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Goodwill announces 2024 Community Ambassador of the Year honorees

Nonprofit organization to recognize advocates and supporters in the areas of veterans services, leadership and community partnership


SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Goodwill Manasota is proud to announce its honorees for the 2024 Community Ambassador of the Year awards. This year’s event, which will recognize advocates and supporters in the areas of veterans services, leadership, and partnership, will take place on Thursday, October 17, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Michael’s On East (1212 East Avenue S., Sarasota).


The honorees this year are:


Veteran Advocate of the Year: Janine “Mama” Lutz. Lutz is a social rights activist, public speaker, businesswoman, philanthropist, and founder of the LCpl Janos V Lutz Live to Tell Foundation, which was created in honor of her son, Johnny, after his death in 2013 due to pharmaceutical-induced suicide. Lutz has turned tragedy into triumph: she is a voice for the betterment of the lives of active military, veterans, first responders, and their families. Lutz has brought national attention to the suicide epidemic among these groups as well as provided a multi-faceted solution to the problems and obstacles they face daily. Her Lutz Buddy Up social clubs connect hundreds of participants locally – including in Sarasota-Manatee and, hopefully soon, in Arcadia – build stronger communities, and save countless lives. Her goal is to have a Lutz Buddy Up in every community in the U.S. to expand the safety net for our active military, veterans and first responders.


Community Leader of the Year: Cliff Walters. Walters, a Principal of Blalock Walters, P.A., is a respected and loyal legal advisor in Manatee and Sarasota counties with an extensive record of service to our community. Walters has served as past president or chair of many of the area’s major charitable, cultural, and education institutions, including Goodwill Manasota, the University of South Florida Sarasota/Manatee, Manatee United Way, John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation, and more. He has earned many honors for his service, including: the Edgar H. Price, Jr. Humanitarian Lifetime Achievement Award; Lifetime Achievement Award, Manatee County Bar Association; Distinguished Leadership Award, Leadership Manatee; Kiwanis – George Hixon Award & Legion of Honor; Who’s Who in Tampa Bay Law – Tampa Bay Business Journal; and previous recognition as a Goodwill Community Ambassador of the Year.


Community Partners of the Year: All Faiths Food Bank and Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee. Goodwill Manasota is a longtime partner of All Faiths Food Bank and Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee, collecting non-perishable food items at all of its donation locations for the benefit of these organizations. In 2023, Goodwill collected 233,166 pounds of food to assist our neighbors in Sarasota and Manatee counties who are experiencing hunger.


All Faiths Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization in Sarasota and DeSoto counties, providing millions of meals each year in collaboration with more than 300 agencies and programs throughout the community. All Faiths works not only to end hunger today, but also strives to end hunger – forever – by helping families and individuals gain long-term food security, enjoy better health outcomes, and achieve self-sufficiency. The mission of Meals on Wheels PLUS is to assist individuals to live independently by providing nutrition and caring, supportive services such as home-delivered meals, the Food Bank of Manatee, the Daybreak Adult Day Center, and its Friendship Dining Centers.


The Community Partner of the Year Awards will be accepted by Nelle S. Miller, president and CEO of All Faiths Food Bank, and Maribeth Phillips, president & CEO of Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee; Phillips was accorded individual Community Ambassador of the Year honors from Goodwill in 2017.


Additionally, Goodwill will present its second-ever Robert W. Rosinsky Achievement Award – made possible by the Louis & Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust and affectionately known as “The Rosy” – to a deserving team member. This award serves to recognize an employee who embodies the qualities and dedication to the Goodwill mission that 50-year Goodwill leader Rosinsky – who retired in June of 2022 – brought to the organization over the course of his decades of service.


“Goodwill Manasota invests significant effort into being a collaborative organization – building upon established relationships and creating new partnerships – because we believe that, by working together, we can serve even more members of our community and do so more effectively,” said Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Donn Githens. “This signature event is a wonderful time for us to gather to celebrate local leaders and advocates for their dedication, partnership, and service to our community.”


Individual tickets are $135; sponsorships of $500-$7,500 are still available. Visit experiencegoodwill.org/events


Photo ID: Goodwill Manasota's 2024 Community Ambassadors of the Year are (from l-r) Cliff Walters, Janine 'Mama' Lutz, All Faiths Food Bank (represented by President and CEO Nelle S. Miller), and Meals on Wheels PLUS of Manatee (represented by President & CEO Maribeth Phillips)

Courtesy photo/Goodwill Manasota


About Goodwill Manasota

Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With philanthropic donations and revenue generated by the sales of donated goods, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those with other barriers to employment by providing jobs, job skills training, and free career services. For more information or for a listing of locations, visit experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.

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