Growing up in Wisconsin, Sandy Humenik didn’t always have help from her mother, Elaine Maslakow, when trying to finish her homework.
Her mother attended school through the sixth grade, so she couldn’t answer her homework questions, but she sat at the table while Humenik did her homework to ensure it was completed.
“What she instilled in us was the discipline to get homework done and let us know that she was right beside us and caring for us,” Humenik said. “I think in some cases children don’t always have that in their environment. They’re not lucky to have a parent that kind of coaches and nurtures them.”
When Humenik was introduced to the Florida Center for Early Childhood, she knew she wanted to make a difference in children’s lives.
After three years of volunteering for the Florida Center for Early Childhood, the center is recognizing Humenik as the 2020 Volunteer Champion for Children during a virtual Champions for Children Breakfast April 6.
The center originally scheduled the breakfast for April 2 but made the event virtual as a result of COVID-19.
Humenik’s first reaction to hearing she was the Volunteer of the Year was “I didn’t do that much,” but Kristen Theisen, the center’s chief development officer, reminded her of all she’s accomplished while volunteering for the organization.
“Sandy has been a tireless agency advocate,” Theisen said. “She goes the extra mile whenever possible, helping with fundraising events, working to increase awareness and lending her marketing and design skills. She truly gives her all and is so deserving of this award.”
Humenik is honored to be the 2020 Volunteer Champion for Children and was never rendered more speechless than when Theisen told her about the recognition.
Humenik started volunteering for the center three years ago when she moved to Lakewood Ranch with her husband, Mike, and toured the center.
“I always said that at some point when I was able to not work a full-time grind of a job like I had, I would want to do something that benefitted children,” Humenik said. “When I came to the center and saw what they did and learned more … I just knew I had to help them in any way I could to get more people involved.”
Kathryn Shea, the center’s president and chief executive officer, said the organization is “fortunate to have an early childhood champion” like Humenik.
“Sandy is very committed to our mission of building strong children and families through developmental services,” Shea said. “We are very grateful for her time and talents.”
Humenik’s goal for this year is to expand the center’s reach farther into Lakewood Ranch and the Bradenton area by raising awareness of the center and encouraging people to become involved with the center.
“As a volunteer, you always think you could have done this or you could have done that or I could have done more because you want to help and make all those little children be able to have the best possible lives they can lead and have the best and strongest families they’re able to have as well,” Humenik said.