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  October Local Life  
  Community happenings in and around Central Florida.  

Flying for a Cause
This month, iFly Orlando, an indoor skydiving attraction, will be raising money in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with proceeds benefitting Libby’s Legacy. This locally founded charity provides comprehensive breast healthcare to underserved Central Florida communities through education, mammograms, follow-up diagnostics and Hope Coaches for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Every day in October, flyers can purchase “Keep Hope Fly On” shirts and discounted coupons, with a portion of the sales going directly to the charity. While in the skydiving tunnel, they will also have the opportunity to give a shout out to someone close to them who has survived breast cancer by holding signs that say, “I flew for…” Photos that can be sent along to their loved one will be available for purchase.
“We recognize that breast cancer is a serious problem for thousands of Americans,” says Nick Romeo, director of sales and marketing for iFly Orlando. “Libby’s Legacy is a well-respected organization here in the Central Florida region, and we are proud to assist in our own, unique way.”
On November 1, iFly Orlando will end the month-long campaign with a celebration party, where nearly three-dozen cancer survivors and family members will be able to fly for free. At that time, a check for the money raised will be presented to representatives from Libby’s Legacy to assist them in the fight against breast cancer.

Millions Granted to Central Florida Non-Profits
This past summer Dr. Phillips Charities, a philanthropic association, awarded $5,626,000 in grants to Central Florida non-profit community organizations. The recipients of this grant included The Orlando Science Center, The YMCA of Central Florida, The Florida Real Estate Foundation, MicheLee Puppets, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida and The Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Orlando Science Center was awarded $750,000 of that grant to aid in the growth of the Orange Grove Exhibit. This expansion will add major math and science processing skills such as measuring and counting.
The YMCA of Central Florida is the largest recipient of the grant with $4.2 million. This grant will be used to nurture the YMCA’s goals and build on community change. YMCA credits Dr. Phillips Charities for contributing major support to its cause. Through this partnership, the Y has been able to impact over 235,000 children.
Dr. Phillips Charities awarded The Florida Real Estate Foundation with a $100,000 grant to honor military service men and women to aid construction of six family homes for disabled veterans in downtown Orlando.
MicheLee Puppets was the recipient of a $45,000 grant that will aid a production manager position. This will allow the organization to provide new programming in early childhood education.
Dr. Phillips Charities also awarded $500,000 to The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida to help out in the development of the third Ronald McDonald House in Central Florida.
Lastly, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded $31,000 for the third consecutive year to fund a free family concert in Loch Haven Park. 

Home At Last Stands on its Own
Home at Last, a special project of the West Orange Habitat for Humanity, is spinning off on its own to continue its mission of developing mortgage-free and disability-friendly homes for wounded and disabled veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now a new non-profit organization, Home At Last Project, Inc. has been equipped with handling all of the affairs of the program. Headquarters for the new corporation was set up in a small office located at 12200 W. Colonial Drive in Winter Garden.
Home At Last Project, Inc. strives to continue its previous goal of building homes in West Orange County as well as operate and develop homes in all areas of Central Florida. The change to a stand-alone organization will allow for so much more progress. So far, Home At Last has successfully finished and supplied mortgage-free homes to five disabled veterans and their families. The organization is currently in the process of providing a sixth home for Marine Sergeant Stephen Tovet and his wife Krystina with two additional homes planned in Oakland.
The staff that had a hand in preparing, constructing and fundraising for the first five houses will join together to oversee the new organization and are excited for its future. The team includes Bill Criswell, John Russo, Jim McQuillan, Bryan Butcher, DeLloyd Voorhees and Gary Atwill.

Pugsgiving Will Round Out Another Year

Pug Rescue of Florida will continue its tradition of celebrating all things pug with its 12th Annual Pugsgiving fundraiser this November. This event is the biggest celebration of pugs and rescues in the state of Florida and, this year, will be held at the Ramada Gateway Convention Center on November 1 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Family, friends and friendly dogs are welcome to attend.
Pugsgiving will include a variety of activities including a huge silent auction, raffles, door prizes, costume contests, free nail trimmings, a talent contest, pet portraits, pug games and more. New to the line-up this year are pug weddings, so if you know of any pugs looking to get hitched, this is their event. They can even win a full wedding party set up (bridesmaid dresses, tuxedos, and a beautiful dress-veil combination), a donation from a local seamstress.
On top of Pugsgiving being the biggest celebration of pugs in the area and the largest fundraising effort of the year by Pug Rescue of Florida, it also features the largest number of adoptable pugs in the state. These adorable pugs are looking for their forever homes this Pugsgiving. Pug Rescue of Florida works diligently to save 400 pugs and pug mixes each year.  
Volunteers are greatly needed for this event so people wishing to volunteer can complete the volunteer application through the rescue’s website.

Summer of Dreams Wraps Up its Fourth Summer Program
Summer of Dreams, a program dedicated to providing homeless children with much needed resources, has just concluded it fourth successful year. The program provided resources to 1,643 homeless children, a 12 percent increase from 2013, in Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties.
Fifth Third Bank is the originating sponsor of this 10-week program, which strives to supply children with food, academic and STEM growth, activities, school supplies, financial counseling and mentoring. By the end of the program, Summer of Dreams was able to provide 164,300 meals and was able to get 1,800 people to be present at Fifth Third Bank’s financial counseling seminars.
“Through this public-private partnership, Summer of Dreams has reached 5,573 children since 2011,” says Karen Dee, president of the Florida and Mid-South regions for Fifth Third Bank. “However, we know there are thousands more in our community who need help. That is why our partners have already begun planning for next summer. We will continue to support this program and are excited to see the positive impact it will have on even more local families in 2015.”
Summer of Dreams became a reality through the continuous efforts of local partners including Orlando After-School All-Stars, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Boy & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, A Gift for Teaching and Orlando Science Center and many other sponsors.
To keep the program alive and get a jump-start on next year’s program, donations will be accepted all year long in a variety of ways including donations through a workplace or Summer of Dream’s website.

Seminole State Awarded Grant to Build Solar Lab
Seminole State College has been awarded a $77,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to brainstorm and create a mobile solar-energy lab. The new lab will be designed with a variety of solar panels, have  “smart grid” technology, and will be able to display sustainable energy usage within day-to-day activities.
This grant will support Seminole State students taking a new class, Introduction to Solar Energy, who will build the lab and support other alternative energy courses. Besides giving students a hands-on experience, this new solar-energy lab will be brought to outreach events throughout Central Florida to bring awareness to solar developments and occupations in STEM.
“Duke Energy continues to explore new and innovative methods for promoting interest in science, technology, engineering, math and sustainability,” says Tricia Setzer, manager of government and community relations at Duke Energy. “We are excited to be a part of an opportunity to help bring these disciplines to life.”
Students at Seminole State who finish the solar course will qualify to sit for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practioners entry-level exam for certification purposes. Seminole State will also collaborate with Seminole County Public Schools to provide outreach programs and offer recruiting to high school students.
The new mobile solar-energy lab is still being designed and should be finished entirely in 2015.

Habitat for Humanity Wraps Up F.U.N. Project
More than 300 volunteers took part in painting the exteriors of 27 homes this past month. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando led the effort with Orange County’s Neighborhood Preservation and Revitalization Division to make the “Fixing Up the Neighborhood” (F.U.N.) project a huge success.
Members of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando spent a combined 1,800 hours to beautify homes in Washington Shores. Ninety percent of the re-painted homes belonged to seniors or disabled residents.

“For aging homeowners who can’t keep up with the maintenance of their home, we’re able to come in, provide much-needed makeovers, and simultaneously help re-instill a sense of pride about the neighborhood,” says Diane DiFebbo, board chair of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando Area and principal at CliftonLarsonAllen LLP.
The partnership project aligned both groups’ goals to redecorate homes and instill a sense of belonging in different communities. More collaborations to benefit Washington Shores may be in the works because of the positive response to the F.U.N. project.

UCF Faculty Nominated for Schwartz Tech Award
Sudipta Seal, an engineering professor and nanotechnology and materials expert, and Tom O’Neal, associate vice president for Research and Commercialization, have been nominated for the 2014 Schwartz Tech Awards. Seal and O’Neal are nominated for Researcher of the Year and Tech Community Champion, respectively. The awards recognize the work from researchers and leaders that are conducting cutting-edge research and enhancing products.
Seal has a streak of producing innovative technology since transferring from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California. His research and discoveries in environmental cleanup and health have led to honors from various organizations to the creation of three startup companies.
O’Neal is a trailblazer for entrepreneurial programs for tech in the Orlando community. His efforts have spawned two decades and include UCF’s Business Incubation Program, GrowFL, the economic gardening institute, and many others. Notably, the UCF Technology incubator was named “Incubator Network of the Year” in 2013 by the National Business Incubation Association. O’Neal’s positive influence in the Central Florida tech industry extends to GrowFL’s $2.33 billion contribution to the Florida economy.
The Orlando Economic Development Commission, Orlando Tech Association and Florida High Tech Corridor Council will be produced the awards program late last month at the Orchid Garden at Church Street Station. This is the 24th year the awards have been handed out.

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