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Inside this issue: Client and Volunteer Stories


made Hearts of Gold a record-shattering success! See more red carpet photos inside.

M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 5

On Saturday, May 2, we held the most successful fundraising event in this organization’s history, and I could not be more proud of that achievement or more thankful for all those who made it possible. Events like the annual Hearts of Gold concert help make our mission of transforming lives a reality. While I’m all for taking a moment to celebrate, I know that Hearts of Gold is just one piece in a very large puzzle. $277,000 is a record-breaking number for us, but it takes so much more to continue providing programs and services to the 600 men, women, and children who count on us 365 days a year. That is where you come in. Your generosity helps provides our clients with the basic necessities. Though it’s not glamorous, it keeps the lights on. It pays the water bill. Frankly, it keeps our doors open. Which is why we want to take a moment to celebrate YOU and your connection to the Coalition. That’s what #whyigive is all about. Read more about it on Page 2. Please take a moment to send a gift, no matter how large or small, and fill out the blank space on the envelope, letting us know why you give. We’ll post responses on Facebook and Twitter, so make sure to keep an eye out for yours! As always, thank you for your support. Maybe it’s the Coalition’s children that touch your heart. Perhaps it’s the issue of veteran homelessness. No matter the reason, I can’t wait to read why you give.




Brent A. Trotter President/CEO

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chairman Elena H. Norman Hilton Grand Vacations Vice Chair Samuel C. “Trip” Stephens III ZOM, Inc. Secretary Douglas M. Spencer Spencer Consulting Services Treasurer John E. Hearn Orlando Utilities Commission President/CEO Brent A. Trotter Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, Inc. Marc Angle, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management Timothy R. Baker, AIA, Baker Barrios Architects, Inc. Brooke R. Bonnett, City of Orlando Christopher C. Brockman, Holland & Knight LLP Bakari F. Burns, Health Care Center for the Homeless, Inc. Fara K. Dantzler, Wells Fargo Bank N.A. Eric David, Expedia Local Expert Miranda F. “Randi” Fitzgerald, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A. Jim Fritz, Orlando Magic

Eric D. Gassman, Orange County Government David Jasmund, PCE Investment Bankers, Inc. Christine S. Kefauver, HDR, Inc. Fred R. Kittinger, Jr., University of Central Florida Ronald R. Lamb, SunTrust Bank Meagan Martin, Baker & Hostetler LLP Sean A. McLaughlin, CNL Financial Group / JDS Holdings, LLC Michael Miller, Miller Air Group Lee Nimkoff, Brio Properties T. Todd Pittenger, Akerman LLP Stacey A. Prince-Troutman, Broad and Cassel John Rivers, 4R Restaurant Group Ty G. Roofner, Burr & Forman LLP Randy E. Schimmelpfennig, Law Offices of Dan Newlin & Partners Rick Schooler, Orlando Health Scott R. Stahley, Lincoln Property Company of Florida, Inc. Barbara Larson Stuart, The Stuart Group Jane Tebbe-Shemelya, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Richard G. Wack, Mediation Services of Central Florida, Inc. Bill L. Warren, Reedy Creek Improvement District Michael Weinberg, HFF, L.P. Mindy Willis, Orlando Utilities Commission Mark Woodbury, Universal Parks & Resorts Erin Trabel Youngs, Walt Disney World Resort Aaron Zandy, Ford & Harrison LLP

In His Own Words

Jesus Rivera When Jesus Rivera came to the new Men’s Service Center (MSC) last summer, he was a broken man. Years of fighting the demons of addiction had finally caught up to him, and he was desperate for help. He was on the verge of being evicted from his apartment. His wife had filed for divorce. He had nowhere else to go. Today, through the First Steps Recovery Program, Jesus is a changed man, and his outlook has never been more positive. He recently shared how grateful he is for the support he received — the support that your generosity makes possible. It’s only in the pit of desperation, when battling addiction, that you look to your last hope. What do you do at this point? Where do you go? I knew if I didn’t get into this facility, I would die, literally. Society’s view of homelessness is that people are just lazy. They don’t want to do anything, and shelters are where they choose to go. I really had no other option but to go into a shelter, and I thank God for that opportunity. The Coalition provided me with the stepping stone to get to where I needed to go. You get angry at yourself. You think, ‘Wow. I could’ve done better. I should’ve done it this way.’ After talking to my counselor in his office, I looked up to the sky and said, ‘My God, what do I do?’ At that point, I surrendered. I knew that I’d had enough of the drugs I thought would mask my feelings. The irony in all this is that I used to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings at the Coalition. I would pass the old

pavilion, see the guys lying on the mats, and I would say, ‘That would never be me.’ It’s very humbling to accept such a situation. I just never thought I’d end up in a shelter. And it makes me cry because it didn’t have to be that way. In my eight months here, I learned so much. It was a place to call home and a place for regrouping, rethinking. In retrospect, I have a sense of structure now that I never had in the past. Humility has played a major part in where I am today. A lot of acceptance, a lot of willingness. I lost it all completely: family, friends, and above all, I lost myself in the process. It was my job to get back on track and find what was lost. I came here broken in every aspect, spiritually, mentally, physically, psychologically. But I learned how to be selfsufficient, self-supporting. One of the requirements of the program was to put money in your savings, which I did. Whatever I had to do, I did. I realized my life was at stake. If I didn’t learn structure now, it was only going to get worse when I left. I only hope that I can be an inspiration. That is why I make myself visible here at times, to let other men know that it can be done. I tell them, ‘You can do it, too. I’m no different than you are. If you have the willingness to change, you can have anything you want in life.’ It’s my privilege to share my experience. There is a lot more that I could discuss, but I want to keep it simple by saying the Coalition was a godsend. I had nowhere else to go, and I didn’t know what to do. I really and sincerely thank God for the Coalition, because it gave me an avenue to change my perspective on life. It gave me an avenue to change the way I think and the way I see homelessness today. 1

No child should be hungry.

Children? Veterans? Hunger? Domestic violence? Substance abuse? Educational programs? Every supporter of the Coalition has something he or she is particularly passionate about. We want to know why you give.

everyone should have a safe place to stay.

no veteran should be homeless.

everyone deserves a second chance.

At Hearts of Gold, we asked attendees why they give, and these wonderful photos are the result. Now it’s your turn to tell us! In this issue, you’ll find a return envelope with a blank space for you to tell us why you give. Of course, we’d love for you to send in a gift, but that is not necessary to participate. You can also tweet @cfl_homeless with #whyigive, or post on Facebook with the hashtag. Tell us, tell your friends, tell everyone WHY YOU GIVE!


more than 200 kids call the coalition “home.”

a record-shattering

f o d l o g s t r a e H

The Coalition’s Hearts of Gold concert presented by Reed Nissan raised over $277,000 on Saturday, May 2, shattering all fundraising records in the event’s 22-year history. More than 650 of Central Florida’s top business and philanthropic leaders gathered at Hard Rock Live to eat, drink, and celebrate the healing power of music in support of the homeless men, women, and children in our community. The rock venue was transformed, courtesy of event sponsor Disney, into an elegant, sophisticated setting indicative of the entertainment to come. Matt Shenk, local singer-songwriter and friend of the Coalition, provided pre-concert entertainment as attendees noshed, chatted, and put their smartphones to work bidding on unique items and experiences in the silent auction. Fernando Varela, an immensely gifted tenor and finalist on America’s Got Talent, served as the evening’s host between belting out both classic and contemporary hits. Early in the evening, he announced that the fundraising goal of $220,000 had already been surpassed, and then challenged attendees to set a new bar – a quarter of a million dollars. 4

Backed by the Orlando Pops Orchestra, Varela was joined by many of his talented friends: fellow tenor and America’s Got Talent finalist Branden James, local powerhouse vocalist Sisaundra Lewis, pianist superstar William Joseph, and the booming baritone Craig Irvin. Each performer showcased their unique talents with everything from Varela’s spot-on rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to Irvin’s swoon-worthy performance of the classic opera song“Toreador.” Joseph rocked the house with Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” on piano; Lewis got everyone on their feet for Chaka Kahn’s “I’m Every Woman”; and James lent his smooth voice to Sammy Davis’ classic “What Kind of Fool Am I?” President/CEO Brent A. Trotter took the stage as the Orlando Pops played, promising not to sing but to thank those who made the event possible. Reed Nissan was at the top of the list, followed by Corporate Sponsors Bright House Networks, Walt Disney World, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Hilton Grand Vacations, PNC Bank, Starwood Vacation Ownership, SunTrust Foundation, Tupperware Brands, and TWS Marketing Group, along with 11 supporting sponsors, 15 community sponsors, media sponsor WFTV 9 Family Connection, the generous local businesses that donated to the silent auction, and the dedicated volunteers who donated their time. He was joined onstage by David Fuller, President of SunTrust Bank

thank you to our sponsors who made it all possible! Presenting Sponsor Reed Nissan Corporate Sponsors Bright House Networks Walt Disney World 4 Rivers Smokehouse Hilton Grand Vacations PNC Bank Starwood Vacation Ownership SunTrust Foundation Tupperware Brands TWS Marketing Group Community Sponsors Baker Hostetler Burr & Foreman LLP CNLBank CNL Financial Group Expedia Local Expert

Florida Hospital HUB International Orlando Magic OUC The Reliable One Publix Super Markets Charities Universal Orlando Supporting Sponsors Akerman LLP Brio Properties Fifth Third Bank David & Anne Fuller The Grand Reserve & The Grand Reserve at Maitland Park Holland & Knight Massey Services Orlando Health Rosen Hotels Randy Schimmelpfennig SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando

Trip & Laurie Stephens TD Bank University of Central Florida Media & Print Sponsors Baldwin Park Press Orange Appeal Orlando Magazine Triangle Reprographics Seminole Voice Winter Park/Maitland Observer WFTV 9 Family Connection and Their Partners: Central Florida Auto Dealers Association, Fun Spot, & Stanley Steemer Beverage Sponsors Barefoot Wine & Bubbly Livie Water Samuel Adams Boston Lager

(Central Florida Division) and Hearts of Gold Event Committee Corporate Leader, to draw the winner of the evening’s raffle. As bidding wars heated up – including one between Varela and Coalition Board Chair Elena Norman (Hilton Grand Vacations) – the silent auction was held open for an additional 45 minutes. At the last minute, event sponsor Orlando Magic generously offered an additional evening for 16 in a President’s Suite to settle the rivalry and raise additional funds for the Coalition. The phenomenal evening culminated in the five featured performers gathering for an emotional performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which Varela explained was symbolic of the Coalition’s supportive services. Guests, left breathless by the powerful performance, stood in a standing ovation, watching and cheering as donations filled an on-screen thermometer soaring past $250,000 and rising above $277,000. The closing number “Seasons of Love,” the beloved song from the musical Rent, contains the lyrics “Measure your life, measure your life in love.” Based on the generosity shown at Hearts of Gold, the Coalition’s supporters are spreading the love.

Photo, opposite page: Craig Irvin, Fernando Varela, Aaron Hill, Sisaundra Lewis, William Joseph, and Branden James; courtesy of Frank Mitchell. This page: Attendee at silent auction, and William Joseph with violinist Maria Dance; courtesy of Graham Oakley.

a day of science as

sweet as

Photos courtesy of Melodi Roberts.

When was the last time you took your children to the movies? To a museum? For the children at the Coalition, these kinds of family outings are few and far between. However, on March 14, the dining room of the Center for Women and Families was transformed into a mini science center, set up by volunteers from BE Orlando to celebrate Pi Day. Sitting at a computer, a young girl created an animated snowman and learned to code. At the opposite end of the room, children gathered around a small wooden catapult, aiming to land a ball into their target, a large plastic red bowl. Volunteer Tony Pelham helped the kids make adjustments to their balls – crumpled pieces of paper – creating changes in volume and drag. Kids at another station are getting fitted with an EEG that is wired to a laptop, which will allow them to see their own brain waves in action. Volunteer Felix Sosa, founder of neurotechnology company Cortex,

explained that since the nervous system is just one great computer that creates a signal strong enough for another computer to read. “It’s manifestation of your thoughts,” he said. “It’s just beautiful.” Event organizer Tee Rogers has organized a Pi Day event for the kids here for the last three years. “I think that the more chances at-risk children have to be exposed to the fun of learning, and to get them excited about math and science, the better,” she said. “It might better equip them to take opportunities that are available to them.” Whether it be an opportunity to get a hands-on study of science and technology, dance classes or a friendly game of flag football, the children at the Coalition have some great opportunities, thanks to you. Every day, your support makes sure that not only will the children have a safe place to sleep, but an environment to help them thrive.


$30,000 Orlando Sentinel Family Foundation Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation

$85,000 Walt Disney World

$20,000 Central Florida Women’s Foundation

$60,000 Orlando Magic Youth Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund

$10,000 Publix Super Markets Charities VNA Foundation

$50,000 Walmart Foundation

$5,000 TD Charitable Foundation

639 West Central Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32801

$4,700 R.J. Hutton Charitable Trust $1,300 TOP Jewish Foundation $1,000 Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation

CONNECT | May/June 2015  

This issue of CONNECT features client and volunteer stories, a letter from our CEO, and a wrap-up of our record-shattering Hearts of Gold ev...

CONNECT | May/June 2015  

This issue of CONNECT features client and volunteer stories, a letter from our CEO, and a wrap-up of our record-shattering Hearts of Gold ev...