TALLAHASSEE – Fanne Smith, 81, of Tallahassee, has been recognized as a Volunteer Florida Champion of Service for her outstanding contributions to volunteerism. Fanne was presented with the award by Governor Rick Scott at today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet.

Fanne is a lifelong volunteer who has contributed countless hours to the Tallahassee community. Her current volunteer work includes serving as a mentor every Monday and Wednesday at PACE Center for Girls and helping homeless and financially strapped citizens every Tuesday and Thursday at ECHO Outreach Ministries – providing approximately 23,000 hours of volunteer service to these organizations in the past 15 years.

Governor Rick Scott said, “Fanne’s dedication to volunteer work is an inspiration that we would all do well to emulate. It is an honor to present her with this award, and I hope it encourages all Floridians to transform communities and change the lives of Florida families through volunteering.”

“There is nothing more valuable we can give our youth than the gift of time,” said Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters. “I commend Ms. Smith for her dedication and thank her for being a strong role model for the young ladies at the PACE Center for Girls, a tremendous program that helps communities across the state by getting at-risk and troubled youth get on the road to a successful future.”

The PACE Center for Girls, where Fanne volunteers, provides academic and social services support to girls who are at high risk for dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, involvement with the criminal justice system, and more. The majority of girls and young women who are referred to PACE have been expelled or suspended from school; they’re 2-4 years behind their peers in math and reading; and they’ve experienced devastating personal losses including abandonment and abuse.

Kelly Otte, Executive Director at the PACE Center for Girls/Leon County, said:

“Our volunteer mentors have to be willing to work with girls who are dealing with serious levels of trauma in their young lives. It takes a special heart, and Fanne sets the standard for what that means! She is a constant in their lives. A person who cares about them and is still there the next time they need her. She challenges the belief they have that people leave them – because she doesn’t.”

In addition to her work at the PACE Center, Fanne spends every Tuesday and Thursday volunteering at ECHO Outreach Ministries, where she serves as the front desk receptionist and helps homeless and financially strapped residents to deal with immediate basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. ECHO serves 20,000 people each year and is Leon County’s largest faith-based human services agency, offering emergency relief and family services.

Marta Arrington, Executive Director at ECHO Outreach Ministries, said:

“Fanne is very in tune with the needs of our clients and she also anticipates things that need to be done for our organization. No task is too big or too small – she’s involved in anything she thinks is a good cause.”

Fanne is the inaugural recipient of the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award, which was launched this month in conjunction with Florida Volunteer Month and this week’s National Volunteer Week celebration. The award will be awarded on a monthly basis to individuals or groups for their outstanding volunteer efforts.

Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said:

“We are thrilled to showcase the talent and contributions of Florida’s volunteers through this awards program. Fanne is one of the 3.4 million Floridians who volunteer every year, and we look forward to sharing more incredible volunteer stories like hers by recognizing exemplary volunteers across the state.”

For more information about the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Awards, visit: www.volunteerflorida.org.