During yesterday’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet sponsored a Cabinet resolution proclaiming April to be Florida Volunteer Month. Governor Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman also recognized Suzanne Cognetta, a Boys Town North Florida volunteer, and Kristen Burke, a student who volunteers with the University of Florida’s “Florida Alternative Breaks” program with the Champion of Service Award.
Governor Scott said, “This is an exciting opportunity to celebrate Florida’s volunteers and encourage others to strengthen our communities through service. I am proud to honor the millions of volunteers who we celebrate in April for Florida Volunteer Month, and to highlight exceptional volunteers like Suzanne and Kristen as Champions of Service. Their hard work and dedication is an inspiration to us all.”
CEO Chester Spellman said, “I extend my sincerest thanks to Governor Scott and the Cabinet for recognizing the impact of volunteers and our nonprofit partners. Through Florida Volunteer Month, our Champion of Service Awards and other recognitions, Volunteer Florida celebrates outstanding volunteers like Suzanne and Kristen with the hope that they will inspire others who aren’t currently volunteering to roll up their sleeves and get started.”
Champion of Service Recipients:
Suzanne Cognetta – As a volunteer with Boys Town North Florida for 25 years, Suzanne Cognetta has consistently pursued creative solutions to meet the needs of children in foster care. Suzanne created “Angels Attic” – a boutique with new and gently used clothes donations where teenage girls in foster care can try on clothes, shop and ultimately take pride in their appearance. Suzanne created this opportunity because she realized and identified through her interactions with youth in foster care that many were in need of help to improve their self-confidence. Suzanne also recruits more Boys Town volunteers to further help children in the foster care system to have the tools and skills to become productive citizens. In addition to her more than two decades of service at Boys Town, Suzanne volunteers her time as a “Reading Pal” with the United Way and is active in her church.
Kristen Burke – Kristen Burke is a senior at the University of Florida and volunteers at Florida Alternative Breaks, a program at the UF Center for Leadership and Service. Kristen is deeply committed to making school breaks not just a “day off,” but instead views these as windows of opportunity to tackle projects and have a meaningful impact. Through Florida Alternative Breaks, Kristen has become dedicated to serving others and improving communities through week-long service trips. In the past three years, she has addressed health and aging at a continuing care facility in North Carolina; she assisted people living with HIV and AIDS in Alabama; she led service-based youth summer programs for elementary and middle school children in Georgia; and most recently, she performed trail maintenance and restoration on the Florida National Scenic Trail for the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.
Many of Volunteer Florida’s nonprofit partners participated in the Florida Volunteer Month resolution presentation, including representatives from Big Brothers Big Sisters, America’s Second Harvest Food Bank, Boys Town, the Voices for Children Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Guardian ad Litem, Boys & Girls Clubs, Take Stock in Children, and VolunteerLEON. Commissioner Chucha Barber accepted the resolution on behalf of Volunteer Florida.
For more information about Florida Volunteer Month, visit: http://www.volunteerflorida.org/volunteer/florida-volunteer-month/.