SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – During the 10th annual Miracle Fest, the primary fundraising event for Ave Maria Preparatory School, Goodwill Manasota President & CEO Bob Rosinsky received the 2015 “Archangel Award.” This award honors an individual who has made great strides in advocating for those with special needs and is committed to improving the quality of life for others.
The 2014 Award recipient, Senator John McKay, helped present the award to Rosinsky while passing down an actual statue of Michael, the Archangel, starting a new tradition amongst award winners. Susan Nilon, owner of WSRQ Radio and host of “The Nilon Report,” served as event host and local singing star Christopher Eisenberg sang a touching rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly.”
“We are blessed to have people – Archangels – like John McKay and Bob Rosinsky, as they have helped us in countless ways,” said Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, founder and CEO of Ave Maria Preparatory School. “Bob has truly changed the lives of so many, and we are grateful for all of the great work he has done, and continues to do, for our community.”
Located in Myakka City, Ave Maria Preparatory School is the only grade 2-12 school for children and young adults with special learning needs in Sarasota, Manatee, Desoto and Hardee counties. The nonprofit school serves individuals ages 6-22 with issues including autism, Attention Deficit Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Tourette syndrome and bipolar disorders, helping students to receive a standard diploma.
Although many students at Ave Maria currently receive the McKay Scholarship – which provides, on average, half of the school’s tuition – the remaining balance can be difficult to cover. Many parents of students at Ave Maria face higher medical costs than other families and need financial assistance. Fundraisers are critical to the success of the school, and the annual Miracle Fest has been a way for local businesses and community leaders to lend support to this important and much-needed institution.
Speaking at the event was Billy Heinig, a student at Ave Maria Preparatory School who works for Goodwill Manasota as part of the Supported JobsPlus Program – which enables Goodwill to employ individuals with significant disabilities – and with the benefit of the partnership of the two nonprofit organizations. Since entering school at Ave Maria, Heinig has overcome his shyness and discovered his talents in math, and now serves as treasurer of the Student Council.
“Most people my age don’t have jobs and Goodwill has shown me how to work and be responsible,” said Heinig. “Mr. Rosinsky, we thank you for all you are doing for our school and for your team members at Goodwill. You really do deserve the Archangel Award because you stand up for students who have struggled and give them a chance for education and work.”
During his acceptance speech, Rosinsky noted how proud he is to be a part of the Goodwill tradition of helping people who might never have earned a degree, or secured a job, to achieve those very things. He pointed out that, in many countries the disabled are disregarded and offered no opportunity to achieve success whereas Goodwill looks at ability, not disability. He offered his thanks to the volunteer leadership and staff of Goodwill, and the teachers and families at Ave Maria, for their commitment to helping individuals with barriers to attain an education and have the opportunity to be productive members of society.
“I am so touched to receive this very special award. Senator McKay has been a great advocate for Ave Maria Preparatory School, and for the individuals in our community who face barriers and struggle with disabilities every day, and I am proud to be considered and chosen for this great honor,” said Rosinsky. “It has been a great partnership – we have watched students who might never hope to find a job excel and find a place they belong while earning a paycheck. Seeing that joy is reward enough, and that is why we do all that we do. I will treasure this award.”
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2014, Goodwill Manasota served more than 16,000 people, placed 680 people in jobs and assisted 520 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $81.3 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted 39 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota in essence belongs to this community, and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.