LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Goodwill Manasota President and CEO Bob Rosinsky was honored Thursday night with the Archangel Award for 2015, given to a community leader who has gone above and beyond to improve the quality of life for young people with special learning needs.
Rosinsky accepted the award at the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club during the annual "Miracle Fest," the primary fundraising event for Ave Maria Preparatory School of Myakka City, the only grade 2-12 school specializing in education for young people with learning disabilities in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Hardee counties.
Rosinsky, with the help of his nonprofit organization, has created 100 jobs through the Supported JobsPlus program, hiring individuals with disabilities in Goodwill Manasota retails stores and donation centers. He recently was appointed president of the Florida Goodwill Association, after spending 42 years of his professional career serving Goodwill Industries across the country.
Several graduates of the not-for-profit Ave Maria Preparatory School have been hired as full-time Goodwill Manasota employees.
"It's a good model for partnerships because you're bringing two nonprofits together and using the resources of both," said Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, director of Ave Maria school.
Students still attending school can take part in a Workforce Education Scholarship program initiated by Manasota Goodwill and the school, allowing them to acquire a high school diploma while receiving job-training skills and a paycheck working for Goodwill.
"Some of the best employees we've got are these young people because they really want the job to participate and be like everybody else. This is really a bridge that goes from school all the way over to their first paycheck and going to work," Rosinsky said.
The school serves young people diagnosed with autism, attention deficit disorder, Asperger's and Tourette syndromes, and bipolar disorders.
Bradenton's Billy Heinig, a 17-year-old junior at Ave Maria school, said he enjoys going to school and working for a Goodwill Manasota donation center.
"It's a fun job to have," Heinig said. "It's my first. I meet new people and I get paid for it,"
The "Miracle Fest" fundraiser helps provide funding for students with disabilities to attend Ave Maria where annual tuition is $12,000. Although many students receive the McKay Scholarship created by the state Legislature to provide half the tuition for Florida students with special needs, the remaining balance is often difficult for many parents to afford without assistance because the students need more medical care and attention.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter@MoschellaHerald.