HAINES CITY, FL – There is no question that journalism can make a difference, but one Polk County media outlet has become much more.
Now known as Compassionate Hearts UNITED Foundation, Inc., the media company is a nonprofit that is dedicated to not only informing the public but getting out in the community.
Founded in July 2019 by Marielys Camacho-Reyes, a veteran of the U.S. Army, the media outlet has come a long way in a short period of time.
Originally the Northeast Polk Gazette, the company launched its first monthly print edition in July 2019. It was approved as a 501(c)(3) the following month.
The monthly newspaper now goes by the Compassionate Hearts Gazette and features its charitable work as well as community events and news, the work of other nonprofits, high-performing students, columns and more.
Since March 2020, the Haines City-based nonprofit has taken on its own causes as a full-fledged charity with the goal of making a difference in the community.
“As a local media outlet, our job is to be the eyes and ears of as well as a voice for the community,” said Marielys Camacho-Reyes, the founder of the nonprofit and Haines City’s 2019 Veteran of the Year. “After getting to know this community, I felt like we could be more than just that. I felt like we could be part of its heartbeat.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the area in the spring, Camacho-Reyes saw residents lose jobs, access to food and more. From there, Compassionate Hearts took on an initiative called “Meals for Our Friends” to help feed the community.
With collaboration from other nonprofits and local businesses, Compassionate Hearts UNITED Foundation helped provide meals to families in need. When it came to projects, that was only the beginning.
With a heart for students, the nonprofit has several other initiatives, including “Back to School Backpacks Giveaway” which provides supplies to students returning to school. For college students, Compassionate Hearts has two projects that helps with tuition – the “Door to Success” project and an essay contest to earn the “Edwin Steve Memorial Scholarship.”
The latest effort from Compassionate Hearts UNITED Foundation is an initiative called “Food for Our Furry Friends” which will provide toys and food for local pet shelters. Donations will be taken until Sept. 12. Those who donate can be eligible for a pet gift basket donated by Cielo Gift Baskets to be raffled off live on Facebook on Sept. 14.
“I’ve lived and seen places all around the world, but I am proud to now call Northeast Polk County home,” Camacho- Reyes said. “It feels great to be part of a close-knit community. When it comes to serving this community, we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can accomplish.”
To get involved, subscribe to the monthly newspaper, donate, or to learn more about Compassionate Hearts UNITED Foundation, visit www.chufinc.org.