TAMPA – Today, during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman presented the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award to Zannie Mount, a United Way Suncoast volunteer, and Paul Utter, a Southeastern Guide Dogs graduate and volunteer.

Governor Scott said, “It is an honor to present the Champion of Service Award to Zannie and Paul for their volunteer efforts in the Tampa Bay area. Zannie and Paul’s exceptional service with United Way Suncoast and Southeastern Guide Dogs demonstrate the variety of ways that Floridians improve and inspire the lives of many in their communities.”
Zannie Mount has volunteered at United Way Suncoast in the Tampa area for over 35 years, contributing more than 25,854 hours of service. He has served in many volunteer leadership roles at the Allen Temple AME Church and is co-founder of The Crescent Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that promotes mentoring programs and initiatives for young males ages 13-18 in their efforts to excel through education, culture, athletics and social activities.  Zannie has also been active in fundraising tens of thousands of dollars for charitable causes including college scholarships for inner-city youth, the March of Dimes and the American Cancer Society.

Paul Utter is a U.S. Air Force veteran and volunteer for Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc., which has provided guide dogs to people with visual impairments for over 30 years. Paul was matched with a veteran service dog named Ellie in April 2011 through Southeastern Guide Dogs’ “Paws for Patriots” program. The Paws for Patriots program pairs visually impaired veterans with guide dogs and also trains and places exceptional veteran service dogs into a partnership benefiting veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress.  Since his partnership with Ellie began, Paul has worked tirelessly to increase his comfort around large groups of people so he can share information about Southeastern Guide Dogs’ mission. He has volunteered with veteran service dog trainers, provided support and encouragement to veterans who are newly matched with guide dogs, and has even recently thrown the first pitch at a Tampa Bay Rays’ game to raise awareness about Southeastern Guide Dogs.
Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said, “Zannie and Paul are an inspiration to us all. They are proof of the transformative changes volunteering can have both in our communities and in our own lives, and I hope this award presentation today encourages even more Floridians to strengthen our state’s communities through volunteering.”

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.

For Immediate Release
February 6, 2014

Contact: media@eog.myflorida.com (850) 717-9282