For the first time since 2019, Goodwill Manasota recognized advocates and leaders in the areas of veterans services, philanthropy and community partnership at its Community Ambassador of the Year Awards during a luncheon held Oct. 12 at Michael's on East.
“We were so thrilled to bring back this event, which recognizes those in the community whose contributions of time, resources, expertise and passion for helping others have enabled our organization to expand our mission impact,” said Goodwill Manasota President and CEO Donn Githens. “We could not succeed in our social enterprise operations without the leadership, support and collaboration of people and organizations like those we honored today.”
The veterans honoree is U.S. Navy veteran Rob Kehs, who served 1985-1989 as a jet engine mechanic. He is the current president of SRQ Vets.
Sarasota Private Trust Co., New York Private Bank & Trust Co. and the Milstein Family is the philanthropy honoree in recognition of the group’s $1 million donation to assist those impacted by Hurricane Ian. Goodwill was the pass-through agency for the gift, which was used to purchase gift cards and subsidize Goodwill vouchers for individuals and families severely impacted by the storm.
The community partner honoree isw Easterseals Southwest Florida, which collaborates with Goodwill on initiatives to assist those with disabilities in finding and retaining employment. The organizations also recently began working together to help area veterans through the equine assisted learning program, Operation1Stride.
Finally, Goodwill presented its inaugural Robert W. Rosinsky Achievement Award – “The Rosy” — to team member Dora Talamantes. In her acceptance speech, Talamantes said during her job search, “I knocked on many doors but only Goodwill opened their doors to me.”
Since she began working for Goodwill, Talamantes has learned to speak English, has become an American citizen, and risen from an entry-level job to become a store manager.