ISF staff donate much of their free time to activities benefiting worthy causes throughout the community. Our Staff Spotlight highlights one such individual and his or her personal dedication to a cause.
ISF Client Partner Duane Daunt has volunteered as a youth soccer coach for over 20 years, giving back to the sports community that he enjoyed being a part of when he was growing up. In 1993, Duane started coaching soccer for various age groups from children under eight years old all the way up to high school. He explains that one of his favorite parts about coaching is “seeing a player dedicate their time, and seeing that player being rewarded for that dedication, over time.”
This idea isn’t just positive thinking; it’s supported by research as well. In a 2012 study of the value of youth sports, Psychology Today reported that one of the most positive aspects of youth sports is the sense of continuity that they provide, giving children a way to approach difficult circumstances that they will encounter. Within their sports activities, players’ “commitment over time facilitates the likelihood that children will overcome challenges and obstacles in their performance.”
Duane reports experiencing the positive effects of this commitment as it translates into the lives of the players as well, calling the connection between coaching and building a strong local community “absolutely vital.” He comments on the community spirit present in his own soccer community: “One of the main draws to our club is the family nature of each team, and how the players interact with each other.”
On the field or off, building community is a goal that ISF aspires to achieve, and Duane’s work with youth soccer exemplifies this ongoing commitment to the local communities where we live, work, and play.
ISF, teaming with the Children’s Home Society of Florida (CHS), North Central Division, sponsored a Teddy Bear Drive collecting new stuffed animals for donation to the Child Protection Team (CPT) program. CPT provides examinations, evaluations, and forensic interviews for children suspected of being abused and/or neglected. When a child is going through an evaluation, be it physical or psychological, the CPT team members give the child a new stuffed animal, which offers comfort in a time of confusion and trauma.
ISF collected 100 stuffed animals. ISF’s Teddy Bear Drive lead, Lauren Kemper, performed weekly counts of the teddy bears and stated, “Holding a teddy bear brought back good childhood memories. I can only imagine what it can do for a child in real need of comfort.”
Because the Drive was held through Valentine’s Day, many of the stuffed animals donated were more vibrant than the typical brown teddy bear. Some teddy bears were striped pink and purple, some had red hearts and white fur, some even with bowties and heart shaped noses. Ms. Kemper commented, “Everyone at ISF was enthusiastic about this teddy bear drive. I think we realized the magnitude of what this drive could do for a child in need – and that’s honestly how our small staff was able to come up with 100 teddy bears and stuffed animals.”
Lauren Kemper and ISF CEO Cyndy Loomis met with CHS’s Director of Development, Jennifer Albaugh, to deliver the 100 teddy bears to the CHS in March. Ms. Albaugh extended an invitation for them to participate in the monthly tour of the CHS facility and while on the tour explained these stuffed animals can be distributed in as little as a month. Ms. Albaugh pointed out that CHS is always collecting new stuffed animals to donate to children.
To learn more about Children’s Home Society of Florida or to discover volunteer opportunities to help children and families in our community, contact Rebecca Amnott, Development Specialist, at (850) 219-4206 or Rebecca.Amnott@chsfl.org.
Ramona Poole is known as ISF’s Human Resources Coordinator, as well as our resident meatball chef. But to the youth at her church, she is their advisor, program coordinator, and their choir assistant. Ramona dedicates her free time every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month to teach and assist with the youth group at Mt. Bethlehem P.B. Church in Tallahassee.
In 2012, Ramona and her youth group began a project to collect and recycle used Christmas cards. This isn’t typical recycling. The purpose of collecting these Christmas cards was to repurpose them into ornaments to distribute to nursing homes in the Tallahassee community. The ornaments are created from the face of the card. The decorative half is trimmed and embellished. The children sign the back of the ornament with heart-felt messages, wishing the recipients a Merry Christmas. Colorful, silky ribbon is attached and the refurbished ornaments are then ready to be given to their receivers at homes like Seven Hills nursing home. Last year, Ramona and her youth group donated 160 card ornaments.
This year, Ramona has set the goal to donate these card ornaments to 3 nursing homes within the area. Ramona and the kids have faith that all 480 recipients will be able to receive an ornament of their own. They only have 256 cards to go, already surpassing the amount they collected last year. “I’m confident that more cards will come in,” Ramona says. “We really want to touch as many lives as possible.”
In addition to the ornaments, this past Christmas the choir was invited to sing at the Miracle Hill nursing home. At 10:00 a.m., 15 choir members volunteered their Christmas morning to sing songs such as “Silent Night” and “May be the Last Time, I don’t Know.”
“I am so proud of our kids and the work that they are doing to help us put a smile on a face and touch the lives of those who are often forgotten,” Ramona says.
Donations are ongoing. If you wish to donate, or find more ways to get involved with the youth or at Mt. Bethlehem P.B. Church, please contact Ramona at email@example.com
ISF Business Development Coordinator and Project Manager, Tammy Young, has been selected to serve as a member of The Florida State University Family Connection Advisory Council. Through an application process, Council members are selected to serve as liaison between the university and current students and their family members to promote information sharing and encourage family involvement at the university.
In Fall of 2011, Tammy’s eldest son became the third generation Young to attend FSU, following in the footsteps of both Tammy and her husband Joe, as well as Joe’s mother, who graduated from FSU when it was the Florida State College for Women.
ISF Cares Campaign
ISF Cares is ISF’s corporate community involvement campaign. At the core of ISF’s belief system is the concept that we can accomplish more when we work together. Inspired by this core principle, ISF undertakes community involvement initiatives that require little of each individual, but the sum of which is significant. Participation is never mandatory, but our staff always heed the call. Recent ISF Cares activities have included a book drive to benefit The Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend’s “My First Books” program and ISF’s 2nd annual clothing drive to benefit the Lighthouse Children’s Home.
The following is a small sampling of some of the many worthy organizations with which ISF and its staff are involved:
- American Cancer Society
- American Heart Association
- American Lung Association
- Boy Scouts of America
- Children’s Home Society of Florida
- Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend
- Friends of the Leroy Collins Leon County Library System
- Girl Scouts of the USA
- Lighthouse Children’s Home
- Second Harvest of the Big Bend
- Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation
- Tallahassee Museum
- Tallahassee Senior Center
- The Florida State University Family Connection
- Vision is Priceless