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Goodwill Manasota honors 2023 Community Ambassadors of the Year

Nonprofit organization recognizes advocates and leaders in the areas of veterans services, philanthropy, and community partnership



SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – On October 12, Goodwill Manasota was proud to bring back – for the first time since 2019 – its Community Ambassador of the Year Awards. This year’s event, which took place at Michael’s On East, recognized advocates and leaders in the areas of veterans services, philanthropy, and community partnership as well as a remarkable team member.


The event – which was emceed by Pavitra Ciavardone, the Director of Community Engagement & Strategic Partnerships for Goodwill – included a welcome and 2022 community impact report by President & CEO Donn Githens; the presentation of colors and Pledge of Allegiance led by the United States Marine Corps Color Guard from the 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion of Tampa, Fla.; invocation by Rev. Timothy Boggess of First Presbyterian Church of Sarasota; and the presentation of awards.


The honorees this year were:


Veterans honoree: Rob Kehs. U.S. Navy veteran Rob Kehs, who served from 1985-1989 as a jet engine mechanic, is known as an “unsung hero” who never cares about receiving recognition for all that he does for veterans in our community. Kehs is the current President of SRQ Vets.


Philanthropy honoree: Sarasota Private Trust Company, New York Private Bank & Trust Company and The Milstein Family (accepted by Bill Isaac, Chairman, Sarasota Private Trust Company and one of the very first recipients of a Community Ambassador Award from Goodwill). In the wake of Hurricane Ian, Sarasota Private Trust Company, New York Private Bank & Trust Company and the Milstein Family donated $1 million to assist community members impacted by the storm; Goodwill served as the pass-through agency for $750,000 of the total gift, which was used to purchase gift cards for Publix, Walmart and Wawa, and subsidize Goodwill vouchers for individuals and families severely impacted by the storm. Fourteen partner nonprofit organizations opted in to assist in distributing these hurricane resources to more than 2,500 local households.


Community Partner honoree: Easterseals Southwest Florida (accepted by Easterseals President & CEO Tom Waters). Goodwill Manasota and Easterseals are longtime partners, collaborating on initiatives to assist those with disabilities in finding and retaining employment. The organizations also recently began working together to help area veterans through the equine assisted learning program, Operation1Stride.


Additionally, Goodwill presented its inaugural Robert W. Rosinsky Achievement Award – affectionately known as “The Rosy” and made possible by the Louis & Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust – to team member Dora Talamantes. Although she was not a native speaker of English when she applied for a job with Goodwill, those in charge of hiring recognized the many wonderful qualities and abilities she would bring to the organization. In her acceptance speech, Talamantes noted that, during her job search, “I knocked on many doors but only Goodwill opened their doors to me.”


Since she began working for Goodwill, Talamantes has learned to speak English, has become an American citizen, and risen from an entry-level job to a store manager. She was recognized with The Rosy for her dedication, excellence, and commitment to continuous improvement.


“We were so thrilled to bring back this event, which recognizes those in the community whose contributions of time, resources, expertise and passion for helping others have enabled our organization to expand our mission impact,” said Githens. “We could not succeed in our social enterprise operations without the leadership, support and collaboration of people and organizations like those we honored today.”


For more about Goodwill Manasota, visit experiencegoodwill.org.


Photo ID: Goodwill Manasota President and CEO Donn Githens (second from left) with the Community Ambassador Awards Luncheon honorees (from left) Rob Kehs, Dora Talamantes, Tom Waters and Bill Isaac

Photo by Rod Millington


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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