2024 Unsung Heroes Insert

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CELEBRATING OUR 2024 FLORIDA KEYS

UN S UNG HE ROE S


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UNSUNG HEROES 2024

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE FLORIDA KEYS

TONI APPELL MONROE COUNTY EDUCATION FOUNDATION The Foundation is dedicated to enhancing and improving educational experiences for Monroe County students. Toni is an outstanding Take Stock in Children mentor at Marathon Middle High School. A dedicated Take Stock mentor since 2017, she has patiently guided and supported several Take Stock students, helping them navigate high school and prepare for college. Thanks to Toni for giving her time to enhance and improve educational experiences for students in Marathon.

ASHLEY ARRABAL FLORIDA KEYS CHILDREN’S SHELTER The Children’s Shelter provides solutions for abused, abandoned, neglected, truant, runaway and ungovernable youth, and preventative programs throughout the Keys. Ashley has served on the Children’s Shelter board for four years. In 2023, Ashley heard that our youth needed new mattresses. She immediately created a fundraising event on Facebook and rallied her family, friends, and colleagues to meet this need. In less than 24 hours, she raised the money to purchase 19 new twin bed mattresses.

SUSAN ASHMORE CORAL ISLES CHURCH Coral Isles is a faith community that welcomes you no matter who you are or where you are on your journey. For over 15 years, Susan has been coordinating Winter Fest, one of the largest nonprofit fairs in the Upper Keys for crafters with

“The team at Lower Keys Medical Center is always pleased to support the Community Foundation’s Unsung Heroes event. It is very inspiring to be in a room with so many selfless and committed individuals, supporting the many not-for-profit organizations that we partner with to further our mission to help people get well and live healthier. These individuals and organizations provide food, shelter, financial assistance, and health and human services that are vital to our community”, said David Clay, CEO, Lower Keys Medical Center

herself beyond measure. As a teacher, as a mentor, and as a caring individual she has been there for others. Iris can be counted on to follow through no matter the task. Her financial abilities have aided her organization immensely.

Your smiling face could be on these pages next year. To learn about our local charities and find one or more that interest you, visit cffk.org/nonprofits

music and a giant yard sale. The proceeds have helped Coral Isles serve people in need and to keep our doors open to welcome anyone, no matter who they are or where they are on life’s journey.

BARBARA AVILA ZONTA CLUB OF KEY WEST Zonta improves the legal, political, economic, health, educational, and professional status of women. Barbara has been in the club for an impressive 36 years, actively and selflessly serving as attendance chair and as a board member. She has consistently promoted club member attendance, playing a vital role in maintaining our club’s cohesion and organization. Barbara embodies the spirit of volunteerism, service and advocacy for the women of the Florida Keys.

THERESA AXFORD FLORIDA KEYS COUNCIL OF THE ARTS The Council advances the creative development and promotion of the arts in the cultural community. School Superintendent Theresa Axford has championed the arts in Monroe County for decades. She ensures that every school in our district has music and arts programming, and that students and faculty

are supported for their creativity in every aspect of their education. Terri is a passionate advocate for Art Builds Community for all the Arts in All of the Keys.

CURTIS BARLOW HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF KEY WEST AND LOWER FLORIDA KEYS Habitat brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Curtis is a joy to work with and goes above and beyond in all that he does. He enjoys supervising Habitat’s volunteers and working alongside them as they improve and create affordable housing in our community. His willingness to help in any way shows his selfless commitment to our cause, embodying the true spirit of Habitat for Humanity.

DENNIS BEAVER AND BERT WHITT KEY WEST ART AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY The Society preserves culture at the Key West Museum of Art & History, Key West Lighthouse, Fort East Martello and the Tennessee Williams Museum. Dennis and Bert founded the Tennessee Williams Museum in 2011 and generously brought it under the Key West Art & Historical Society umbrella in 2017. They faithfully continue to ensure the ex-

emplary quality of museum operations and programming by leading tour groups, conducting donor outreach, and organizing the annual Tennessee Williams Key West Festival.

WILL BENSON LOWER KEYS GUIDES ASSOCIATION The Association preserves rights and access to the fishery and promotes a style of use that is both sustainable and part of the area’s cultural heritage. Will has been a servant leader of the Association for over 20 years, serving on the board for over a decade. He volunteers for all projects and events including marine debris cleanups, fishing tournaments, donor engagement, and proactive partnership building with like-minded organizations. His service is a legacy of conservation, preservation, and the true love of the Florida Keys fishery.

IRIS BERNREUTER STAR OF THE SEA CATHOLIC DAUGHTERS #634 The Catholic Daughters work together to spread the joy and love of Christ through our service to our parish and Key West community. Iris’ devotion to others goes well beyond the organization. She cares for those in need and gives of

JANE BIXBY REEF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FOUNDATION REEF protects biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community. Jane prepares food, stops by the office to assist with tasks, and consistently has a smiling face that brings joy to our space. Her willingness to go the extra mile, coupled with her infectious positivity, makes Jane an exemplary advocate for our cause, inspiring others to connect with our organization and amplifying the positive impact we have on the community.

STEPHANIE BRUNO SAMUEL’S HOUSE INC Samuel’s House supports women and intact families overcoming homelessness. Stephanie is described by her colleagues as the glue that holds their team together. She wears all hats (including hard hats), and balances multiple projects from the office to our project sites. She and her team member, Corinne, went out their way to surprise the returning Kathy’s Hope residents by purchasing new shower curtains, soap dispensers, and towels.

TOM AND KATHY BUCKARD THE STUDIOS OF KEY WEST The Studios is a multidisciplinary presenter, arts

center, and artist residency provider. For over a decade, Tom and Kathy have exemplified unwavering commitment. Tom skillfully manages intricate tasks like theater construction, wiring, plumbing, and repairs, while Kathy nurtures the roof terrace plants. Together they’ve painted countless walls, hung posters all over town, and one year put in 200 hours each making sea creature decorations for a blowout party.

ERIN BUCKLEY FORGOTTEN FELINES OF THE FLORIDA KEYS Forgotten Felines provides a secure and loving sanctuary for cats in need. Erin has been the founder’s right-hand person throughout the journey of Forgotten Felines. She never hesitates to pick up and help when needed, delivering food to cat colonies, assisting with trapping cats, and presenting at public events. The rescue helps free hundreds of cats from suffering and neglect each year and Erin is a hero to all of them.

BILL BURKE FLORIDA KEYS WILD BIRD REHABILITATION CENTER The center is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of native and migratory wild birds that have been harmed or displaced. Bill volunteers at least two days per week with a calm, friendly, and gentle demeanor. He is not afraid to do the dirty work, whether cleaning floors, spraying bird poop off dirty laundry, or making sure our bathrooms are clean. Bill does it all with a smile on his face and always says “yes” (in a sweet, southern Georgia accent).


UNSUNG HEROES 2024

TYRESA BUTLER DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AND SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE The Committee’s purpose is to raise awareness of human rights issues by supporting organizations that best exemplify the ideals of Dr. King. Tyresa served as vice president for the last three years, a dedicated board member who commits to making sure that every fundraiser is the very best. She has been responsible for composing, editing, printing booklets and programs. Tyresa makes phone calls, follows up, sets up, and cleans up. She has a comforting shoulder and a listening ear when needed.

MICHELLE CHENNAULT RED BARN THEATRE The Red Barn is a cultural cornerstone for the Key West community, building a national reputation for creating big things in a small space. As a brand new board member, Michelle happily jumped in to organize our opening night parties, demonstrating her brilliant catering skills with each event. She almost singlehandedly put together our beautiful fundraiser last year and has committed to do it again in 2024. Michelle’s good nature and dedication make her the perfect board member.

LISA COAKLEY HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF THE UPPER KEYS Habitat brings people together to build homes, communities and hope in Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada. Lisa has been a dedicated volunteer for seven years. She joined the Board of

Directors in 2016, and with a full-time career in corporate and private event planning, has contributed countless hours towards Habitat Upper Keys’ largest annual cocktail party fundraiser since 2019. Lisa also actively participates on the fundraising and family selection committees.

JEFFREY COLDREN COMMUNITY HEALTH OF SOUTH FLORIDA CHI provides affordable quality primary and behavioral health care services to the residents of rapidly growing South Florida. Jeffrey has served on the board since April 2012 and as board chair for the past two years. He has dedicated significant time and expertise to the growth and expansion of CHI countywide. He is currently providing financial and construction oversight for a new health center under construction in Key Largo.

JOAN COX KEY WEST ART CENTER The Center promotes, supports and showcases the work of local visual artists. A dedicated member of the board for several years, Joan demonstrates an ongoing and enthusiastic commitment to a variety of projects. Presently, she oversees the array of courses available to both our members and the public. Joan’s proactive approach extends to enhancing the presentation of our art collection and exploring innovative avenues for art sales.

MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM LEADERSHIP MONROE COUNTY Leadership Monroe develops strong, dedicated leaders and builds relationships

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE FLORIDA KEYS to making our community space an even more enriching and enjoyable environment for all.

for constructive alliances. Michael has served as a volunteer leader of Leadership’s annual session on health care for over 20 years. A graduate of Class X, Michael has championed community health care and education throughout the county, to provide access for those in need, and indisputably enhanced the lives of thousands of residents of all ages.

BILLY DAVIS GUIDANCE/CARE CENTER Guidance Care provides behavioral health services to adults, children and families. Billy has been a volunteer on the community action council for several years, spreading the word about the availability of mobile crisis response to prevent suicide. His outreach has connected the organization with multiple partners who increase access to and funding for suicide prevention. Thanks to Billy’s advocacy, lives are saved every day!

TOM DOMIANO SAVE OUR PINES Save Our Pines preserves and maintains the Australian Pine canopy at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park in Key West. Tom always goes above and beyond in protecting and maintaining our dear Australian pines as well as the co-existing native plantings and any beach concerns. Without fail he has been available for consultation and sound advice as the organization monitors the age and health of this unique pine canopy – our native beach umbrella.

ROCHELLE EANNARINO KEY WEST ORCHID SOCIETY The Orchid Society enhances the knowledge of the orchid culture in the unique environment of the Florida Keys. Rochelle has served on the board of directors for years. She is a huge asset as you can find her at meetings helping others learn and identify plants and problems. Rochelle has lectured at our meetings multiple times on a variety of topics, ranging from repotting orchids to solving pest issues.

JILL EDSON KEY WEST COMMUNITY SAILING CENTER The Center encourages and supports sailing and sailing education, and provides facilities for educational, recreational and social use for the public. Jill has been a member of the center for over 12 years. She and her husband George organized many public open houses to recruit new members. A tireless contributor, she maintained the membership records and personally welcomed every new member. She was the go-to person when a member had any questions about the center.

MIKE EHLERS JUST OLDER YOUTH Just Older Youth is dedicated to creating a community center that expands and improves the life experiences of adults in the Upper Keys. Mike generously shares his ukulele teaching expertise, contributing to the enhancement of the Center. His unwavering availability and willingness to assist with any requests demonstrate his commitment.

DEAN AND LINDA ENGLUND MOTE MARINE LABORATORY Mote Marine is a facility dedicated to marine research and education. Dean and Linda, vital to Mote’s newly launched volunteer program, dedicated the past year to nurturing coral fragments and assisting in the propagation process at the coral nursery in Key Largo. They also participated in outreach programs and events, imparting their knowledge and passion for coral restoration. This resulted in a substantial increase in community awareness and volunteer participation.

NANCY EPPES FIRST BAPTIST ISLAMORADA Nancy volunteers with the Community Ministry more than almost anyone else. She is a team player always looking for ways to add value and help our guests. From her commitment to showcasing the food pantry, to her personal service as our meat delivery person, Nancy’s kindness and care enhance every client’s experience.

SUZANNE FAGAN KEYS TO BE THE CHANGE Keys to Be the Change provides programs, education and awareness for children, youth, and adults to improve health, wellness, and skills. For seven years, Suzanne has passionately as-

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sisted reluctant readers in elementary schools. Recently, a heartwarming reunion occurred when one of her former third-grade readers, now at Key West High School, reconnected with her as a guiding post. Suzanne’s genuine care for our youth shines through in her enduring commitment to their growth and success.

JOANNA FENNEY SPECIAL OLYMPICS FLORIDA Special Olympics provides year-round sports training and competition to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jo Mary has dedicated the last decade to coaching and volunteering, emerging as a genuine mentor to athlete leaders. She readily extends a helping hand to fellow coaches and willingly serves as a chaperone, never uttering a “no.” Notably, every Sunday morning, she commutes from Islamorada to Key West, showcasing unwavering commitment by practicing with cycling athletes.

LISA FITZGERALD SISTER SEASON FUND The Fund supports hospitality and tourism-related industry employees living in Key West, who through no fault of their own, have become temporarily out of work, may it be due to illness, accident, or a natural disaster. Lisa, a 30-year resident of Key West, once benefited from the organization’s fund during a challenging time. Motivated by gratitude, she transformed from a beneficiary into one of the organization’s superstar volunteers, seamlessly integrating into the family of dedicated contributors. Lisa’s journey reflects a profound commitment to ensuring others can also avail themselves of the support she once received.


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UNSUNG HEROES 2024

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE FLORIDA KEYS

ALEX FLORES KIDS COME FIRST Kids Come First ensures youth experiencing financial adversity have school supplies and basic necessities. Alex, a dedicated board member for five years and board president for two, injects fresh ideas into the organization. He revamped the website, attracting new members and sponsors, gave the logo a facelift, and consistently volunteers at fundraisers. Beyond his contributions, Alex is a delightful and caring individual, making a positive impact on our community.

JULIE FRANCIS MARATHON YACHT CLUB EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION The Foundation produces civically minded future leaders who are environmentally conscious and interested in marine conservation. Julie is the driving force behind the annual baby shower which raises money, diapers, car seats and playpens for the Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition. At year-end, she plays an instrumental role in our annual giving tree campaign, which benefits Keys Area Interdenominational Resources. Julie is a true hero for the community at large.

KAREN FRANK AND JERRY HUGHES A.H. OF MONROE COUNTY AH Monroe provides medical case management, nutritional options, counseling, affordable housing and other supportive services. The annual SMART Ride, a Florida fundraiser for HIV/AIDS nonprofits that retired in 2023, was always successful thanks to its Key

West Mile Markers volunteers. Both Karen and Jerry served as tireless and enthusiastic leaders for nearly two decades, Karen joining as a rider in 2006 and Jerry as part of the essential road crew the next year.

JENNI FRANKE KEY WEST LITERARY SEMINAR The Seminar promotes the understanding and discussion of important literary works and their authors; to recognize and support new voices in American literature. Jenni has been volunteering for many years in many capacities. Notably, every year she takes time off from her regular job to manage, staff and oversee retail merchandise sales during our annual event. Under her guidance, all aspects of the retail operation are handled with efficiency and skill, creating an exceptional experience for seminar attendees from around the world.

ART GAUTHIER CRANE POINT MUSEUM & NATURE CENTER The Center promotes environmental stewardship and the heritage of the Florida Keys. Art, a tour driver for seven years, weaves captivating tales of days gone by. With a multitude of skills, he dedicates them to positive endeavors. His unwavering willingness to say “yes” to any task, coupled with his kindness and eagerness to help, significantly impacts our community, making him a valuable asset who truly makes a difference.

PAMELA GAUTHIER EDUCATIONAL COALITION FOR MONROE COUNTY

The Coalition supports students facing unusual circumstances, to teach the importance of volunteerism, and to teach teens skills that will be needed to be successful adults. Pam volunteers for Marathon High School’s success center and also with its clothing exchange, helping organize gently used and new clothing so that students can find what they need. She helped start and maintain the weekend food bag program. Pam is an asset to everyone on campus including the administration, staff, and students.

TODD GERMAN COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE FLORIDA KEYS The Community Foundation connects people, resources, and needs through philanthropy. An active board member from 2009-2015, Todd has since been a powerful ambassador, inspiring Keys residents to become philanthropists. In 2023, he led a talk on estate planning that was so well-received that there was a waiting list. Todd’s contributions to the Community Foundation have in turn benefited the hundreds of nonprofits that it serves.

CARRIE GROOMES FREDERICK DOUGLASS SCHOOL BLACK EDUCATORS MEMORIAL PROJECT, INC. The project works to preserve local heritage and advocates for the creation of a museum and cultural center. Carrie has been an invaluable member of our team for numerous years. Possessing a genuine and willing spirit, she consistently offers her assistance wherever and whenever needed. We express deep gratitude for Carrie’s unwavering dedication, particularly in preserving the rich history of Key West, ensuring its legacy endures through her commendable efforts.

SHIRLEY GUN FLORIDA KEYS WILDLIFE SOCIETY The Society supports the four National Wildlife Refuges of the Florida Keys through education, non-adversarial advocacy, volunteerism and fundraising. Shirley has worked tirelessly for our mission for more than a decade, first as a member and then joining the board. She was instrumental in conceiving and then organizing our annual native plant give-away. Shirley organizes a monthly lecture series to highlight local science experts and has procured grants to cover the costs associated with the lecture series.

JAMES HAGER ROTARY CLUB OF KEY LARGO SUNSET FOUNDATION Rotary provides service to others, promotes integrity, and advances world understanding, goodwill, and peace through our fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders. James exemplifies service above self, actively engaging in monthly projects for rehabilitation center residents, joining community clean-ups, and participating in club fundraisers. His impact is profound as he not only identifies needs but also actively participates in their resolution, such as his recent involvement in constructing a ramp for a community member’s home.

KELLY HALL SUGARLOAF SCHOOL PARENT TEACHER ORGANIZATION The PTO promotes and encourages communication between parents, teach-

ers, administration and the community. Kelly was asked to assume the tough job of PTO president when the former president moved out of town in 2020. She has brilliantly managed events including trunk or treat, the craft fair and holiday shop to make a difference for students and teachers. Kelly is always available to help. She is a selfless, hardworking, and humble leader.

MICHAEL HALPERN WESLEY HOUSE FAMILY SERVICES Wesley House promotes and enhances the safety, well-being and development of children. Michael played a pivotal role in the triumph of the 2023 black-tie benefit, dedicating numerous hours to secure the backing of community partners and passionately communicate the mission of Wesley House. His tireless efforts not only contributed to the event’s success but also strengthened the organization’s community ties and outreach initiatives.

BARB HANN STAR OF THE SEA FOUNDATION SOS provides goods and services to the indigent and underprivileged residents of the Florida Keys. Facing adversity when our St. Justin’s coordinator couldn’t continue, Barb stepped in seamlessly. Her unmatched commitment amplifies the organization’s impact in the Upper Keys. Barb not only dedicates herself to food pantry expansion but also excels in managing every aspect of the Key Largo pantry, showcasing dedication akin to a paid staff member.

DOUG HANSEN OLD ISLAND RESTORATION FOUNDATION The Foundation preserves and maintains the Oldest House, provides programming and cultural events, and funds historical restoration projects. Doug, a stalwart docent at the Oldest House Museum, dedicates around 160 hours weekly, immersing visitors not only in museum history but the island’s narrative. Beyond guiding, he willingly tackles heavy lifting, hauling historical records and setting up displays. Doug opens his personal home for tours, showcasing his unwavering commitment to preserving and sharing local history.

JOAN HIGGS METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH COOKING WITH LOVE The congregation’s Cooking with Love program delivers hot meals to the homebound and elderly. Joan has been the inspiration for Cooking With Love since its inception nearly three decades ago. Every Saturday, she spearheads the preparation of over 200 fresh meals for elderly and disabled Key West residents. Joan recruits volunteers of all ages to cook, pack, and deliver meals. Her extensive connections ensure robust sponsorship, sustaining the program’s vital impact.

JOAN HILT MONROE ASSOC FOR REMARCABLE CITIZENS MARC provides intellectually disabled teens and adults with housing and lifelong learning. Joan faithfully volunteers two hours a day, three days


UNSUNG HEROES 2024 a week, teaching clients how to make jewelry which is sold to the public at MARC’s store in Tavernier. The clients are extremely proud of their creations, which are personalized with their names. The program’s success has soared during Joan’s 10 years of volunteer service.

RICKY JACKSON THE KEY WEST POLICE ATHLETIC LEAGUE The League provides local youth with focus and direction in order to help them become responsible citizens within our community. Ricky “Action” Jackson, the driving force behind Key West PAL’s youth boxing programs since day one, epitomizes selfless dedication. Over the past 25 years, his thousands of donated hours have fueled the spirit of true volunteerism, leaving an indelible mark on countless young lives and making him the heartbeat of this transformative community initiative.

ALISON JENKINS NAVY LEAGUE OF THE UNITED STATES KEY WEST COUNCIL The Council enhances the morale of sea service personnel and their families, advocates and educates the public, and provides youth programs. At the helm of the USS Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee commissioning committee, Alison orchestrated the seamless ordering, distribution, and precision of over 500 ship’s plaques, 500 plank owner certificates, and 1000 ship’s coins. Serving as Navy League secretary, she exhibited finesse in crafting correspondence, agendas, minutes, and official communications. Alison also organized ship turnover ceremonies and numerous Navy League events.

CHUCK JONES JOSE WEJEBE SPANISH FLY MEMORIAL FOUNDATION The Foundation honors Jose’s legacy by matching his passion for conservation, education, and making fishing dreams come true. For more than a decade, Chuck has exemplified generosity by dedicating his time and talent to assist captains during our youth fishing charters. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, he rolled up his sleeves for clean-up efforts. Chuck’s commitment extends to meticulous preparations for our fundraising events, where he invests countless hours, including creating special auction items.

MIKE KINDINGER KEYS CHORAL ARTS Keys Choral Arts educates its members in the art of choral singing and showcases this art in communitybased performances. Mike ensures the choir’s seamless performances. His behind-the-scenes work with lighting, microphones, and technical equipment makes the choristers’ harmonies resound. He toils quietly, meticulously preparing for each performance, projecting beauty to the audience and capturing it on film for distant loved ones. Mike’s dedication preserves the choir’s achievements, contributing to a lasting historic record.

SHIRLEY KNOWLES BROWN AMERICAN LEGION AUXILIARY UNIT 168, INC. The Auxiliary supports the American Legion and honors the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad.

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE FLORIDA KEYS Shirley has been a reliable and meticulous treasurer for the past eight years. On top of that, she is the person always working behind the scenes to help ensure the success of the organization’s fundraisers and community events. It’s never a surprise to learn that Shirley is the first to show up and last to leave nearly every event.

CONNIE LAVERTY THE BASILICA SCHOOL OF SAINT MARY STAR OF THE SEA The School nurtures spiritual growth, advances academic excellence, expands creative potential, builds a diverse and inclusive community, and prepares leaders. An exemplary mentor, Connie radiates selflessness and dependability. Daily, she dedicates herself to guiding students on their academic paths, providing remedial help and extending support to the gifted. She embodies kindness, brilliance, and humility, going above and beyond for her students’ well-being. Connie’s caring commitment makes her a community pillar, rightfully described as the “salt of the earth.”

KATEY LESNESKI I.CARE CORPORATION I Care incorporates local businesses, residents and visitors in the restoration and maintenance of our coral reef communities in Islamorada. Outside her role at Mission Iconic Reefs, Katey dedicates her free time to transplanting and maintaining corals. Additionally, she aids interns in refining job application materials, imparting essential skills for success in marine conservation. Katey’s mentorship has played a pivotal role in shaping the organization’s future, influencing the careers of young professionals, and contributing to advancements in coral restoration.

Dr. Mahoney has trained over 350 doctors, channeling their energy and enthusiasm to deliver highquality healthcare to the residents of the Keys. TERRANCE LOPEZ KEY WEST YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUE, INC The League promotes local youth athletics including football, cheerleading and dance opportunities. For the past five years, Terrance has been a motivational president, ensuring over 300 youth access to football and cheerleading. Beyond running weekly board meetings, he dedicates at least seven hours every Saturday to the football field. Terrance isn’t just a leader; he’s a mentor, friend, and influential figure, positively shaping the lives of our local youth.

KEVIN MACAULAY PRESENTS IN PARADISE Presents in Paradise provides clothing, shoes, bicycles, and educational toys to Keys families in need. Kevin assumed the role of president when Sarah Bartus faced emergency surgery last fall. His commitment shone brightly as he orchestrated a heartfelt initiative, providing holiday gifts, clothing, shoes, and bedding to over 700 youth in 2023. Leading a dedicated team of volunteers, he ensured every child’s holiday wishes were fulfilled, from hauling boxes to organizing fundraisers.

JOANNE MAHONEY KEYS AHEC HEALTH CENTERS Keys AHEC provides community health and education throughout the county. For three decades, Dr. Mahoney has been a role model for third-year medical students. Over 4-8 weeks, students immerse themselves in her mentorship, gaining firsthand insights into the life of a community-based doctor.

CATHY MATIER KEY WEST BOTANICAL GARDEN SOCIETY The Society preserves, develops, expands and maintains the historic Key West Botanical Garden. A jack-of-all-trades, Cathy has volunteered her time and expertise for 17 years. She does it all in the garden: trimming, weeding, propagating, repotting, collecting germplasm, and removing invasive plants. Need batteries changed? Electronics diagnosed and fixed? Irrigation pipes and heads repaired? – call Cathy. When special events need a bartender – count on Cathy.

DR. ROBERT MAYKUT LITERACY VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA Literacy Volunteers help students obtain personal goals through increased literacy skills, offering 1-1 and small group literacy training. Bob is a dedicated tutor and eloquent advocate. He helps students at hotels learn better workplace English, paints lines on Duval for the street fair, dons a chef hat at the annual fundraiser, and helps put the organization’s best foot forward on the radio and in the community. Best of all, his students always have smiles on their faces.

ELMER McDOWELL USCGC INGHAM MEMORIAL MUSEUM The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ingham is a National Historic Landmark and Memorial to Guardians killed

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in action in World War II and Vietnam. Elmer consistently goes above and beyond, willingly stepping into any needed role with enthusiasm. His dedication shines through, volunteering whenever assistance is required. Elmer is exceptionally welcoming and helpful to the visitors he encounters, making a lasting impact with his warm hospitality and invaluable assistance.

KEITH McELWAIN PLANT A MILLION CORALS FOUNDATION The Foundation implements new coral and reef restoration technologies to stabilize and reverse the losses of reefs globally. Keith has been instrumental in working with staff to expand the Summerland facility, increase its solar power capacity, and care for the property. Without his help, the latest expansion of tanks and coral capacity would not have been possible. From assisting with building supports for solar panels to clearing debris to enable internet access, Keith’s enthusiasm has been infectious.

MINDY McKENZIE UNITED WAY OF COLLIER AND THE KEYS United Way improves lives and strengthens communities so all individuals and families have an opportunity to thrive and achieve their full potential. Operating diligently behind the scenes, Mindy has been a steadfast board member for over a decade. She played a pivotal role in leading United Way’s community investment process, channeling funds to local organizations committed to enhancing the well-being of residents in health, education, and financial stability. Mindy’s enduring dedication to the community is an inspiration.


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UNSUNG HEROES 2024

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE FLORIDA KEYS

PHYLLIS MICHAELIS KEYS AREA INTERDENOMINATIONAL RESOURCES KAIR provides food pantry and crisis services for those in need in the Middle Keys. Phyllis has worked tirelessly for many years and has been an integral and important part of food pantry and case management operations. She does whatever it takes to help local residents, working in the food pantry five days a week. She helps interview clients and assists them with budgeting. Phyllis also serves as both board secretary and treasurer.

JOYCE MILELLI SOUTHERNMOST HOCKEY CLUB The club offers a youth inline hockey league for boys and girls, ages 4-18, and is run by volunteer board members, coaches, and assistant coaches. Club president since 2020, Joyce’s Saturdays from January to May are all spent at the rink, ensuring that the games run safely and smoothly. She helped spearhead the club’s gear loan program that brought in lots of new players. Her latest focus is helping the club celebrate its 30th Anniversary serving the youth of our community!

JENNA MOELLER WOMANKIND Womankind is a medical and wellness center providing family planning and health care to people of all income levels. Captain Moeller ensures the safety of Monroe County streets while passionately championing healthcare for all. Each summer, she coordinates impactful outreach and fundraising, targeting the local

fishing community. Hosting the annual “That’s What She Shot” spearfishing tournament, she secures vital funding for those in need of care, embodying a commitment to both safety and community health.

ERIN MUIR FLORIDA KEYS HISTORY AND DISCOVERY CENTER The Foundation supports a world-class history and discovery center that accurately reflects the Florida Keys in a multi-faceted and interactive environment. Erin’s commitment to volunteering shines in her roles as exhibits chair, development committee member, grant writer, and financial assistant. A sixthgeneration Conch, she first joined the board in 2016, playing a key role in establishing the Flagler’s Folly Society for young professionals. Erin’s extraordinary passion and contributions have propelled the organization forward, ensuring its enduring success and growth.

NICOLE NAVARRO PAWSITIVE BEGINNINGS Pawsitive Beginnings provides a safe and happy home to foxes that have been saved from fur farms. Nicole embodies service as the volunteer executive director, working tirelessly and hands-on 24 hours a day with rescued foxes. Notably, she also prioritizes extending her impact beyond her local sanctuary. Actively engaging the community, she fosters education and awareness. Nicole is a pillar of strength and hope, evoking pride and admiration for her unwavering commitment and dedication.

WAYNE NOWOCIEN THE FLORIDA KEYS EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION The Foundation advances the mission of College of the Florida Keys by raising funds that support the college’s students, faculty, staff and programs. While a College of the Florida Keys student, Wayne built a boat in the marine propulsion lab, which he now uses to provide safety and support for participants in the CFK Swim Around Key West event. The 23-year United States Coast Guard veteran works tirelessly to assist with fundraising, including 5K runs, triathlons, 100-mile runs, and open water races.

DANIELLE OCCHIUTO THE KEY WEST ROTARY FOUNDATION The Foundation helps enhance the quality of life for our community through sponsored projects and by providing scholarships for Key West High School graduates. Danielle epitomizes selfless dedication within Key West Rotary. Her contributions go above and beyond, driven by a genuine commitment to serve without seeking recognition or praise. A tremendous asset to the organization, Danielle’s unwavering dedication and humility set a remarkable standard, making her an inspiring member of the Rotary family.

HAROLD PELOTE BAHAMA VILLAGE MUSIC PROGRAM The Program provides quality music education to children who would otherwise not have access to

private music instruction. Affectionately known as “Mr. Harold” by the children, Harold is invaluable to the music program’s success, with unwavering support at every event and genuine adoration from the children. A founding member of the Key West Junkanoos, he has seamlessly transitioned into the role of Jr. Junkanoos instructor. We extend heartfelt gratitude for sharing his family’s culture with the community.

GRETA PHILIPS-FORD ST PAUL’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH St. Paul’s draws all people to the spiritual, cultural, and recreational heart of the community. Greta has served St Paul’s for nearly her entire adult life, as a Sunday School teacher, on the altar, preparing for holiday events, to overseeing roof repairs as manager of buildings and grounds. After time on the vestry as junior warden, she now organizes volunteers and fundraisers, coordinates guest accommodations, and oversees all contractors. A true servant leader!

MIKE PUTO HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF THE MIDDLE KEYS Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys is a non-profit organization that helps people build and improve places to call home. Known as Mr. Marathon, Mike has been a dedicated and board member for the past seven years and now serves as board president. He has been instrumental in the building of Bell Haven, our largest development to date of our organization. As our build committee chair, he spends countless hours helping to procure donations of products and services.

HELEN REBANE MAY SANDS MONTESSORI SCHOOL May Sands offers a developmentally appropriate curriculum and provides service to the community, with a focus on peace education. For six years, even long after her daughter graduated, Helen has brought pizzazz to school fundraisers with her amazing sense of style and artistry. She’s up for anything that supports our school - calling bingo, donating her handmade glass jewelry for auction and raffle prizes, selling cookies, planning events and contacting businesses around town for donations.

PATTI RODRIGUEZ KEY WEST GARDEN CLUB The Club provides educational opportunities related to tropical gardening. A volunteer for over 20 years, the “Croton Queen” propagates and tends to over 100 crotons sold by the club each year. Also known as the “Muffin Lady,” Patti makes her famous muffins for garden celebrations. She is a friend to all, always willing to teach and assist others, and makes meals for any member in need.

DENISE ROHRER MUSIC WITH HEART Music With Heart raises funds and awareness of people in need in the Florida Keys, through topflight concerts, musical and arts events. Denise, an accounting luminary, infuses financial stewardship with heart. Her volunteer time as a certified public accountant, insightful contributions, and expert touch have been pivotal since the

organization’s inception. She elevates the transparency and effectiveness of our fundraising reporting. Denise’s dedication has helped raise significant funds to support Florida Keys youth, education, health and human services.

JULIE SCHILLING BIG PINE AND LOWER KEYS ROTARY FOUNDATION Rotary provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Julie is the heart and soul of our club, having worn both the president and secretary pins with passion. Her love for our community is felt in every event she organizes and every local cause she supports. Beyond the club, Julie pours her heart into various community organizations with unwavering dedication and a caring spirit.

JEANNE SELANDER RIVER’S WISH River’s Wish is a permanent sanctuary for senior chihuahuas with behavioral or chronic health issues. Jeanne is the heart and soul of our local Chihuahua sanctuary, as its volunteer executive director. With boundless compassion, she started the nonprofit to shine a spotlight on senior dogs, taking on animals who have been diagnosed with chronic medical and/ or behavioral conditions. Jeanne gives them their best last days, ensuring this time is filled with love, warmth, and joy.

FRAN SESSA FLORIDA KEYS SPCA The SPCA is dedicated to the protection of aban-


UNSUNG HEROES 2024 doned, unwanted and mistreated companion animals. Fran has volunteered every week for over two years, helping keep our cat areas clean and our cats socialized. She helps our staff tremendously by being reliable, helpful and extremely caring about the welfare of our animals. Fran also volunteers for our events, which is crucial to our fundraising success and to our mission of protecting pets in paradise.

GARY SHAPIRO MARATHON WILD BIRD CENTER The Bird Center rescues, rehabilitates, and releases wild birds annually and provide educational wildlife presentations. Gary effortlessly forms connections with the diverse inhabitants of the bird habitats he diligently tends to biweekly at Crane Point. He is a reliable, fast, and thorough worker who is always standing quietly nearby to lend a helping hand, whether it’s helping network at events, assist with a surgical procedure, or open a crate during a release.

CORRINE (CORKY) SHEARER KEYS CHAMBER ORCHESTRA The Orchestra provides a setting for musicians who live in the Florida Keys to learn, play, and perform music. Corky is the glue that holds the Keys Chamber Orchestra together, serving as both concertmaster and board president. She distributes music to the group, manages the web page, finds and onboards musicians, identifies performance venues, and coordinates joint concerts. She worked tirelessly over the past year to orchestrate not one, but two conductor searches.

RON SOKOL HISTORY OF DIVING MUSEUM The museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, displaying and interpreting artifacts, antiques, books, documents, photographs and oral history relative to the History of Diving. Ron has been an active volunteer for over 10 years, expanding his role as he transitioned to become a full-time resident. He always sees a project through from beginning to end. When not involved in working on an exhibit or display, he has been a gem diving in to help with everything from general maintenance to plumbing issues.

CAROLYN SULLIVAN UNITY OF THE KEYS SPIRITUAL CENTER Unity of the Keys is a spiritual community, celebrating our oneness with God. Carolyn has gifted the community with her unwavering enthusiasm for life, her generous heart, her creativity, and her desire to learn and grow. She gives of her time and talents freely and without desiring recognition. Carolyn’s “can do” and “I’ll do it!” approach to events, programs, tasks, and every challenge has enriched and enhanced the experience for all.

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE FLORIDA KEYS dent, vice president, treasurer and program planning chair. Her warm and sincere smile welcomes all, and she readily volunteers whenever a helping hand is required, making her an indispensable cornerstone of our community.

EDWARD WALTERS JR. SOUTHERNMOST POST 3911 VFW OF THE U.S. The VFW welcomes and honors veterans in Monroe County. Edward has held numerous officer and administrative positions for the Post and has been a pivotal figure in spearheading fundraising efforts. His selfless dedication of time and skills has enriched the lives of many, a testament to his unwavering commitment to support veterans and community causes. A proud Army veteran, Edward served in Vietnam in 1967-68.

SUSAN WALKER MARRVELOUS PET RESCUES MarrVelous provides counsel, care, medical treatment, and shelter for animals in need until permanent adoption is achieved. A valued board member, Susan was almost solely responsible for collecting silent auction items for our Spayghetti & No Balls Gala. Committing at least two days a week to the rescue office, she diligently

handles phones, clerical tasks, and post-adoption calls. As a Unicorn Committee participant, Susan contributes to decisions involving behaviorally challenged dogs, showcasing her unwavering dedication.

JOE WALSH FIRMKEYS FIRM ensures that property insurance rates in Monroe County are fair and affordable. Joe has served on the board for a decade, in the role of treasurer and currently vice president. He has testified at rate hearings, legislative committee meetings, hurricane catastrophe fund meetings and more. His willingness to champion the cause of fair and affordable insurance is invaluable to the residents of Monroe County.

DR. SHARON WARD FLORIDA KEYS HEALTHY START COALITION Healthy Start is Monroe County’s organization serving families before, during, and after pregnancy. Dr. Ward has been an active board member and treasurer for years. Whether spreading the word about our programs or collecting diapers for our families in need, she is always saying yes. This year Sharon went above and beyond lending her time and medical expertise to ensure pregnant women have access to prenatal care.

600+ nonprofit leaders through Leadership

Trained JOY BROWN TAYLOR ONE ISLAND FAMILY SOUTHERNMOST UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CONGREGATION One Island Family is a congregation of reasoning and spiritual individuals who welcome all. Joy is the life and laughter at the heart of our family and embodies the spirit of hard work and joyfulness. She has served as presi-

ALTON WEEKLEY ANNE MCKEE ARTISTS FUND OF THE FLORIDA KEYS For more than 30 years, the group’s annual fine art auction has raised money to make grants to individual artists from the Florida Keys. Alton, a steadfast supporter, transforms Fausto’s Food Palace into a dynamic marketing force, tirelessly promoting our annual auction. From adorning walls with posters to stuffing bags with flyers, he ensures the event reaches a wide audience. Alton’s unwavering dedication is further evident in his faithful attendance at every auction, making him an invaluable asset to our cause.

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MARSHA WILLIAMS FRIENDS OF THE KEY WEST LIBRARY The Friends support, improve and promote the Key West Library through fundraising, volunteering, and advocacy. Marsha’s calm and cheerful demeanor as a leader is unparalleled. She served on the board for seven years, including two as vice president and three as president. Helping transition the organization into the “twenty-twenties,” Marsha was instrumental in moving its data safely to the cloud and converting years of membership data to an online system.

ROXANNE WOOD AND BRAD KURPJWEIT TROPIC CINEMA The Tropic delivers the best of cinema on the island, along with concerts, lectures, and unforgettable parties for kids and adults. Roxanne and Brad embody tireless dedication, orchestrating outdoor screenings, guiding youth field trips, and managing morning rentals with humility and grace. Their selfless contributions behind the scenes have crafted extraordinary cinematic experiences for Key West audiences, a testament to their passion for enriching the community without seeking recognition or reward.

VINCENT ZITO KEY WEST IMPROMPTU CLASSICAL CONCERTS Impromptu brings the finest classical musicians to the Keys and produces concerts of outstanding quality at the most affordable prices possible. Vincent, a dedicated board member for over a decade, has skillfully chaired the program selection committee since 2016. Humble in his achievements, he insists on team recognition for the award. Vincent emphasizes each member’s extensive behind-the-scenes contributions, collectively striving to deliver the finest classical chamber music experiences to Key West audiences every season.

$36 million

$3.5 million+

in community grants and program services since 1996

Nationally accredited

since 2006

200 charitable funds Manages over

7

in disaster relief funding

Recognized 1,600 volunteers through Unsung Heroes


8

UNSUNG HEROES 2024

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE FLORIDA KEYS

UNSUNG HEROES is sponsored by

PARTICIPATE IN THE LEGACY CHALLENGE

Convenient outpatient imaging with competitive pricing.

Get up to $10,000 now for your favorite charity!

Lower Keys Medical Center brings you outpatient imaging in a convenient location. When you need a screening mammogram* or bone density scan, ask your physician to send you to our Women’s Imaging Center. You’ll find quality care plus competitive self-pay pricing.**

To schedule an appointment, call 305-294-5531, ext 3308. Results are typically available within 24 to 48 hours.

cffk.org/legacychallenge Scan to go to the legacy challenge page directly

Jennifer McComb (Key West & the Lower Keys) 305.809.4991 / jen@cffk.org Elizabeth Brown (Middle & Upper Keys) 305.809.4995 / elizabeth@cffk.org

Women’s Imaging Center Key West Professional Building 1111 12th Street, Suite 414, Key West

* For American College of Radiology recommendations, visit www.acr.org. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis. An order from a physician or qualified healthcare provider is required. All mammogram reports will be sent to the physician/ provider, and the patient is responsible for follow-up. **Check with your insurance provider to confirm coverage for a screening mammogram. If you do not have insurance, options may be available to help with the cost. Certain restrictions apply.

LKMC.com DONATIONS TO THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF THE FLORIDA KEYS, A 501(C)(3) CHARITY, ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE AS ALLOWED BY LAW. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

KEYS

Check the Keys Weekly every Thursday to see which Unsung Hero is featured as our Volunteer of the Week.

300 SOUTHARD ST., SUITE 201 | KEY WEST FL 33040 | 305.292.1502 | CFFK.ORG Published by the Keys Weekly Newspapers 305.743.0844 | keysweekly.com

CONGRATULATIONS TO ORGANIZATIONS WHO ALREADY RECEIVED DONATION CHECKS! • Domestic Abuse Shelter • Gregory and Donna Daniels Scholarship Fund • Florida Keys Council of the Arts • Florida Keys History and Discovery Museum • Florida Keys SPCA • Friends of the Key Largo Library • Hemingway Society Look-Alike Fund • Keep Key West Weird Fund • Key West Art & Historical Society • Key West Botanical Garden Society • Key West Garden Club • Key West High School Band • Key West Literary Seminar • Key West Wildlife Center • Key West Woman’s Club • Last Stand • Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens • Monroe County Educational Foundation • Music With Heart • Presents in Paradise • St. Paul’s Episcopal • The Studios of Key West • Tropic Cinema • Unity of the Keys Spiritual Center • Upper Keys Business and Professional Women • Zonta Foundation of Key West


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