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  December Local Life  
  Community happenings in and around Central Florida.  

West Orange Committee Gives Back
At a recent Fall Social hosted by The West Orange Committee of One Hundred and One (C101), the organization’s immediate past president, David Sylvester, and current president, David Billsborough, presented 17 organizations in the West Orange community with contributions adding up to over $15,000.
Recipients of these funds included The Camaraderie Foundation, Bread of Life Fellowship, Dave’s House, Children’s Safety Village of Central Florida, Eti-Keys Training Group, Garden Theatre, Home at Last, Edgewood Children’s Ranch, Oakland Nature Preserve, Lighthouse Central Florida, Inc., Orange County Police Athletic League, Shine Performing Arts, S.T.A.R.S. of West Orange, Smiles for a Lifetime, West Orange Boy & Girls Club and Winter Garden Heritage Foundation and Women in the Arts.
“Each of these organizations make a significant impact to West Orange County and we (the West Orange C101) are proud to be able to support them and their efforts to enhance our community,” says Billsborough.
The committee’s mission is to raise and donate funds to local non-profit entities that positively contribute to the community. Membership is restricted to just 101 members, and those who demonstrate the most substantial and positive influence or leadership in West Orange County serve as members.

Veteran’s Club Sets Guinness World Record
More than 254 resident volunteers of the 55-plus Solivita community manufactured by AV Homes and veterans within the community joined together for a record-breaking afternoon in honor of Veteran’s Day. The group set the Guinness World Record for the longest dessert all in thanks to local businesses that donated tables, supplies and 317 half-gallon tubs of ice cream, courtesy of Publix.
The record-breaking 1,772-foot ice cream dessert spanned the length of Solivita’s Village Drive, beating out the previous Guinness World Record of almost 1,250 feet. After Guinness official Michael Emprie confirmed the record, participants made a donation for the opportunity to enjoy the sweet treat.
Proceeds from this five-day Solivita Salutes Our Veterans event will go to benefit the Osceola County chapter of Habitat for Humanity and the USO Central Florida. The event also featured a concert, 5k and 10K races and a golf tournament. 

United Way Hosts Collection Drive
This month, the Heart of Florida United Way is helping new mothers with its “Basics for Babies” supply drive. The drive will collect items to benefit at-risk motheres and infants in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.
The organization is asking individuals and companies to donate diapers, wipes, formula, new infant clothing ranging from size 0 to 24 months, new blankets, and books for children under the age of 2. Donations can be dropped off at the Heart of Florida United Way office in Orlando until December 3. Once the donations have been collected and assembled, representatives from the United Way will deliver care packages to families in need through partner agencies that include BETA Center, Harbor House of Central Florida, Salvation Army Orlando, Help Now of Osceola, Inc. and more.
Through the efforts of the organization and individuals in the community, it is hoped that all babies will have the necessary basics in their early years.

Florida Hospital Helps the Homeless
Last month, Lars Houmann, CEO and president of Florida Hospital, announced that Florida Hospital would commit $6 million over three years to address homelessness in the region. This is the largest, one-time private donation given to end chronic homelessness in Central Florida history and will change the way this population is care for and supported in the coming years.
“As individuals, we sometimes look away when we see a homeless person because the sight is painful,” Houmann says. “We can no longer do that. Businesses, hospitals and the community must unite around this issue. We all have a moral obligation to take a stand to end chronic homelessness.”
This announcement was made with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Central Florida Commission on Homelessness CEO Andrae Bailey in attendance. Mayor Jacobs also announced that she will be leading an in-depth discussion about Orange County’s plan to impact homelessness at a work session to be held on December 16. 

Winter Park Day Nursery Celebrates 75th Anniversary
More than 100 local community and business leaders gathered at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce’s Welcome Center in October to celebrate Winter Park Day Nursery’s 75 years of contribution to the education of Central Florida children. The independent non-profit preschool for young children of citrus packinghouse employees has nurtured and educated the community’s children while providing opportunities to working families that they might not otherwise have.
Winter Park Day Nursery’s 75th anniversary birthday party featured food, drinks and desserts from local businesses along with informational displays highlighting the school’s history and teaching philosophy. During the event, the nursery announced that donations to its program through December 31 would be eligible for a generous dollar-to-dollar match from the Galloway Foundation, a long-time supporter of the organization.
“We are so pleased by the outpouring of support we received in celebration of our milestone birthday as well as the community’s embrace of our mission throughout our long history,” says Executive Director Alessandra DeMaria.
The preschool has impacted the lives of more than 12,000 children and helped prepare them for kindergarten with nationally recognized early childhood curriculum, healthy meals, outdoor play, and positive behavioral and family support services.

Welcome to the World Project Launches
The Twelve Gifts of Birth Foundation, a charitable and good works foundation that advances the well being of children and strengthens families, announced a Welcome to the World project that provides a birth keepsake and conscious parenting tool as a hospital take-home gift for new mothers. The first hospital to participate and receive the keepsake is Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies in Orlando.
In coordination with the 25th birthday of Arnold Palmer Medical Center, 14,000 keepsakes were given to the hospital based on the estimated number of babies who will be born there with twelve months. “We are delighted to provide this beautiful birth keepsake to our patients,” says Sheila Bystrak, chief operating officer at Winnie Palmer Hospital. “And pleased to be the only hospital in Central Florida who will be offering this supportive tool to new parents. The response so far has been heartwarming.”

The keepsakes are designed to encourage parents to nurture the inner strength, courage, compassion, joy, hope, imagination and other natural gifts in their children. This is accomplished through a congratulatory letter, a Ways to Nurture the Gifts in Your Child mini poster, and a Twelve Gifts Birth Certificate. The project also includes a method through which participating hospitals can receive on-going donations from The Twelve Gifts of Birth Foundation.

Kids Beating Cancer Expands Services
Kids Beating Cancer, an organization that provides resources and support for families of children diagnosed with cancer and 80 other life threatening diseases, presented a $500,000 check to Florida Hospital for Children to launch the Kids Beating Cancer Family Food Program. The donation was presented during the unveiling of the Kids Beating Cancer Pediatric Transplant Center Donor Wall and the John Robert Voight Sculpture.
The donor wall recognizes donors who have committed more than $100,000 to Kids Beating Cancer and the Florida Hospital Foundation to support the Pediatric Transplant Program. The John Robert Voight sculpture is dedicated to one child’s dream, the motivation that inspired Margaret Voight Guedes to establish Kids Beating Cancer in memory of her son, John, who lost his battle with leukemia as a child.
The Family Food Program provides vouchers for families, allowing them to order food and eat with their child in the Kids Beating Cancer Pediatric Transplant Center or in one of the hospital cafeterias. “We are always humbled by the overwhelming support for the Kids Beating Cancer Pediatric Transplant Center at Florida Hospital for Children and grateful for the community that allows us to continue this life saving work,” says Margaret Guedes, founder of Kids Beating Cancer.
Kids Beating Cancer pledged $1 million to Florida Hospital for Children’s new Pediatric Stem Cell Transplantation program in 2011 to fund pre-transplant testing not covered by insurance. In appreciation for the partnership, Florida Hospital for Children named the 8-bed unit the Kids Beating Cancer Pediatric Transplant Center.

UCF Professor Focused on Suicide Prevention
UCF assistant professor of social work, Kim Gryglewicz, is the program director for a $3.68 million expansion of suicide-prevention services for children, teenagers and young adults in Florida.
The new Florida Linking Individuals Needing Care project was made possible by a five-year grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Gryglewicz will be collaborating with the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention, Florida Council for Community Mental Health and University of South Florida. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Florida alone, 765 people ages 10 to 24 died from suicide from 2011 to 2013, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Florida Council for Community Mental Health will distribute 85 percent of the funds to central, northeast and southeast Florida to implement suicide prevention programs and these regions will benefit directly from this program. “Our goal is to save lives,” says Gryglewicz, a co-principal investigator for the grant who implemented other SAMHSA-funded suicide-prevention programs. “We want to be sure that youth and families are getting the services they need.”
Florida LINC will focus on the needs of people ages 10 to 24 who have an increased risk for depression and suicidal thoughts, and their families too. The project will also target youth in foster care, military families, survivors of suicide attempts and loss, young adults not in school and more.

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