Passion and altruistic dedication are just a couple of the traits shared by 75 volunteers who were recognized as “Unsung Heroes” at the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys’ annual luncheon.
The honorees include business executives, board members and volunteers who seem to have perfect attendance at board meetings, are the first and last volunteers to leave an event, and undoubtedly take on the most thankless (and often grueling) committee assignments because they are the ones who get the job done.
MARC House’s Gordon Ross summed up the “Unsung Hero” qualities perfectly while talking about Sue Harrison – MARC’s hero.
“She never asks, ‘When is it time to go home?’” Ross said. “She says, ‘What else can I do?’”
More than 23 percent of all Florida residents volunteer for nonprofits, donating an average of 31 hours per person. According to recent surveys, volunteerism is at its highest level in the U.S. since 2005. And the Florida Keys are no exception. In fact, the Florida Keys boast more non-profit organizations than most communities.
“This event allows the nonprofits to show gratitude to all of these wonderful volunteers who make valuable contributions of their time, energy, and talents, expecting nothing in return,” said CFFK President Dianna Sutton.
Sue Harrison, Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens
Sue Harrison joined the MARC Board in 2007, immediately joined the fundraising committee and currently serves as the committee chair.
“It’s a perpetual party for me,” she smiled a few days after wrapping the 20th Annual Master Chef’s Classic. “I love fundraising and hosting parties, but it’s really about the clients.”
Harrison’s devotion extends to her other organizations. As a member of the current Leadership Monroe County Class, she helping orchestrate a class project that she hopes will result in Class XXII adopting 14 MARC clients, so they can enjoy bowling or just lunch outside of the home.
When Sue is not photobombing, fundraising, or celebrating her birthday she and her husband Doug enjoy traveling across the continent in their RV.
Riet Steinmetz, Friends of Old Seven
A board member of both Friends of Old Seven and the Pigeon Key Foundation, Steinmetz coordinates every aspect of volunteer efforts for all FO7 events and the Pigeon Key Art Festival and is averaging eight events a year and more than 100 volunteers.
As a tour guide for the Pigeon Key Foundation, she is an expert on Henry Flagler and tells every tour that, “It is very important for the future generations that we preserve that bridge. It is an unmistakable feat of engineering, endurance and courage. Younger people need to learn about that.”
When she is not lending her talents to the bridge, or Pigeon Key, she volunteers at the Marathon Community Theater and the American Cancer Society.
Ray Rhash, Leadership Monroe County
As the president of Leadership Monroe County, Ray Rhash has the honor (and ability) to run a board that is made up entirely of “Type A” personalities.
“Its one of the best boards I have ever worked with,” Rash said. “I am encouraged by what we do, which is to provide education to business leaders that enables them to solve problems effectively.”
Rhash graduated as a member of Class XIII and then joined the board in 2010. He served as board treasurer when Manny Madruga was president.
“He has a passion for Leadership and really cares about it,” said Madruga. “We co-chaired the law and military session together he did a great job while the class had a really great time.”
Betsey Langan, Christina’s Courage Rape and Child Abuse Center
The Womankind grant writer, triathlete and all-around good gal Betsey Langan could have been nominated by several groups – but accepted on behalf of the no-frills 501-c3 after securing an $8,000 grant that does little more than pay for cleaning supplies, coffee, and snacks for children and women who have suffered physical and sexual abuse.
“Christina’s Courage is not like other organizations,” said Langan. “I feel like it’s a grassroots organization that emerged because of concerned law police officers did not want those who have suffered from abuse to be re-victimized after the assault.”
“Betsy is amazing because she is essential to the success of our board,” said CC President Linda Mixon. “She does everything imaginable for us including serving as our secretary. She is awesome.”
Vicki Walker, Good Health Clinic
Vicki Walker is a Big Kahuna – literally. Earlier this year she raised $16,000 for the Good Health Clinic (GHC) by hosting a cocktail party, wine tasting and a paddleboat ride.
“I like giving back to the community that has given me so much,” said the Centennial Bank Vice President, gushing over the work of the free Upper Keys healthcare clinic.
“They provide such a benefit that our people in the Upper Keys really need,” she added. “And there are a lot of people who live and work down here who do not have health care.”
GHC Executive Director Jennifer Rickmann said Walker went “above and beyond,” for fundraising and that is why the non-profit nominated her as the clinic’s first non-medical recipient.
Patricia “Trich” Worthington, United Way of the Florida Keys
United Way of the Florida Keys board treasurer Trich Worthington just finished an 18 month accounting “crusade” that enabled United Way of the Florida Keys’ to streamline their budget process. Last year the independent 501-c3 funded programs for 18 different organizations from the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter to KAIR and the Wesley House.
“United Way plays a very critical role in many non-profit agencies and the money stays in the Keys which is very important to me,” Worthington said. “This allows other agencies to fully leverage their funding.”
“Trich never hesitates to spend the time it takes to review the details and get it right,” said United Way President Margie Smith. “Her professional integrity is very high and she is the type of person who does what she says she is going to do.”
Trich and her husband Pete live in Marathon.
2014 Unsung Heroes
J. David Cooper Tropic Cinema
Sue Harrison Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens
Shirley Albury Matecumbe Historical Trust
Joy Brown Taylor Lower Keys League of Women Voters
Rusty Hodgdon Key West Writers Guild
Jon Allen Friends of the AIDS Memorial
Lisa Cowen Florida Keys SPCA
Dale Humphrey Florida Keys Outreach Coalition
Rev. Stephen Braddock Monroe County Homeless Services Continuum of Care
Judy Hadley Key West Fringe Theatre
Patti Johnson Key West Garden Club
Mary Taylor Friends of the Key West Library
Olatha Leggett Canon John H. Reece Scholarship Fund
Laura Dockery Historic Florida Keys Foundation
Riet Steinmetz Friends of Old Seven
Candy Block Boys and Girls Clubs of the Keys Area
Charlie Waite Helpline of the Florida Keys
Normand Gonsalves Upper Keys Christmas Project
Dottie Moses Last Stand
John Parce Navy League Key West Council
Allison Delashmit Samuel’s House
Teresa Condas Monroe County Education Foundation
Stephen Muffler Florida Keys Community College Foundation
Cynthia Foster American Red Cross
Ray Rhash Leadership Monroe County
Tom Butler Florida Keys Council of the Arts
Sheila Cantler Domestic Abuse Shelter
Betsey Langan Christina’s Courage Rape and Child Abuse Center
Chuck Brown AIDS Help
Mary Cruz Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys
Mary Lee Singer I Believe Foundation
Sherry Smith Wright Voices for Florida Keys Children
Carol Ann Hubbell Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition
Kitty Roberts St. Paul’s Church
Peter Rysman VNA & Hospice of the Florida Keys
Rodney Gullatte, Jr. Key West Rotary
Vicki Walker Good Health Clinic
Lynda Frechette Key West Players/Waterfront Playhouse
Mary Grusin Impromptu Classical Concerts
Layla Barr Key West Montessori Charter School
Marc Neilson Unity of the Keys Spiritual Center
Katherine Taffy Straughn Habitat for Humanity of Key West and Lower FL Keys
Cherre Marchak Metropolitan Community Church
Jody Troupe Sculpture Key West
Michael Philip Heron-Peacock Supported Living
Patricia Worthington United Way of the Florida Keys
Shani Green Womankind
Birchard Ohlinger Anchors Aweigh Club
Judge Rita Eaton Key West Woman’s Club
Stephanie Ford RPM Nautical Foundation
Scott Saunders Mote Marine Laboratory
Ruth Gunn Literacy Volunteers of America-Monroe County
Dr. Les Safer Keys Area Health Education Center
Patricia Cummings Old Island Restoration Foundation
Flora Rueda AARP Chapter 1351
James King American Legion Arthur Sawyer Post 28
Ross Elwel Red Barn Theatre
Richard Jabour Basilica School of St. Mary Star of the Sea
Kim T. Gordon Wesley House Family Services
Lois Taylor Key West Botanical Garden Society
Kathryn Van Aernum Save Our Pines
John “Ma” Evans One Human Family Foundation
Lisa Benfield Zonta Club of Key West
Carol Shaughnessy and
David Koontz Anne McKee Artists Fund
Gina and Porsche Maseratti Sister Season Fund
Michele Atkinson The Studios of Key West
Robert Leiby Florida Keys T.R.E.E. Institute
Ricky Jackson Key West Police Athletic League
Lisa McCarthy FKCC Keys Chorale
Stuart Bennett Key West Art and Historical Society
Suzanne Moore American Cancer Society
Kristie and Larry Metcalf Friends of Fort Taylor
Nina Locardi Educational Coalition for Monroe County
Priscilla Sullivan Coral City Elks Lodge #610 & Temple #400
Joe Liszka Key West Orchid Society