LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Olivia Davis, a 19-year-old alumnus of Lakewood Ranch High School who is currently a freshman at State College of Florida, can thank local nonprofit Community Haven for helping her successfully transition into higher education.
The organization, which focuses on aiding adults and children with disabilities, including assisting teenagers coping with learning challenges, was one of 22 recipients awarded a share of $68,000 in grants from the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund.
"They sat down with me and helped me focus on different schools that I might be interested in and different careers. They set me up with college tours and even helped me with my personal life and getting me to where I should be," Davis acknowledged.
The Lakewood Ranch Community Fund, which held a special presentation ceremony Friday afternoon at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, awarded grants ranging from $600 to more than $6,000 for different Manatee and Sarasota-area charities dedicated to helping clients in the areas of human services, health care, and education.
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Created as a charitable fund under the larger umbrella of the Manatee Community Foundation, the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in and near Lakewood Ranch by promoting philanthropy, connecting charitable interests of donors with the ongoing needs of the surrounding community, and granting monetary assistance to accomplish those needs.
"The people that work and live in Lakewood Ranch think it's a great area and today we're going to celebrate those that make it that way," said fund president Nick Drizos before the grants were presented.
Stillpoint House of Prayer, a charitable group awarded the largest monetary award, $6,500, is a closely monitored voluntary organization in Bradenton that provides day-to-day assistance in the form of rent, utilities, and medical care to the area's neediest families, preventing them from becoming homeless, according to board member Jim Keiner
"We provide money for rent, water and electricity but they can only come every three months and everything is accounted for. Every week, for the food and diaper program, we have about 130 people that come through," Keiner said.
In addition to announcing the grant award-winners the Community Fund also announced its 2014 Humanitarian of the Year.
Goodwill Manasota's president and chief executive officer, Robert Rosinsky, was selected the 10th recipient of the C. John A. Clark Humanitarian Award for his long-term professional and personal commitment to charity and community service.
In 2013, Goodwill Manasota served 16,000 people, placed 5,000 in jobs and assisted hundreds of local veterans and their families in need of employment, housing and personal services.
Rosinsky, who has spent his entire 42-year-career with Goodwill, said the award was an affirmation for the purpose of Goodwill and all of the people who supported him over the years.
"We are confronted every day with huge problems, and although we can't solve everyone's problems, we can change one life at a time, and that's what we try to do at Goodwill." Rosinsky told the audience.
Rosinsky succeeds the 2013 humanitarian winner, Col. John W. Saputo, USMCR, president and owner of Gold Coast Eagle Distributing in Lakewood Ranch.
Grant recipients are:
Benjamin David Gullett Elementary School: $3,408
Beyond the Spectrum Inc.: $3,200
Center for Building Hope: $2,500
Coexistence Inc. -- Embracing Our Differences Exhibit: $600
Community Haven for Adults and Children with Disabilities: $5,000
Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County Inc.: $4,000
Easter Seals Southwest Florida Inc.: $2,500
Family Network on Disabilities of Manatee/Sarasota: $2,500
Forty Carrots Family Center: $2,038
Foundation for Dreams Inc.: $5,000
Manatee Community Action Agency Inc.: $1,500
Manatee Glens Corp.: $4,054
Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee Inc.: $2,200
Nature's Academy Inc.: $2,000
Project Light of Manatee Inc.: $6,000
Samaritan Counseling Services of the Gulf Coast Inc.: $2,500
Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART): $2,500
Selah Freedom Inc.: $2,500
Stillpoint House of Prayer: $6,500
Tidewell Hospice Inc.: $2,500
Visible Men Academy: $2,500
We Care Manatee Inc.: $2,500