FOR RELEASE: May 9, 2013
CONTACT: Jayme O’Rourke, 561-603-8336

ORLANDO – Honoring individuals and groups for their outstanding efforts and contributions in the realm of volunteerism and passion to serve their community, two Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Awards were presented at yesterday’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet at Nemours Children’s Hospital.

Governor Scott said, “It was an honor to present Champion of Service Awards to the City Year and Give Kids the World organizations. Through their work, they are bettering the lives of Florida families and continuing to make our state the best place in the nation to live, work, and raise a family.”

Elymi Peralta, 18, of Kissimmee, received the Champion of Service individual award for her service as a mentor and tutor with City Year Orlando. City Year is a national dropout prevention program targeting at-risk youth with intensive intervention by “near-peer” AmeriCorps members.

Serving in a 6th-grade math classroom, Elymi works tirelessly with her students to ensure they excel academically and personally. In the last quarter, 80% of her students have made significant learning gains, earning a grade of C or higher in their math class.

“In all aspects of her work, Elymi embodies excellence, and serves with spirit, discipline, purpose and pride,” said Patrick Heckel, Impact Director for City Year Orlando.

Pamela Landwirth, President of Give Kids the World Village, accepted a group Champion of Service award on behalf of their organization’s volunteers. Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) is a 70-acre, non-profit resort in Central Florida that creates magical memories for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. GKTW provides accommodations at its whimsical resort, donated attractions tickets, meals and more for a weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacation.

Give Kids The World has a thriving volunteer program, with 1,500 volunteer shifts per week, engaging their volunteer “Angels” to contribute their time and energy to help make children’s dreams come true. Since Give Kids the World opened in 1986, their volunteers have contributed 2.3 million hours of service.

“We have welcomed volunteer Angels from around the state, the country and around the world who have graciously shared their time, talent and hearts to bring happiness and hope to more than 120,000 children with life-threatening illnesses and their families,” said GKTW President Pamela Landwirth. “Our dedicated volunteer Angels allow Give Kids The World to continue our mission of providing weeklong, cost-free vacations to children who need it the most.”

Chester Spellman, CEO of Volunteer Florida, said:

“Every year, 3.4 million Floridians volunteer. By highlighting their tremendous work through these Champion of Service Awards, we are hopeful that even more Floridians will be inspired to serve.”

For more information about the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Awards, visit:

 # # #

Volunteer Florida, the Governor’s Commission on Community Service, was established in 1994 by the Florida Legislature to administer grants under the National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993. The Commission grants funds to Florida AmeriCorps and National Service programs; coordinates volunteers and donations in a disaster; and inspires all Floridians to serve their communities. For more information, visit: