Members of Friends For Florida presented $650 to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to help care for its rescued sea turtles. The group, composed of middle school students from Pasco and Hillsborough counties, was started by friends who wanted to raise awareness about environmental issues.
Friends For Florida, founded in 2007 by the Mark family of Lutz, raised money through garage sales, lemonade stands, recycled aluminum cans and donations that will help pay for medical supplies for sea turtles at the aquarium.
"We truly appreciate selfless individuals such as these who help us take care of our sea turtles," said Danielle O'Neil, the aquarium's sea turtle manager. "We couldn't do what we do without them."
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YMCA volunteers from Citrus, Hernando, Pasco and Pinellas counties who tirelessly work to improve their communities were honored during the YMCA of the Suncoast's annual meeting and volunteer celebration in March.
"Volunteers perform countless acts of service and are one of our most valuable assets," said G. Scott Goyer, president and CEO of the YMCA of the Suncoast. "People who volunteer are not only giving back to their community but they find personal fulfillment in their work as well, helping them grow in spirit, mind, and body. And there is scientific evidence that volunteering can improve your overall health."
Those honored for displaying outstanding service to the YMCA in 2009 were Pat and Charlotte Dello Iacono, Ron Lieberman, Shardee McBride, Claire Alexis Lewellen, Chase Thomas Lewellen, James Seeley, Geneva Waters, Henry C. Choate, Jane Dustin, Christine Ho, Sarah Lansmann, Melannie Colon, Patti Haberer, Shirnetta Threats, Justin Dunham, Dick Klima, Kaitlyn Suiters, Marissa Kase, Kimberly Castendyk, Kyra Sweeney, Julita Pugh, Rachael Sabba, Charles A. Gellert and Jeffrey Cloud.
Donna Gosnell of Hernando County and Edward BeBe Hobson of the Greater Ridgecrest community in Largo received the YMCA's Chairman's Awards, an honor presented to those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to move the YMCA mission forward.
"Volunteerism is truly the heart of the YMCA mission and movement, connecting local Ys to their identity as associations to belong to — rather than as places to buy services," Goyer said. "That quality is one of the characteristics that make Ys special, setting us apart from other organizations that offer similar services."
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Clearwater finance director Margie Simmons presented a special award received by her department to the Clearwater City Council at the April 13 meeting at City Hall. The presentation officially recognized Clearwater's Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
The Government Finance Officers Association in Chicago announced that Clearwater had received the award, the nation's highest form of recognition for governmental accounting and financial reporting. While the honor is a significant accomplishment for the city, it is also the 30th year Clearwater has earned it.
"The governing body and the taxpayers of Clearwater can take pride that this document has been judged one of the best in its class," Simmons said. "This award also reflects the expertise, high degree of professionalism, and many hours of hard work by the staff who prepared the report."
Citizens are invited to view the report online at myclearwater.com/gov/depts/finance.
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