|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2023
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Volunteer Florida reflects on another successful year strengthening Florida’s communities through national service and fostering volunteerism.
“Under the leadership of the Governor and First Lady DeSantis, our Commission and Foundation, stakeholders and partners, Volunteer Florida has continued to provide the necessary resources to strengthen our communities and transform the lives of Floridians,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo.
This year, Volunteer Florida immediately stepped up to the challenge of helping those impacted by Hurricane Ian. Through the Florida Disaster Fund, the Volunteer Florida Foundation has supported community partners engaged in long-term recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Ian. Over 500 organizations posted disaster relief opportunities on our Volunteer Connect portal, and more than 2,400 individuals expressed interest in unique opportunities in response to Hurricane Ian. Volunteer Florida’s Foundation has collected over $60 million in donations to help with recovery in communities impacted by Hurricane Ian.
Volunteer Florida hosted the seventh annual “Suits for Session” service project with our partner, Simply Healthcare. The 5,144 items of professional clothing and accessories collected were donated to Bridges International, CareerSource Gulf Coast, and AMIKids Panama City Marine Institute – organizations dedicated to supporting job-seekers in Florida striving to enter or re-enter the workforce. Since its inception in 2016, Volunteer Florida’s “Suits for Session” service project has collected over 30,000 items, translating to more than 20,000 pounds of professional attire.
Volunteer Florida offered a six-week, 11-course Grant Writing Certification Program to better prepare Florida non-profit organizations for the grant application process and to increase their likelihood of selection for the different grants we offer throughout the year. Participants engaged in weekly informational and workshop sessions that covered topics ranging from understanding grant criteria to learning best practices from previously successful grant applicants. Participants who completed the entire 11-course training received a certificate of completion and written feedback.
Volunteer Florida launched a Volunteer Recognition campaign during National Volunteer Month in April. Each day of the month, through our social media platforms, Volunteer Florida’s #VF30in30 spotlighted volunteers from across the state and their volunteer activities and highlighted the impacts of their service.
Additionally, Volunteer Florida’s Foundation organized a Healthy Minds Summit for Florida middle and high school student leaders in April, a youth-centered event to discuss mental resiliency and the unique challenges teens face today. The three-day event, sponsored by Sunshine Health, provided resources to our participants to learn about leadership skills, deepen peer relationships, and find innovative ways to help address the issues impacting our youth.
In June, Volunteer Florida announced up to $500,000 available in grant funding to assist Florida’s non-profit organizations in recruiting and retaining skills-based volunteers made available through the national Volunteer Generation Fund. Eligible organizations could apply for one of the 24 grants offered.
In October, the second annual virtual Volunteer Leadership Convening Series hosted by Volunteer Florida at no cost provided essential insights to equip Florida’s volunteer engagement leaders as they expand the impact of service in communities statewide. The series covered a variety of topics: recruitment strategies, remote volunteering, volunteerism in rural communities, youth and service, corporate/non-profit partnerships, the role of feedback in volunteer programming, and professional development. More than 100 individuals participated in a four-day virtual series, with sessions led by national experts.
In addition, Volunteer Florida announced a research study conducted on the Nature of Volunteerism. Researchers at the University of Florida worked with Volunteer Florida to develop, implement, and analyze a scientific, quantitative survey of a random sample of Florida residents. Volunteer Florida hosted a roundtable discussion with stakeholders to discuss the survey findings and objectives. The overview report and full study are available for download on our website.
During the year, Volunteer Florida maintained its high commitment to serving Florida’s communities. Volunteer Florida has 40 AmeriCorps programs in 28 counties during the 2022-2023 program year. Volunteer Florida’s Volunteer Generation Fund program has 24 Florida non-profits who spent the grant year recruiting skills-based volunteers to serve Florida communities. Our Emergency Management department awarded 24 Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) grants. The Volunteer Florida Foundation also funded non-profit organizations supporting long-term recovery efforts from Hurricanes Michael and Irma.
As Volunteer Florida moves into 2023, the continued efforts in volunteerism and service will be evident in all three legs of our service stool. To learn more about the agency, please visit www.volunteerflorida.org or sign-up for our newsletter here.
About Volunteer Florida
Volunteer Florida, established in Florida Statute in 1994, manages national service programs and advocates for volunteerism throughout the Sunshine State. Volunteer Florida has evolved to also serve as the state’s lead agency for mobilizing volunteers and coordinating donations before, during, and after disasters, including managing the Florida Disaster Fund. Volunteer Florida remains committed to promoting volunteerism in Florida and launched the state’s official volunteer opportunities platform in Volunteer Connect. Volunteer Florida delivers high-impact volunteer programs and opportunities that