During today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman recognized four champions of service from across the State of Florida.

Governor Scott said, “It is an honor to present the Champion of Service Award to a diverse group of Floridians whose community service truly changes lives.  We are inspired by these individuals and programs which have such a profound impact on those they serve – from mentoring and tutoring children to protecting Florida’s precious natural resources.”

“Groups like the Legacy Mentor Program and Special Olympics Florida are built around the concept that volunteers will be there to serve,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman.  “Volunteers ensure that our state parks attract more visitors, our non-profits are able to thrive, our vulnerable children receive the mentoring they need, and our law enforcement community can extend a helping hand to those in need. It is an honor to present the Champion of Service to these outstanding Florida volunteers and programs.

About the Champions of Service:

Champion of Service:  Legacy Mentor Program (Accepted by Mary Rebekah Fritz, Mentor Program Manager)

The Legacy Mentor Program serves foster children in Central Florida. Volunteers at the Legacy Mentor Program work with children within the Community Based Care of Central Florida program. Currently, 72 young people are in the program. To date, 114 mentors have participated.  Legacy Mentor Program volunteers serve as mentors and tutors; they are specifically trained to guide foster children’s personal growth, academic achievement, and career exploration. By providing significant preventative measures and support for foster children, the Legacy Mentor Program increases academic performance, empowers students, and ensures that they are equipped with basic life skills. In the first three months of 2015 alone, Legacy Mentor Program mentors have spent almost 200 hours with their mentees.

Champion of Service:  Deputy Teddy Floyd, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office
For over ten years, Deputy Floyd has constructed and restored homes for needy families in his community. Under Deputy Floyd’s leadership, the homes are constructed and given to individuals who have been positive role models and contributors in the community. Detective Floyd leads the team of builders who construct the homes, facilitating the donation of the supplies, general labor, and specialty services. Thanks to Deputy Floyd, over a dozen needy families have been able to experience the American Dream of home ownership. Deputy Floyd has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to improve the quality of life in some of the area’s most impoverished communities.

Champion of Service:  Justin Lee, Florida State Parks
Justin has served for almost five years with Savannas Preserve State Park in Port St. Lucie, providing 1,921 service hours.  Justin, who dedicates his weekends and much of his summer vacations to the park, coordinates over 40 youth volunteers, including recruitment and training. Justin also designed and facilitated the Summer “Mad Scientist Series” for young children, which brings introduces STEM skills. Justin has made the Park’s Education Center a fixture in the community. “I commend Justin Lee for his passion and commitment to Florida State Parks,” said Jon Steverson, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “Volunteers like Justin play an important role in making our state parks the best in the nation.”

Champion of Service: Becca Toland, Special Olympics Florida  
As a volunteer with Special Olympics Florida, Becca Toland has served countless hours working with athletes, staff, and other volunteers. She provides administrative support and assists the staff with preparing for competitions. Volunteering has allowed Becca to serve others while building her self-confidence.  She continues to volunteer at Special Olympics Florida, while growing into the role of a community advocate for others with unique abilities.

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.