SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – On Wednesday, October 7, Goodwill Manasota hosted its 5th annual Goodwill Ambassador of the Year Awards Dinner at Michael’s On East in Sarasota. The event, emceed by Lulu from 106.5 CTQ, drew nearly 350 guests to honor five Goodwill Ambassadors and the 2015 Goodwill Employee of the Year.
The program began with the invocation by Rev. Art McClellan and then a beautiful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” on violin by Booker High School junior and Goodwill Youth Ambassador Sommer Altier. Then Goodwill Foundation vice president Veronica Brandon Miller presented each of the 2015 Ambassadors of the Year their awards: Phil Mancini and Michael Klauber, co-proprietors of Michael’s On East; Rep. Greg Steube, who serves House District 73 in the Florida House of Representatives; Sharon Hillstrom, president and CEO of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation; and the late Rick Fawley, former president of Fawley Bryant-Architecture, Interiors and Design and well-loved community leader – his longtime friend and business partner Mike Bryant accepted the award on his behalf, and local performing artist Christopher Eisenberg sang “I Believe I Can Fly” in tribute to Fawley’s memory.
During the event, the “Rick and Coni Fawley Scholarship Fund” was launched. Funds will help Goodwill team members who do not have their high school diploma to earn their GED. Bryant stunned the dinner guests by announcing a $50,000 pledge to the fund; he brought a check from his 86-year-old mother as well.
Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky noted that approximately 40 percent of Goodwill’s employees do not have their degree and that this fund will help them to reach their education and career goals.
“Education is the gift that keeps on giving,” Rosinsky said. “Just like the time we were privileged to spend with Rick – it was a gift.”
Leonzo Gonzalez was honored as Employee of the Year. Gonzalez was severely injured nearly a decade ago when he was hit by a drunk driver, spending four months in a coma and more than a year in the hospital. He is now completely blind but is able to – once again – support his family through full-time employment at Goodwill.
Honoree Phil Mancini, who conceived the idea for Goodwill’s extremely popular Mardi Gras event, which has helped to raise over $1 million for the organization over the last decade, noted that while it’s fun to make money, it’s also fun – and meaningful – to give it away. “It’s not what you get, it’s what you give that makes a community flourish,” he said.
Mancini’s business partner and co-honoree Michael Klauber echoed that sentiment. “My father always said, ‘Make someone’s life better every day’ and I think Goodwill epitomizes that,” he said.
To make a gift to the Rick and Coni Fawley Scholarship Fund, go to experiencegoodwill.org or call (941) 355-2721.
PHOTO ID: (From l-r) Mistress of Ceremonies LuLu from 106.5 CTQ, Goodwill Manasota Foundation vice president Veronica Brandon Miller, honorees Philip Mancini, Sharon Hillstrom and Michael Klauber, Employee of the Year Leonzo Gonzalez, honoree Rep. Greg Steube, Mike Bryant, who accepted the award on behalf of the late Rick Fawley, and Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky | Photo by Cliff Roles
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.