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Community Fund gives out grants

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  • | 4:00 a.m. October 26, 2011
Lakewood Ranch Community Fund President-elect Diane Brune gives a $3,500 check to Joyce Scott of Catholic Charities/Our Mother’s House.
Lakewood Ranch Community Fund President-elect Diane Brune gives a $3,500 check to Joyce Scott of Catholic Charities/Our Mother’s House.
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LAKEWOOD RANCH — B.D. Gullett Elementary School Guidance Counselor Monica Rice couldn’t stop smiling Oct. 21 as members of the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund handed her a check for more than $3,000.

The monies will pay for a twice-a-week Power Hour tutoring program at the school.

“We’ve seen how students’ reading has improved because of the opportunity to offer this program,” Rice said, noting the school has no other funding for Power Hour. “Many of them need this extra help.”

Members of the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund Oct. 21 handed out $64,000 to 19 local nonprofits, including Gullett Elementary, during a ceremony at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

Grant amounts ranged from $500 to $6,000, and each donation went to support nonprofit services within Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding area. The grant selection process focused on applications that targeted education, health or human services.

“It’s always difficult when there are so many outstanding grant applications,” said Dr. Dick Wharton, who chaired the grant selection process. “We look for overall excellence of the application, demonstration of need and meaningfulness for the greater and Lakewood Ranch community. This year we were able to give out a little more (than last year).”

Nineteen of 37 grant applicants were selected for funding. Last year, the fund awarded 13 grants, Wharton said.

Organizations such as Cancer Support Community Florida Suncoast, B.D. Gullett Elementary and Easter Seals earned grants yet again, while others, such as Mote Marine Laboratory and Willis Elementary School, were awarded grants for the first time.

Joyce Mahler, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast, said the $5,000 her organization received is essential for funding a one-on-one mentoring program for middle school students that aids in dropout prevention.

“It’s critical,” Mahler said of the grant. “Every dollar that comes in from the community is critical to what we do. We’re not a fee-for-service program.”

The Lakewood Ranch Community fund was established in 2000 as a donor-advised program under the umbrella of the Manatee Community Foundation; it distributed its first grants in 2002. To date, the organization has presented about $700,000 in grants.

For more information on the Community Fund, visit

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

Delaney named Humanitarian of the Year
During a grant awards ceremony Oct. 21, the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund also named Bob and Billie Delaney as recipients of the C. John A. Clarke Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Bob Delaney, retired NBA referee, author and police investigator, has traveled overseas and nationally to speak with military members about post-traumatic stress disorder, among his other humanitarian contributions.

Upon accepting the award, Delaney thanked U.S. military members for their willingness to sacrifice their lives, and he commended his wife, Billie, for her support.

“Without her, I would not be accomplishing (all of this),” Bob Delaney said. “It’s really an honor to have that recognition together today.”

“Whenever you receive those awards that are displayed in your hometown, they are reminders to use whatever talents you have to benefit others,” he said. “What the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund does is provide opportunity for others to continue helping others. We’re honored.”

Prior recipients of the award include John Clarke, Don O’Leary, Pat Neal, Dick and Lorraine Vitale, Darrell Turner and Stuart J. Roth.

Click here to see all the grant recipients.


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