TALLAHASSEE – During today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman recognized the organization Support The Troops, Mark Van Trees, Support The Troops Director, and the organization Team Red White and Blue and Lani Faulkner, who volunteers as National Community Outreach Director and Daytona Chapter Captain of Team Red White and Blue.
Governor Scott said, “As we honor our nation’s veterans and thank them for their service, it is fitting that we also honor the volunteers and organizations that support members of the military and their families. Team Red White and Blue and Support the Troops are excellent organizations that support active-duty troops, veterans, and military families by using the power of volunteers. It is an honor to recognize them today with the Champion of Service Award.”
Champions of Service Recipients:
Lani Faulker – Lani Faulker volunteers as National Community Outreach Director and Daytona Chapter Captain of Team Red White and Blue. Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity. As a volunteer leader for Team RWB, Lani provides essential execution of day-to-day operations, ensuring that all teams perform efficiently. Under Lani’s leadership, Team RWB hosts weekly events as well as producing multiple high-level events throughout the year, including the Firecracker 4 and 10 miler, Run as One, and Workout of the Day. She is the wife, mother, and daughter of service members.
Mark Van Trees, on behalf of Support The Troops – Support The Troops distributes care packages to members of the military in combat zones, remote locations, and in the US. Mark Van Trees serves as Director. Support the Troops sends approximately 120-250 boxes each week, weighing approximately 50 pounds, to U.S. military units in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, and Kyrgyzstan. Packages include a variety of items, including coffee, snack foods, batteries, DVDs, and personal toiletries. In April 2014, Support the Troops donated 21 pallets of clothes, food, toiletries, and other items to seven Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs nursing homes. From 2004-2012, Support The Troops distributed 156,000 pounds of goods to members of the military and their families; from 2010-2012, the number increased to 184,000 pounds. Over the last two years, Support The Troops has distributed 350,000 pounds of items.
Support The Troops, based in Wesley Chapel, collects and distributes thousands of pounds of items to service members deployed overseas, as well as supporting veterans in Florida by partnering with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Team Red White and Blue, a national organization with local chapters, supports veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.
Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said, “Volunteers provide the ‘human capital’ necessary for non-profits to excel. “Both of these volunteer leaders have provided countless hours of service themselves, as well as mobilizing Floridians to get involved by volunteering, providing financial support, and raising community awareness.”
Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Executive Director Col. Mike Prendergast said, “From organizing races to promoting physical wellbeing to shipping supplies to our troops overseas, both Team Red White and Blue and Support the Troops recognized an unmet need and found a solution by using the power of volunteers. These organizations are meeting the needs of those who continue to serve in remote locations and combat zones, as well as those who are transitioning back to civilian life.”
About the Volunteer Florida 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.
About Volunteer Florida:
Volunteer Florida is the Governor’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service in Florida. Volunteer Florida grants funds to educational foundations, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations to administer AmeriCorps and National Service Programs. Volunteer Florida leads Florida’s national days of service, including September 11 and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. During disasters, Volunteer Florida is the lead agency for volunteers and donations. For more information, visit: www.volunteerflorida.org.