SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Approximately 100 guests gathered at Renaissance on 9th in Bradenton for the Ave Maria Miracle Fest Celebration and Archangel Awards Dinner, the primary fundraising event for Ave Maria Preparatory School. During the event, Goodwill Manasota vice president Margie Genter received the 2016 “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 and 2015 Award recipients, Senator John McKay and Goodwill president and CEO Bob Rosinsky, were in attendance as Genter was honored. Special guest at the event was Joy Weston, internationally published best-selling author; emcee was Veronica Brandon Miller, Goodwill Manasota Foundation vice president. Guests also enjoyed dinner and live and silent auctions.
“We are blessed to have Archangels like Margie, as they have helped us in countless ways,” said Sister Gilchrist Cottrill, founder and CEO of Ave Maria Preparatory School. “Margie has helped us to develop our work and diploma partnership with Goodwill; facilitated our Garden of the Heart yoga program, which helps our students with sensory integration; and guided us during every step of our accreditation process through the Association of Independent Schools of Florida. More importantly, she has visited our school on numerous occasions and shown an interest in our students and their growth. She is most deserving of the Archangel Award.”
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. (Go to www.amuprep.org for more information on the school.)
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 Christian Cole, the current president of the Ave Maria student government. Cole discussed his experience at the school, and thanked Genter for leading him there – she had encouraged him to get his high school diploma before getting a job.
“I am so touched to receive this very special award, and proud to work on behalf of individuals in our community who face barriers and struggle with disabilities every day,” said Genter. “The partnership of Goodwill and Ave Maria has benefited so many: we have watched students who may never have dreamed of finding a job excel and discover a place they belong while earning a paycheck. While I am thrilled to have been selected for this honor, seeing the joy of these students as they travel on the path to achieving their life goals is reward enough.”
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 2015, Goodwill Manasota served 22,739 people, placed 961 people in jobs and assisted 358 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 41 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.