To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott hosted a reception this week celebrating the contributions of Hispanic community leaders, educators, and students. As part of the reception, Governor Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman presented Maria Pouncey with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award.

Ms. Pouncey, administrator for curriculum and instructional services for the Panhandle Area Education Consortium, has dedicated countless hours to serving others in the Hispanic community. As a member of the diocesan and regional boards of Catholic Charities, Maria sees her volunteer work as a mission to give back to the community the blessings she has experienced in her life.

Born to migrant farm workers in Texas, Maria’s family traveled throughout the U.S. to work when she was younger. Through tutoring, after school programs, weekend classes or other supplemental programs, Maria is dedicated to equalizing the opportunity for success in school for students who move frequently.

CEO Chester Spellman said, “As migrant families travel from state to state for work, being able to focus on school and keep up with classes can be especially challenging. Also, affordable housing and language barriers can present further hardships for migrant families. Maria goes above and beyond to ensure these families have what they need for their children to succeed.”


In addition to her career as an educator and administrator, Maria is actively engaged in volunteering with Catholic Charities; the Oasis Center for Women & Girls; the Girl Scout Council of the Florida Panhandle; the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Region; Bond Community Health Center; the Gadsden County Health Council; and the Big Bend Area Health Education Center. She is currently the President of the Florida Association of State & Federal Program Administrators.

The Hispanic Heritage Month reception is supported by the Volunteer Florida Foundation and Florida Prepaid College Foundation. Additional sponsors include AT&T, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and Prudential.

About Hispanic Heritage Month
Several Latin American countries celebrate the anniversaries of independence during Hispanic Heritage Month. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua celebrate independence on September 15. Mexico achieved independence on September 16, and Chile, on September 18. Hispanic Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1974 when President Gerald Ford issued a Presidential Proclamation extending Hispanic Heritage Week into a month-long celebration, from September 15 through October 15. This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration bears special significance for Florida as a part of Viva Florida 500, commemorating the arrival of Juan Ponce de León to the land he named La Florida in 1513.

About the Champion of Service Award
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.