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ate fall and early winter are busy times with the region’s leading companies running great fundraising campaigns for United Way of North Central Florida. The money raised through the campaigns provides the dollars available for funding through the Community Investment Fund process. Those dollars go directly to 26 worthy programs at 19 of our 26 community impact partner agencies. Some early results report a number of companies did an outstanding job of increasing over last year. Overall, the United Way campaign is projecting a slight increase over last year’s results! Bravo to all involved. If you know a company that is interested in volunteerism and giving through United Way, please contact Dana Clayton, or 352-333-0846. Above: 1) of Gainesville & GRU getting physical in their Amazing Race. 2) Nationwide knows how to raise money and have fun! 3) RTI Surgical cooking up some good grub at their cook-off challenge. 4) RTI Surgical Destination Hope, ready for take off! 5) UFCC, enjoying the glory of their tricycle race.


UNITED WAY IS GRATEFUL TO OUR LOCAL BUSINESS COMMUNITY FOR ITS SUPPORT OF OUR WORK IN THE AREAS OF EDUCATION, INCOME AND HEALTH. We invite campaign committee members and other United Way supporters to attend the 2013 Campaign Finale lunch to celebrate on March 14 at 11:30 a.m. located at the Best Western Plus Gateway Grand Hotel. While lunch is free, we do you ask that you R.S.V.P. at Thanks to our great sponsor, Florida Food Service.





arilyn Palumbo loves volunteering. If you ever call North Florida Regional Medical Center you might hear her say “Patient information – may I help you?” But her helping hand doesn’t stop there. The retired educator was recently named one of Terwilliger Elementary School’s volunteers of the year for her service as a ReadingPals volunteer. With 44 years of teaching experience, Palumbo was incredibly excited and couldn’t wait to begin volunteering when the program started in August. She had absolutely no reservations about being a ReadingPals volunteer since she had taught most of her life.

Terwilliger student, Nevaeh Lee, hugs her ReadingPal, Marilyn Palumbo

What initially motivated her to start the program was thinking back to all the students she saw throughout her teaching career who struggled with reading. “It was very sad because they had so much going against them before they even started,” she said. She became a ReadingPal to Nevaeh Lee, a first grader, this past August. She described her as an adorable,

DID YOU KNOW 27% OF 3RD GRADE STUDENTS IN ALACHUA COUNTY DID NOT PASS THE READING PORTION OF THE FCAT IN 2010! BE THE ONE TO TURN THAT STATISTIC AROUND TODAY! creative, and lovable little girl who especially likes reading books about family. Since Palumbo started working with Lee, she has noticed her confidence in reading build. She also said that Lee works very hard on her extra reading exercises given to her by her teacher and guidance counselor. Palumbo said that she believes volunteering is a “win-win” situation for everyone involved and that you get so much more than you give. “The most rewarding aspect of teaching any student, and especially Nevaeh, is when you see progress and the light in their eyes when they ‘get it’.” 


SPEND THE DAY WITH JOHN SPENCE UPCOMING EVENTS MARCH 25 • 6–7:30 p.m. YOUNG LEADERS SOCIETY INFO SESSION Event details: Come get to know your local Young Leaders Society while enjoying free snacks and socializing with other young professionals. Find out who we are, what we are doing, and all about our awesome 2014 events. All donors age 21–45 are welcome! Thanks to our sponsors: Enterprise Holdings, Nationwide, and Scarborough Insurance.

Join us for this second annual fundraiser that will put you ahead of the game! During this fast-paced and informative session, John Spence will share the results of a proprietary leadership research study he conducted with more than 8,000 high-potential employees at top companies around the world. The findings of this study clearly show that what people look for in a leader has shifted dramatically in the last several years. John will address some of the biggest issues that businesses and leaders are facing right now and how to effectively deal with them.

IN THIS SESSION YOU WILL LEARN • The key concepts for being an effective leader • How to create a culture of high accountability • Tools for becoming a better listener • The importance of asking “expert” questions

Location: Nationwide Insurance, 3300 SW Williston Rd., Gainesville, FL 32608 R.S.V.P.:

•W  hat the next generation of workers demand from their employer

APRIL 2 • 5:30–7:30 p.m.

All proceeds go towards United Way of North Central Florida. John is offering a greatly reduced price of $100. Buy a table of ten and receive a seat free.

WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP COUNCIL GIRLS NIGHT OUT AT CORKS & COLORS Event details: Join us for a fun night of painting, food and drinks and fundraising for a great cause! All the money raised goes towards Elementary Essentials. Location: Corks & Colors, 3415 W. University Ave., Gainesville, FL 32607 R.S.V.P.:

MAY 15 • 5:30–7:30 p.m. A NIGHT OF THANKS – SAVE-THE-DATE Event details: Our Leadership and Tocqueville Donors and a guest are invited to join us for our annual recognition and appreciation for your support. Enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres as we THANK YOU for your generosity. A special thanks to our hosts, Heather and Jim Doughton. Thanks to our sponsors: Florida Food Service, and North Florida Regional Medical Center

•H  ow to attract and keep top talent and deal with poor performers


EVENT DETAILS Date & Time: April 25, 1–4 p.m. Location: The Best Western Plus Gateway Grand, 4200 Northwest 97th Blvd., Gainesville, FL 32606 Tickets available now at: Check out the video Spence made promoting “Spend the day with John Spence” at

Location: Heather and Jim Doughton’s Home Visit for more details on location and to R.S.V.P. 2 / LIVE UNITED





nited Way of North Central Florida held a press event for VITA EITC Awareness Day on February 1, 2014. This event highlighted the importance of filing your taxes, promoted the United Way’s VITA program, and celebrated the talented students enrolled in Buchholz High School Academy of Finance who are currently preparing community members taxes. Thanks to our wonderful speakers: Michele Brothers, Director of Buchholz

VITA BY THE NUMBERS 2013 •2  34 filed tax returns, making United Way of North Central Florida one of the top 25 myfreetaxes URLs in the country (

Academy of Science; Hershel Lyons, Deputy Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools; Stephen Halker, IRS Taxpayer Advocate; and Congressman Ted Yoho. The United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides FREE tax preparation and filing to anyone that earns a low to moderate income. People can earn up to $5,800 from their earned income tax credit (EITC). 

• Total EITC = $561,385 • Total refunds = $1,686,007 • 100 volunteers • 1,485 filed tax returns

Free Tax Prep Take advantage of this free service today by calling 2-1-1 to schedule an appointment at one of our 12 VITA sites and for your chance to win a free laptop. Or do your taxes from home by visiting sponsored by




hank you to everyone who attended Hearts Unite on February 13, our annual fundraiser. We invited people who were unfamiliar with our organization’s mission so we could share our heartfelt story of making lasting impact in our community by focusing on the building blocks that lead to a good quality of life – Education, Health and Income. Guests joined us at Trinity United Methodist Church for a delicious lunch, compliments of Piesanos, while listening to a powerful hour of inspirational stories–especially Lazoriah McDonald’s speech that received a standing ovation. McDonald, a 10th grade Gainesville High School student, is part of United Way’s Check & Connect Program. She told our guests that Check & Connect saved her life, put her on track to succeed in school and as a result, next year will be dual enrolled at Santa Fe College. She shared her sincere thanks to United Way for the positive changes she has experienced since working with her Check & Connect Specialist, Patrick Wright.

Congressman Ted Yoho and Michele Brothers, center, pictured with Buchholz Academy of Finance Students.



Wright called the Check & Connect Program a “bridge to success,” saying students who started with below average GPA and at serious risk of dropping out are now on their way to a path that leads to college.

Left Speakers and Check & Connect Advocates: Patrick Wright, Lozariah McDonald and Belinda Jackson; Right Chris Tharp and Maureen Tartaglione; Top Tim Giuliani and Board Member Nick Banks; Middle Speakers: Debbie Mason and Matt Fajack; Bottom Speaker: Brad White asks guests to Imagine, Inspire, and Invest in a better community by supporting United Way.

Belinda Jackson, a mother of a Check & Connect student also spoke at the event and said her son’s grades, demeanor and attendance have improved greatly since he joined the program. The Check & Connect Program that provides drop-out prevention services to at-risk 9th graders in three Alachua County high schools was not the only focus of the event. Also, we highlighted the many programs United Way of North Central Florida provides to our community. Programs like ReadingPals, 2-1-1, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), FamilyWize®, Seal and Smile, Success By 6, and the 26 community impact partner programs that United Way of North Central Florida funds were highlighted. Peaceful Paths, one of the community impact partners that receives funding showcased the impact of its shelter program through a moving presentation by Executive Director Dr. Theresa Beachy. Thank you to our attendees and especially to our wonderful speakers, and our sponsors, Florida Food Service, Inc. and Piesanos. We hope that we filled your hearts with hope as we continue to work together to make lasting impact in our community! 



T The Check & Connect program places a full-time adult mentor in three high schools (Eastside, Gainesville and Hawthorne) to work directly with up to 40 students entering 9th grade for two years to help them transition to high school, improve their attendance and reduce the behavioral issues that keep them from learning.



azoriah McDonald’s story is one of achievement and success thanks to her involvement with United Way’s Check & Connect program. When she entered the 9th grade, McDonald was identified at being at high risk for dropping out of high school. With grades that were mostly D’s, McDonald said she “loved school but felt like I was dumb. When the teacher put the worksheet in front of me, I wouldn’t even try to answer the questions. I already thought I couldn’t do it.” McDonald’s mom was recently divorced with three children at home and “was very concerned about Lazoriah.” Her mom likes the accountability that is in the program and says she has seen a positive impact in the changes in her daughter. 6 / LIVE UNITED

Teachers previously thought McDonald was “slow” and that label really affected her mom. “The Check & Connect program has had a tremendous impact,” said McDonald’s mom. “The laptop [given to Check & Connect students by United Way] allows her to be more independent. Her confidence has grown.” The Check & Connect program places a full-time adult mentor in three high schools (Eastside, Gainesville and Hawthorne) to work directly with up to 40 students entering 9th grade for two years to help them transition to high school, improve their attendance and reduce the behavioral issues that keep them from learning. McDonald’s report

card reflects her increased confidence and success, due to the program, with a new GPA of 3.5. Superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools Hershel Lyons agrees the program is a huge success and would like to see it expand to serve additional youth. United Way is raising funds to sustain and expand the Check & Connect program. Our goal is $150,000 by June, 2014. If you would like to contribute to see this program expand, please visit or mail your check to United Way of North Central Florida, 6031 NW 1st Place, Gainesville, FL 32607 with a notation “Check & Connect.” 

he power of those three little words was the strategy behind the new United Way theme for the coming year. Previewing this year’s video at the Hearts Unite event, United Way unveiled the Imagine, Inspire, Invest concept. The video engaged audience members to ask themselves “What can I do to build our community?” This year’s theme takes advantage of reaching out to individual donors and exploring how their support of United Way makes a real difference in our community—and how every individual citizen has the opportunity to join with us to unite and do more. Imagine if United Way had a $150,000 extra dollars to expand the Check & Connect Program. We could serve nearly 100 more 9th graders who are at risk of dropping out of high school. That program inspires donors to see how United Way will reach its goal of increasing high school graduation to 90 percent by the year 2018. Investing in the Check & Connect Program of United Way is a way for donors to invest in the future generation of our community. By inspiring at-risk

9th graders to attend school, reduce discipline issues and improve grades, not only do we improve the graduation rates of our high school students but we also increase their lifetime income earning potential ten-fold! Additionally we reduce the cost to society for subsidy programs to support drop-out teens who become poor, under employed or unemployed as struggling adults. Imagine that no one went hungry in our community because we were inspired to introduce United Way to business owners who have the potential to run United Way campaigns to raise more money. Our community has the potential to double the campaign revenue—to get us closer to $7 million a year —to invest in programs that can potentially eradicate hunger in seniors and working families that struggle to keep meals on the table. Those are just two of the many dreams United Way supporters and community leaders have for our community. Please join United Way this year. We ask you to Imagine, Inspire, Invest. 


NON-PROFIT ORG. US POSTAGE PAID PERMIT # 133 GAINESVILLE, FL 6031 NW 1st Place Gainesville, FL 32607-2025 (352) 331-2800

YOUR UNITED WAY TEAM Staff Debbie Mason, President & CEO Rhonda Johnson, Director of Operations Mary Broadfoot, Executive Administrative Assistant

Community Impact Team Karen Slevin, VP Community Impact Jennifer Stojkovic, 2-1-1/Health & Income Impact Manager Courtney Juergens, VITA Coordinator Norinda Rosario Yancey, Education and School-based Initiatives Manager Angela Hutchings, ReadingPals Coordinator Barbara Brady, Check & Connect Specialist Annetta McCloud, Check & Connect Specialist Patrick Wright, Check & Connect Specialist

Development Team Dana Clayton, VP, Resource Development Chris Tharp, Development Director of Residential & Individual Giving Amy Stickel, Development Associate, Affinity Groups Sylvia Waldman, Donor Database Manager

Communications & Marketing Team Sarah Coulson, Communications Specialist

Board of Directors Executive Committee Matt Fajack, University of Florida, Chair Kay Ayers, AvMed, Vice Chair Carolyn Lukert, Dementia Education, Inc., Past Board Chair Ed Bonahue, Santa Fe College, Member-At-Large Dennis Gies, Community Volunteer, Member-At-Large Kenneth Kurdziel, James Moore & Company, Finance Chair Melanie Ross, UF Health, Communications Chair

Board Members Nick Banks, Front Street Realty, Development Harbin Bolton, Cox Communications Rob Chapman, Publix Bill Gair, University of Florida, Campaign Sam Goforth, Wells Fargo Josh Greenberg, Grooveshark Tony Jones, Gainesville Police Department James Larsen, Allied/Harleysville Insurance Shaney Livingston, Alachua County Library District Hershel Lyons, Alachua County Public Schools Ken McGurn, McGurn Investments Ed Poppell, UF Development Corporation Andy Sherrard, O2BKids! Dr. Patricia Snyder, University of Florida Adrian Taylor, Springhill Missionary Baptist Church, Public Policy Lynda Tealer, University Athletic Association, Inc. Brad White, SunTrust, N.A. Jenna White, Enterprise Holdings, Inc., CIT

2013–2014 Campaign Cabinet Bill Gair, Chair, University of Florida Kay Ayers, AvMed Nick Banks, Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group Kara Bolton, Kara Bolton Homes, Inc. Matt Fajack, University of Florida Brad Pollitt, UF Health Shands John Power, Alachua County Tax Collector Jason Shank, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Jay St. Pierre, North Florida Regional Medical Center Brad White, SunTrust Bank

Thanks to PRO iNK for their generous in-kind donation to offset the costs of our annual report! Thanks to our staff and all the volunteers that took the time to make families’ holidays brighter this year! And a special thanks to Sunbelt Moving & Delivery, Inc. for donating your staff’s time and equipment. We couldn’t have done this without you!

Special thanks to our Academy Sponsors

Winter newsletter 2014  
Winter newsletter 2014