SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – In September, Goodwill Manasota Ambassador Jo Rita Stevens was recognized by Goodwill Industries International for her 45-plus years of service as a volunteer for Goodwill. The Goodwill Manasota Ambassadors program engages and empowers volunteers – like Stevens – who are committed to learning about and sharing the story of how Goodwill Manasota creates jobs and offers training and career services to help people to become more employable.
Stevens was also honored in 2015 by the Office of Volunteer & Community Service division of the Department of Elder Affairs for her work as a Goodwill Ambassador and countless other regional organizations. In 2014, she was recognized as one of Goodwill Manasota’s “Ambassadors of the Year” during its annual awards dinner in October.
“While Goodwill is fortunate to have a large and dedicated volunteer corps, Jo Rita Stevens stands out for the length, breadth and intensity of her service to the community,” said Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky. “It is an honor to know that our cause has contributed such meaning and fulfillment to the lives of incredible people like Jo Rita, who are happy to commit their time, expertise and resources to Goodwill and the community. I can say with full confidence that Jo Rita has truly made a difference in the lives of others.”
Prior to moving to Sarasota approximately 20 years ago, Stevens was heavily involved in the Goodwill Service Guild in Indianapolis, Ind. She began her involvement as a volunteer as a young mom staying home with two children. Throughout her time volunteering with Goodwill, Stevens learned about working with people who have disabilities, and Goodwill’s role in helping them to achieve self-sufficiency.
At 85 years of age, Stevens is active in a way that might exhaust others. In addition to Goodwill Manasota, she also volunteers with The Haven (formerly Community Haven), Healthy Start of Sarasota , and the Kiwanis Club, and serves as an advisor to the Sarasota High School Key Club, secretary of the board of trustees at her church, and the secretary of the Historical Society of Sarasota County.
“I was surprised and honored to learn of this award. I never became involved to be recognized and it touches my heart that Goodwill nominated me for this,” said Stevens. “My service with Goodwill made me passionate about giving back to the community; the work they do is so incredible. When people think of me, I want them to think of Goodwill. The organization changes lives – just as it has changed mine.”
The Goodwill Ambassador program seeks to build a strong, healthy, and engaged community by connecting volunteers with opportunities to serve in ways that advance the mission of Goodwill in a tangible way. The goals of the Goodwill Ambassador Program include: educating the public about Goodwill’s mission; building organizational strength and image in the community; participating in fundraising or providing in-kind resources; relaying ideas and input from the community; and forging partnerships.
Goodwill Ambassadors are a diverse group, with people of all ages, economic levels and professional pursuits. What they have in common is their commitment to communicate the importance of Goodwill programs in our community. Ambassador activities include monthly “Lunch & Learns,” complete with behind-the-scenes tours; networking socials; engaging Goodwill speakers for service organizations, churches, clubs or businesses; and/or volunteering for Goodwill initiatives and events.
For more information about the Goodwill Ambassador program, call (941)355-2721, ext. 107 or go to experiencegoodwill.org/community/ambassadors.
PHOTO ID: Jo Rita Stevens (center) with Goodwill Manasota vice president Veronica Brandon Miller (left) and president and CEO Bob Rosinsky
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2015, Goodwill Manasota served 22,739 people, placed 961 people in jobs and assisted 358 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $81.3 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted 41 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.