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  July Local Life  
  Community happenings in and around Central Florida.  

SeaWorld Saves

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. announced a $1.5 million commitment over three years to a new partnership with The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program. This support is part of SeaWorld’s $10 million pledge to fund conservation and research efforts for killer whales in the wild and is the largest private commitment of its kind.
The program focuses on three strategies: improving habitat quality, increasing prey availability, and strengthening management through research. The NFWF plans to match this commitment through public and private dollars. “Killer whales are amazing animals and, as a species at the top of the food chain, they play a key role in the health of the ocean ecosystem,” says Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “We are excited to partner with SeaWorld, a company with a long-term commitment to conservation efforts, in this critical effort to help restore the populations of killer whales found in the Pacific Northwest.”
Multiple killer whale projects are already underway through funding from the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund as part of SeaWorld’s $10 million commitment.

YMCA HealthierLifeRX Initiative
The United Health Foundation gave a $1.7 million grant to The YMCA of Central Florida to support its HealthierLifeRX initiative. The first of its kind in Florida, this health care pilot program focuses on improving wellness, preventing disease and decreasing health care costs.

HealthierLifeRX is a one-of-a-kind approach to wellness and care coordination among physicians, patients and lifestyle coaches in a lower-cost, community-based setting. Through self or physician referral, patients enrolled in the HealthierLifeRX program will have access to evidence-based programs that include information on disease prevention, weight management and exercise, and chronic disease management.
Cloud-based technology engages patients and lifestyle coaches and encourages patients to reach health goals through physical activity. The grant is part of the United Health Foundation’s “Helping Build Healthier Communities” program, which provides vital resources to nonprofits across the country to improve people’s overall health. Of the partnership, Dan Wilcox, CEO of YMCA of Central Florida, says, “Together, we will significantly improve the health of our community and, ultimately, help make progress in lowering health care costs for employers and consumers.”

JFS Pantry Restock Challenge
The 2nd annual JFS Orlando Pantry Restock Challenge raised food donation numbers by more than 20 percent from last year. Presented by the Weiner family and Winter Park Wealth Group, the challenge collected more than 8,000 pounds of nonperishable food items and raised more than $16,000 from March 2 – April 30.
The Weiner Family and Winter Park Wealth Group matched 25 cents for every dollar or pound of food donated, up to $5000. All items and funds collected during the challenge benefitted the JFS Orlando Pearlman Emergency Pantry.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the outcome of this year’s Pantry Restock Challenge,” says JFS Orlando’s Executive Director, Eric Geboff. “We could not have done it without the support of the Weiner Family, Winter Park Wealth Group and members of the Central Florida community.”
JFS Orlando provided more than 75,000 meals to Central Floridians in need in 2014.  They are on track to provide a similar number of meals in 2015.

Supporting Local Military Members
Heart of Florida United Way recently launched Mission United, an initiative that connects military members and their families with resources in the areas of education, employment and legal assistance. Tommy Boroughs, partner, Holland & Knight, and Mission United co-chair, says the program will connect the dots, fill in the gaps, and ensure that each veteran has access to the most appropriate service for their specific needs.
Rather than getting lost in the confusing communication web that they must currently navigate for assistance, military members can utilize Heart of Florida United Way’s free information and referral helpline, 2-1-1. This central access point will provide veterans and their families with an immediate connection to case management and navigation services that will identify and facilitate connection to community resources and assistance programs. 
During the kick-off event last month, Lockheed Martin presented a $10,000 check to Heart of Florida United Way’s Mission United, and local veteran Kyle Evans shared his story about transitioning back into civilian life after returning from two tours in Iraq with injuries. He says, “This Mission United program has great potential, but it can only succeed with collaboration.”

New Park to Honor Fallen Hero
Orange County’s Parks and Recreation Division recently broke ground on the Deputy Brandon Coates Community Park with community leaders, members of the law enforcement community, and family members of Deputy Coates on hand. The park was officially dedicated to the memory of Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy First Class Brandon Lee Coates, who perished in the line of duty in 2010.
Virginia Coates Ricks, the widow of Deputy Coates, greeted attendees as they arrived. “I am so grateful this park was dedicated to my husband. This is now a place where kids can come and ask their parents who Brandon Coates was, and when they answer, his heroic story will live on,” she says. “Let us never forget any of the law enforcement officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
The mile-wide property is located at 12998 Deertrace Avenue between John Young Parkway and Orange Blossom Trail. It will include two multi-sports fields, a playground, walking path, exercise course, concrete skate spot, picnic pavilion, restrooms and paved parking. The project is expected to be complete in January 2016.

Active Rotarians
Members of the Dr. Phillips Rotary Club have been busy in the community. The Rotary recently supported local education, as well as the Rotary International Literacy Program, by donating $600 to Dr. Phillips Elementary School. The donation was an overall award to the 50 elementary students who qualified for the School-wide Reading Literacy program. The students were honored at an awards luncheon at Barnes & Noble bookstore. Each child qualified for the award by reading 15 books and passing a comprehensive test on each book within a specific time frame.
In addition, Rotary President Ross Marvin recognized fellow Rotarian, Bruno Portigliatti, with The Club Builder Award. To achieve this award, Portigliatti had to recruit at least five active Rotarians at the time of nomination, participate in Rotary training in the club, participate in at least one meaningful club-level work service project, and attend at least two district meetings in the immediate three years prior to nomination. He was presented the award at the district conference and was the only winner from the club’s district.

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