Children First volunteer Tom Cook was presented with the Be More Involved Mason Dixon Award for Volunteerism at the 15th annual WEDU Public Media Be More Awards. A steadfast supporter, Mr. Cook became a finalist in the volunteerism category after receiving an outpouring of online votes and was selected as the ultimate winner by Mason Dixon himself, “because just one person can make an extraordinary difference.”
For our children and families, that person is “Mr. Tom,” who has been volunteering for nearly a decade. The Head Start learners in our Purple Crayon classroom eagerly look forward to their “Tom Tuesday” visits, where you can find him reading stories, interacting with children in learning centers, or helping to dish out a delicious breakfast or lunch meal. As a stand-out volunteer, Mr. Cook gives generously of his time. His belief in education, giving back to the community, and sharing of knowledge with young people has brought direct impact to hundreds of children and families.
The WEDU Be More Awards was created by WEDU Public Media to help raise awareness for local nonprofits and their service to West Central Florida. Annually, the program helps introduce new donors, volunteers, and those in need of services to the worthy nonprofit organizations. The winning agencies are selected from a 16-county viewing area surrounding Tampa Bay.
Children First was also recognized as a finalist in three other categories, including the Be More Brilliant, Be More Relevant, and Be More Unstoppable 2020 Nonprofit of the Year awards. The agency was the 2019 winner of the Be More Unstoppable Award and was humbled for the chance to be recognized for the second year in a row. Children First is so proud to stand alongside such amazing members of the greater Tampa Bay community, all working toward a brighter future.
Children First CEO Philip Tavill said, “We are deeply grateful to WEDU PBS and the panel of anonymous judges, who spent weeks reviewing every application and submission, for recognizing our volunteer, Tom Cook, for his complete embodiment of the Children First mission and community goodwill. Our entire agency strives for excellence, knowing that more than 900 children and their families depend on us each year to help them find their pathway to success. I would like to thank our strong volunteer corps that help to keep the wheels turning every single day, the dedicated staff, who work hard to create a more unified community through their work of strengthening the most vulnerable children and families, our dedicated Policy Council, Board of Directors, Management Team, community of supporters, and all of the “behind-the-scenes” heroes who keep our mission at the forefront. Thank you to all who help Children First to “be More” every day!”
About Children First:
Founded in 1961 and ranked in the top 1% out of over 1,800 Head Starts nationwide, Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being. At 15 sites throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children ages birth to five years old from low-income families. Through Children First, the children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track. For more information, call (941) 953-3877 or go to childrenfirst.net.