TALLAHASSEE – During today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO, Chester Spellman, recognized four deserving Champions of Service: Peacemakers Family Center in Miami; AmeriCorps members Debra Trent and Stefon Gavin, mentors of 50 Large in Leon County; and the College of Central Florida’s Dental Assisting Program Outreach Dental Clinic.

Governor Scott said, “As the holiday season approaches, we are reminded of the importance of helping others and working to improve our communities. It is an honor to recognize these organizations and individuals for their selfless service to Floridians in need. I applaud these four recipients for their dedication to changing lives across our state.”

Chester W. Spellman, CEO of Volunteer Florida, said, “Volunteer Florida is proud to recognize organizations across our state that use volunteers to power their organizations. Putting AmeriCorps members to work in some of these programs, such as Peacemakers and 50 Large, truly maximizes their potential to efficiently meet Floridians’ needs and save taxpayer dollars. It is an honor to recognize them today with the Champion of Service Award.”
Peacemakers Family Center in Miami

Peacemakers Family Center and its volunteers provide services to low-income families in Miami, including a food pantry, social services counseling, job placement services, unemployment benefit counseling and parenting classes. Rev. Linda Freeman, Executive Director, and Pastors Robyn and Rich Wilkerson, Founders and Senior Pastors, have guided Peacemakers since its inception, creating a safe place for children and empowering inner city and minority youth by building a sense of self-worth, a focus on civic engagement, and advocacy through inter-generational influence. Peacemakers also provides support for the children of incarcerated adults. The Children of Inmates program helps families with after-school care, tutoring and counseling five days a week. Since its creation, Children of Inmates has served 1,500 children and families.
Debra Trent and Stefon Gavin – 50 Large
Stefon Gavin and Debra Trent are AmeriCorps members and tutors with the 50 Large program through Leon County Schools. A grantee of Volunteer Florida, Leon County Schools/50 Large Program pairs at-risk young people with mentors who provide coaching and support to end the cycle of multiple discipline referrals, suspensions and truancy issues. Stefon is a peer tutor and mentor to the young men of 50 Large, assisting them in making healthy choices as they face the challenges of daily life. Debra works with 50 Large students to provide academic support, focused mentoring, character development, and life skills to students.
College of Central Florida’s Dental Assisting Program Outreach Dental Clinic
The College of Central Florida’s Dental Assisting Program Outreach Dental Clinic is a partnership between the Marion County Health Department and the College of Central Florida. It provides job training for dental health professionals and increases access to dental health care for underserved populations. Under the leadership of Deanna Stentiford, Associate Dean of Health Sciences, students and volunteers opened a facility to provide free dental care to over 16,000 children annually while offering an exceptional educational experience for College of Central Florida students. The dental assisting program at College of Central Florida recently received the Chancellor’s Best Practice Award from Randy Hanna, Chancellor of the Florida College System.

Randy Hanna, Chancellor Of The Florida College System said, “We are proud to work with Volunteer Florida to recognize members of the Florida College System who serve not only the students on their campus, but the people of their community. The College of Central Florida’s Dental Assisting Program Outreach Dental Clinic meets the needs of an underserved population, while also providing critical job training. This program is truly a Champion of Service.”

The Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award honors individuals and groups for their outstanding volunteer efforts. For more information about the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Awards, click here.