More than seven months after kicking off their 2016 campaign, Ashley and Wesley Barnett, 2016 campaign co-chairs, reminded a crowd of nearly 300 donors, volunteers and supports, at the United Way of Central Florida’s annual meeting that the 2015 campaign was the best campaign ever by the organization, raising more than $9.08 million. That was until the 2016 campaign.

Last September, at the United Way Campaign Kickoff at Legoland, United Way of Central Florida announced a campaign theme of the “Power of U” and a goal of $9.1 million for 2016.

“With more than 400 companies participating in our workplace campaign, we had another record breaking year and are very excited to announce the new best campaign ever – raising more than $9,203,532.92,” stated Ashley Barnett. “Thank you everyone for continuing to show the “Power of U” in our communities.”

To start the event, United Way of Central Florida’s 2016 board chair, Deric Feacher, announced that the organization has recently completed a strategic plan; Vision 2020 is made up of five Key Strategic Initiatives:

  1. Improve community conditions
  2. Increase resources and broaden base
  3. Increase community awareness and engagement
  4. Improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness
  5. Leverage the partnerships

“The opportunities identified in Vision 2020 are exciting and promise an even stronger and more effective United Way in the future,” Feacher said. “The plan is not only a living plan, but it is a community plan and we look forward to reporting to you on our progress.”

The guest speaker was Topher Morrison, the managing director of Key Person of Influence – USA and author of “Collaboration Economy.” He spoke about the collaboration age.

The top volunteer awards were presented by United Way of Central Florida’s president and CEO, Alan H Turner II:

  • The 2016 Citizen of the Year went to Tom Costello, for his years of service to the organization.
  • The George W. Jenkins Volunteer of the Year Award goes to a UWCF board member or former board member who has gone above and beyond. It was presented to Polk State College’s president, Eileen Holden.
  • This year’s Philanthropists of the Year are: Ron and Denise Clark.

“We as an organization and a community are very blessed to have such engaged leaders,” stated Turner. “Today’s awards highlight just a few of the many individuals and companies that help make positive impact throughout Central Florida.”

The Polk County Board of County Commissioners were award the Spirit of Central Florida Award for their work increase their campaign participation and amount raised. The award is given to a company that has surpassed all expectations.

For their contributions and support some of the top companies were recognized:

  • 2016 Best New Campaign Award winner  – Keller Williams Realty                        
  • Summit Award – Small Company – BB&T
  • Summit Award – Medium Company – Regal Automotive Group                         
  • Summit Award – Large Company – Saddle Creek Logistic Services.

Recognized for the their efforts, a select group of outstanding employee coordinators were honored:

  • Partner Agencies – Rob Sansome with Florida Prosperity Partnership
  • Small companies – Patricia Steed – Central Florida Regional Planning Council
  • Medium companies – Joy Hitchcock – Auto Owners Insurance
  • Large companies – from Central Florida Health Care – Phil Kenney.
  • The 2016 Employee Coordinator of the Year was awarded to Captain Ian Floyd with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The South Florida Avenue Cup that started as a little friendly competition between Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson and Allen & Company. has turned into a serious but still cordial rivalry. The campaigns between the two companies raised more than $100,000. This year was awarded to Allen & Company.

“As we wrap up the 2016 campaign, we want to thank everyone for their support and dedication throughout our journey,” shared Wesley Barnett. “We are so grateful for all the hard work that each of you have put into this campaign and helping to make it a huge success!  We couldn’t have done it without the Power of You”

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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