SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Jo Rita Stevens was recently honored by the Office of Volunteer & Community Service (OVCS) division of the Department of Elder Affairs for her volunteer work as a Goodwill Ambassador and countless other organizations throughout the region.
Jo Rita began her 40+ years of volunteer service with Goodwill while she was a young mom staying home with her two children. Prior to moving to Sarasota approximately 20 years ago, Stevens was heavily involved in the Goodwill Service Guild in Indianapolis, the volunteer arm of the organization.
Throughout her involvement with Goodwill, Stevens learned about working with people who have disabilities, and Goodwill’s role in helping them achieve self-sufficiency. In 2014, Jo Rita was honored for her contributions to Goodwill and the community by being named as Goodwill Manasota’s Ambassador of the Year.
Jo Rita enjoyed a successful professional career in real estate in Indianapolis and Sarasota, where she worked for Coldwell Banker.
At 84 years of age, Stevens is active in a way that would exhaust others. Not only does she spend significant time with Goodwill Manasota, she also volunteers with Community Haven, Healthy Families and Kiwanis Club, serves as an advisor to the Sarasota High School Key Club, and serves as the Secretary of both the Board of Trustees at her church and for the Historical Society in Sarasota.
“I was surprised and honored after learning about this award. I never became involved to be recognized. I believe that every day there are new challenges and new people that you can do something for,” said Stevens. “My service with Goodwill made me passionate about giving back to the community – the work they do is so incredible. When people think of me, they’re going to think of Goodwill; we go hand in hand. Goodwill changes lives, and the organization has always had a huge impact on my life.”
According to Janine Rogers, director of the OVCS at the Department of Elder Affairs, the department identifies community partners, and recognizes and supports volunteerism by and for seniors across the State of Florida. The OVCS has included an intergenerational component of volunteer recognition to highlight the important connection of seniors and youth working together through community service.
“Ms. Stevens is a volunteer who has put her heart into serving her local community,” said Rogers. “We are proud to recognize her with the Volunteer Appreciation Award in honor of her lifelong commitment to Goodwill and her community. She has truly made a difference in the lives of others.”
Goodwill Ambassadors are people who have made a commitment to share the mission of Goodwill Manasota with the greater community by volunteering at events, speaking on its behalf, creating new fundraisers, and introducing Goodwill to their friends, family, and colleagues.
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.