourth-grader Taneisha Micelus, while Principal Barbara Sharpe looks on at the school in Miami. The girl was presenting Pfeil with thank-you notes from Step Up For Students scholars during an event celebrating Breakthru’s $45 million donation.

Company donates $45 million to Step Up For Students Beverage distributor providing scholarships for lower-income families around state FORT LAUDERDALE – Breakthru Beverage Florida, one of the largest distributors of wines,

spirits and non-alcoholic beverages in the state, announced today it is donating $45 million to the Step Up For Students Scholarship Program. The company’s donation will fund more than 6,880 K-12 scholarships for lower-income Florida schoolchildren for the current

school year. Since 2011, Breakthru Beverage Florida has contributed more than $254 million, providing more than 45,600 scholarships. “Communities thrive when we all do our part and work together. Breakthru Beverage is proud to support Step Up For Students

and give Florida students an opportunity to reach their highest potential,” said Eric Pfeil, executive vice president of Breakthru Beverage Florida. “We’re confident these students will aim high and will be future leaders in our community. We look forward to a long relationship with Step Up For Students.”

Assists K-12 students This is the seventh consecutive year Breakthru Beverage Florida has contributed to the nonprofit organization that administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholar-

The announcement was made recently at Pentab Academy in Miami, which serves prekindergarten through eighth-grade students. More than half of its 260 students use Step Up For Students scholarships. “At Pentab Academy, our goal is to educate the whole child – academically, emotionally and spiritually. Many of our families could not afford a private school education for their children without the help of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and Step Up For Students,” said Barbara Sharpe, Pentab Academy principal. “We are grateful to Breakthru Beverage Florida for being a leader and giving back to our community.” For the 2017-18 school year, Step Up For Students is serving more than 100,000 students throughout Florida with tuition scholarships valued at up to $6,343 per student for kindergarten through fifth grade, $6,631 for sixth through eighth grade, and $6,920 for ninth through 12th grade. More than 1,700 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide. For more information, visit




Brian Butler, Vistra Communications’ president and CEO, holds the scissors for the 2017 ribbon cutting at the company’s new location in Lutz as his family and employees look on. The company has 70 employees.

Black-owned public relations firm buys marketing company Vistra Communications, a Blackowned public relations and marketing agency in Hillsborough County, has acquired Marketing Associates USA, a Tampa-based marketing, promotional and branding agency that specializes in a broad range of services for major corporations and federal government agencies. The agreement between  Vistra  and Marketing Associates provides an immediate enhancement of creative, branding, traditional and experiential marketing services to the Vistra portfolio. “The combination of  Vistra  with Marketing Associates provides our clients an amazing suite of communications and marketing services uniquely designed to help them reach their goals,”  said Brian Butler, president and CEO of Vistra. “This acquisition is part of our long-term strategy of growing our large corporate client portfolio, while extending our government services.”

Enhances both businesses The acquisition of Marketing Associates enhances the ability for Vistra to leverage its SBA 8(a) Certified and ServiceDisabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) credentials with large corporations and federal government contracts.  “The Vistra Communications acquisition further enhances Marketing Associates’ portfolio of services, capabilities and offerings for its clients including na-

tional corporations and nonprofit organizations,” said Jeff Darrey, CEO and founder of Marketing Associates USA. “Our business values are closely aligned with those of Vistra, further supporting the new relationship.”

Jeff Darrey

Effective this month

Marketing Associates USA will leverage Vistra’s existing infrastructure to provide marketing strategies and capabilities to clients.  The integration of both companies became effective on Jan. 2, which was the 40th-year anniversary of the founding of Marketing Associates by Darrey. Marketing Associates USA has become Marketing Associates – A Division of Vistra. The entire Marketing Associates staff also became Vistra team members. Vistra’s headquarters is located at 18315 N. US Highway 41, Lutz. The company has 70 employees.

Charitable work Butler and Darrey were originally introduced to discuss their shared interest in Trinity Cafe, a not-for-profit restaurant that has unconditionally served more than 1.3 million meals to the homeless and those in need in an environment of

love, care, dignity and respect. Butler has been a strong supporter, encouraging Vistra team members to volunteer at Trinity Cafe. Darrey is the board chair of Trinity and founding director. Their mutual interest in service work and charitable passions led to extensive business discussions.

Top Tampa company Butler founded Vistra  in 2007 after a successful U.S. Army career. Vistra was honored as the 2016 Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year in the 21-50 employee category. He also was a  2016 finalist for Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year. The annual award distinguishes the exemplary leaders of business enterprises that have a tremendous impact on the Tampa community.

CEO’s experience Butler has more than 25 years of military and civilian experience. He also served as spokesperson for an Army Secretary and on the communications team for a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has also worked in the Washington, D.C. office of FleishmanHillard International Communications. He earned a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Hampton University, Master in Administration from Central Michigan University and a Master in National Security Strategy from the National War College, National Defense University. For more information about Vistra Communications, call 813-961-4700 or visit

One Church One Child of Florida is reaching out to families and individuals in communities across the state in efforts to help find permanent homes for children. More than 700 children are in need of a family to call their own; many of them are minorities. Churches also are asked to partner with One Church One Child in sharing information with congregations and extending Watch-Care Ministries to children. The Rev. Beverly Hills Lane, state president for One Church One Child of Florida and vice president President for National One Church One Child, is challenging fellow pastors to get involved and encouraging families to open their hearts and homes to children in foster care. This monthly series features children located in communities around the state; they have no family identified to adopt them.

Meet Ashanti, 15 Ashanti is one of the many children in Florida waiting for a permanent home. She has many obstacles to overcome every day. And every day, for all of her 15 years, she has tackled these obstacles with strength and tenacity – and a big smile. She loves interactive toys and being talked to, listening to music and watching television. Welcoming Ashanti into your family will be different than other 15-year old girls, but having this sweet soul in your life is an indescribable joy. She carries with her warmth and serenity, and she deserves the love and consistency of a forever family. Ashanti will do best in a nurturing, supportive home able to care for her medical needs. For more information about becoming an adoptive or foster parent, mentor, partner or volunteer, contact the following: for SunCoast Region, LaKay Fayson; Northeast Region, Shauntai Arrington, Southeast Region, Cora Perry; Northwest, Central and Southern, Paulette Glover at 888283-0886 or The website for One Church One Child of Florida is

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Florida Courier, January 26, 2018  

Florida Courier, January 26, 2018  

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