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Volunteer Spotlight

Published Oct. 2, 2005


A BRIEF HISTORY: The Epilepsy Services Foundation was formed in 1973 and handled all programs and services until Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida was formed in 1992. The foundation became the fund-raising arm of the organization.

WHAT THE AGENCY DOES: The agency serves 1,700 clients a year with medical help and services for needy people. Most people with epilepsy cannot get insurance. The agency also tests and provides financial help for medical care and treatment. Agency workers do counseling in case management and provide employment training and placement. They also take care of half the cost for sending children ages 6 to 16 to Boggy Creek Camp near Orlando for a week each summer.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Thomas Orth, 54, has been the executive director for 10 years. He earned a master's degree of divinity at St. Frances Seminary in Milwaukee and a master's degree in counseling at St. Louis University. Previously he was executive director of Tampa Crossroads. His salary is $49,000.

WHERE THE MONEY GOES: In 1996 the agency took in $250,000 from the Department of Children and Families, $100,000 from United Way of Hillsborough County and Central Florida, $21,000 from Hillsborough County, $60,000 from individual contributions and fund-raisers, $15,000 from a contract with Tampa General Hospital for case-management services and $300,000 in in-kind services from doctors and laboratories. Expenses were: $113,000 in salaries and administrations, $500,000 for medical programs and case management, $60,000 for employment programs, $80,000 for prevention and education, $7,000 for the camp and $9,000 for fund raising.

WHAT VOLUNTEERS DO: They serve on the board of directors and help with fund-raising events, including the upcoming Jingle Bell Jazz at Old Hyde Park Village from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 3. Volunteers will staff the concession stands. They will also help with gift wrapping at Old Hyde Park on weekends beginning Nov. 27 through Christmas Day. Tips received for the free gift wrapping will benefit the foundation. Other fund-raisers that volunteers participate in are the Hare Racing Experience Run scheduled for April 11; Tampa Association of Life Underwriters Golf Classic, May 1; Old Hyde Park Live Music series, May 27; and the Epilepsy Transbay Cup, June 14. Volunteers also work at the annual Easter Egg Hunt for clients and at the annual Christmas party.

ONE VOLUNTEER: Victor Gittens, 55, has been a volunteer for seven years. "I wanted to give something back to the community," Gittens said. "It is a well-run important agency _ one I could support." Gittens, a domestic crisis intervention specialist, serves on the board of directors and at fund-raisers.