By Sharon Aron Baron
Community Foundation of Broward has honored a resident of Coral Springs and Parkland as “Nonprofit Hidden Heroes.”
Community Foundation President and CEO Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson said these hidden heroes that live among us are serving our community every day in our nonprofits here in Broward County and helped us get through COVID-19.
“These are some amazing stories of courage, care, compassion, and love.”
The winners were selected for helping their nonprofits continue to provide valuable services to their clients and the community during the pandemic.
Tina Cortez, from Coral Springs, was named one of Broward’s Nonprofit Hidden Heroes for her work as Director of the Wildlife Hospital at the Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital, which is also in Coral Springs.
Robin Reccasina, CEO of Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital, said Tina’s dedication to the animals is evident by the exceptional wildlife care and rehabilitation she provides.
“Tina designed a contactless drop off for the public to drop off injured animals at our gate and responded to every drop off herself. Having no volunteers, she quickly cross-trained other staff to assist in animal care. She transferred many of the animals that were most critical and had the most demanding needs to her home so she could give them 24-hour care.”
Samantha “Sam” Kelly, from Parkland, was honored for her work as Vice President of Rehabilitation Programs at Lighthouse of Broward for the Blind & Visually Impaired in Fort Lauderdale.
Ellyn Drotzer, CEO of Lighthouse of Broward for the Blind & Visually Impaired, said Sam provided vision and leadership.
“We knew we had to pivot to an online platform, but our clients’ fundamental lack of sight made this seem almost impossible.”
Sam led the creative plan to provide uninterrupted rehabilitative services.
“We closed the building on Friday, and by Monday, all of our programming was transformed into an electronic format, and services were constructed using a web-based platform,” said Drotzer.
Other Broward Nonprofit Hidden Heroes are:
Timothy Curtin, Executive Director of Community Services, Memorial Healthcare System, Hollywood
Rebecca “Becky” Gould, STEM Center for Education and Career Development Manager, Museum of Discovery & Science, Fort Lauderdale
Tammy Holder, Teaching Artist-in-Residence, Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Fort Lauderdale
Xenia McFarling, Vice President of Rehabilitation Programs, LifeNet4Families, Fort Lauderdale
Natasha McFarquhar, Emergency Basic Needs Navigator, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Broward County, Lauderhill
Alex Nesar, Director of Construction, Habitat for Humanity of Broward, Fort Lauderdale
Belinda Paulicin, Director of Program Services, Gilda’s Club of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale
Sandra Powell, Regional Lab Manager at Broward Health Medical Center
Patricia “Pejay” Ryan, Director of Marketing, Broward Education Foundation, Fort Lauderdale
Elise Samet, Volunteer Program Manager, Canine Assisted Therapy, Oakland Park
Each of the winners receives a $500 award and a prize package that includes a two-night staycation at the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel and gift certificates from multiple restaurants.
Each of their nonprofit organizations receives a monetary award of up to $25,000 and a VIP seat in the Community Foundation’s upcoming Resilience and Recovery program to improve nonprofit crisis preparedness.
Community Foundation of Broward hosted a blue-ribbon judging panel of community leaders to select winners based on taking on extra work, was bold or innovative, solved problems, or created a new system.
For more information, visit cfbroward/HiddenHeroes.
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