300 attend Sandies Awards at Lakewood Ranch
Violeta Huesman of Keiser University took home the Volunteer of the Year Award on Friday, perhaps the most-coveted Sandies Award presented annually by the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance.
But Huesman was quick to reflect the award back on the approximately 300 people who filled the auditorium of Fete Ballroom at Polo Bar & Grill.
“I am going to throw this back at you. This is for each and every one of us,” Huesman said of the award that recognizes a humble and compassionate member for their selfless contributions of time and energy for the benefit of society, community and the organization.
“Volunteering is because you want to do it from here – from the heart. It only counts when you do it and you don’t expect anything back,” Huseman said, encouraging Alliance members to find someone to help.
“What a perfect time of the year, Thanksgiving. Find somebody, find an organization because there are a lot of people out here who need support and help. This is an amazing community,” she said.
Volunteering is because you want to do it from here -- from the heart. It only counts when you do it and you don’t expect anything back.
Violeta Huseman, volunteer of the year
The Sandies awards, which take their name from the ever-present sandhill cranes at Lakewood Ranch, are presented in nine categories to recognize the passion and spirit of Alliance members, said Lori Ruth, the 2017 board chair.
“At the end of the day, it is a volunteer organization, and it’s all about you,” Ruth said.
Executive director Heather Kasten underscored the importance of members.
“Volunteers are the engine that powers the alliance,” Kasten said. “Today is the day that we pause to truly celebrate all of their efforts.”
Tommy Klauber, owner of the Polo Grill, watched the program from the back of the room.
“It’s an annual tradition that people look forward to,” Klauber said of the Sandies.
Winners were selected from a pool of 48 finalists by their peers.
Other Sandies awards presented Friday:
- One of a Kind: Diane Kopczyinski of Mauldin & Jenkins.
- Rising Star: Amanda Arnold, Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club.
- Ray of Sunshine: Lisa Kirkland of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.
- Networking King Award: Adam Miller of Keller Williams - Lakewood Ranch.
- Networking Queen: Charlotte Griffin of Berlin Patten Ebling PLLC.
- Bull by the Horns: Lori Ruth, Observer Media Group.
- Young Professional of the Year: Keith Pandeloglou, Lakewood Ranch Community Activities.
- Best Rancher: Fern Grace of Abacus Web Service.