PORT RICHEY, Fla. (March 18, 2016) — Sydney Payne will graduate from Anclote High School in Holiday, Fla., this June. St. Leo University in nearby Dade City has accepted the Advanced Placement student to begin classes this fall, which would make her the first in her family to attend college. She works part-time at an ice cream parlor in Tarpon Springs, but Payne needs financial support to make her college dream a reality.
While Payne has been going to school, working, volunteering and serving as historian of her school’s Interact Club – as well as pursuing her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) licenses – Aileen Carlson was searching for a deserving local candidate for Watermark for Kids.
Carlson is executive director of The Watermark at Trinity, a new assisted living and memory care community in Pasco County’s Trinity suburb opening in April. Watermark for Kids is a national nonprofit associated with Watermark Retirement Communities, which manages 38 communities throughout the U.S, including their latest, The Watermark at Trinity.
Carol Ciadella, Payne’s former teacher at Gulfside Elementary School in Holiday, recommended Payne to receive support from Watermark for Kids. The nonprofit is committed to empowering underserved kids from ages 6 through 22 to express their character, leadership, creativity, compassion and spirit.
“Sydney is an incredible young person who has thrived despite many obstacles that could have deterred her from following the right path,” said Ciadella. “Being chosen as a Watermark Kid rewards this young person for doing the right thing and becoming a successful, responsible member of our community.”
On March 15, Watermark for Kids awarded Payne with two new pairs of prescription eyeglasses, a $300 Target gift card, and funds to cover her car insurance for six months and her books this fall.
“Sydney is a shining example of a Watermark Kid,” said Carlson. “We are so proud to support her in her efforts to continue her education and live up to the true greatness of her potential.”
Payne, who has volunteered more than 250 hours as a teacher’s assistant in Ciadella’s classroom, wants to be an elementary school teacher after finishing college.
“I have high hopes for my future,” Payne said. “I know I can make a difference in the world. Even if it’s only for a handful of students, I know I can create a better future for generations to come.”
Since 2011, Watermark for Kids has honored nine other kids in the greater Tampa Bay area in partnership with The Watermark at Trinity’s sister properties The Fountains at Boca Ciega Bay in St. Petersburg and The Fountains at Lake Pointe Woods in Sarasota. Awards ranged from art, music and dance lessons to funds to cover books and supplies for college.
About Watermark for Kids
Watermark for Kids is a national non-profit organization whose vision is to help deserving local kids thrive. Funds are raised through payroll deductions and fundraising projects spearheaded by residents and associates of 38 Watermark retirement communities nationwide. In return, Watermark Kids are asked to “pay it forward” by mentoring others and vowing to help another youth in their own unique way. To learn more visit www.watermarkforkids.org.
About Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc.
In 2015, the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA) ranked Tucson-based Watermark Retirement Communities as the thirteenth largest senior housing operator in the U.S. Watermark’s commitment to creating extraordinary communities where people thrive dates back over 25 years to when it opened its first retirement community in 1987. A privately held company with a reputation of service, success, growth, integrity and financial stability, Watermark Retirement Communities manages 38 retirement communities coast to coast. To learn move visit www.watermarkcommunities.com.