Volunteers Donate 42,863 Hours in Helping Meals on Wheels Prepare and Deliver 88,201 Meals in Past Year
Thanks to 42,863 hours of dedicated service provided by 878 volunteers, Meals on Wheels (MOW) of Polk County was able to prepare and deliver 88,201 nutritious, home-cooked meals to homebound people in Winter Haven and other communities in eastern Polk County as well as some parts of Lakeland during the past year.
“We thank all of the wonderful volunteers who make it possible for us to feed homebound people each weekday all year long by donating their valuable time serving as drivers, kitchen and warehouse workers and thrift shop clerks,” said MOW Executive Director Susan Eldridge, in welcoming an estimated 250 volunteers, staff, board members and guests to the non-profit’s 47th annual meeting in early November at Heartland Church in downtown Winter Haven.
SPCA Florida, a nonprofit 501c3 rescue organization received grant funds for $1,000 from the PEDIGREE Foundation. The grant will provide general support, such as spay and neuter, vaccines, and daily provisions for canines. The PEDIGREE Foundation believes that every adoptable shelter dog deserves a forever home. The PEDIGREE Foundation Grant will save the lives of adoptable, loving dogs who would otherwise not have a chance at life. In conjunction with the No Kill Polk County Movement, SPCA Florida, in partnership with Polk County Animal Control, are striving to save more canine lives this year.
Visit LEGOLAND® Florida Resort this Month to Receive a Free Return Ticket and see the LEGO® Star Wars™ Miniland Model Display One Last Time
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is celebrating the jolliest time of the year by gifting guests who purchase single-day theme park tickets now through the end of the year a free ticket to return in January or February 2020. Enjoy seasonal shows, tasty treats, exclusive character meet-and-greets and unique LEGO® activities during Holidays at LEGOLAND – included with all types of theme park admission.
The theme park built for kids is bidding the LEGO® Star Wars™ Miniland model display goodbye. Guests can enjoy the display until January 6, 2020 before it’s off to a galaxy far, far away and get one last look at favorite scenes from the iconic Star Wars™ saga recreated with 1.5 million LEGO bricks!
Guests can book a visit this month visit at www.legoland.com/gift-to-you.
New Aluminum Can Manufacturing Facility Will Bring Up to 500 Jobs and Millions in Economic Impact To Winter Haven
Editors Note: The Chamber of Commerce is excited to support our partners in the City of Winter Haven and the Winter Haven Economic Development Council for their outside-of-the-box thinking to bring this project to this point. To find the excess City land, adjacent to the ILC property, was the perfect fit for the company and helps the City earn substantial additional ad valorem revenue annually. The hard work, innovative thinking and collaboration of many entities including the City, WHEDC, FDOT, Congressman Darren Soto (FL-9), CFDC, CFRPC, Enterprise Florida, DEP, Polk County BOCC and many others will give this community economic opportunity for many years to come. While there are still steps that need to be taken before this project becomes a reality, the vote the City Commission took on December 4 is a pivotal step forward in the expansion of manufacturing in our community.
Previously code named "Project Sugar Cane", Florida Caribbean Distillers, a local manufacturing and distilling company, has plans for a three-phase project that could yield approximately 800,000 square feet of advanced manufacturing, and a potential creation of more than 500 new jobs. To facilitate the project, on December 4, 2019, the Winter Haven City Commission approved the sale of surplus city-owned property to the company, which currently has facilities in Winter Haven, Lake Alfred, Auburndale, and Puerto Rico.
Congratulations to Grove Roots Brewing Co. for being awarded Business of the Month! Grove Roots was founded on community-centric ideologies. Their visions, goals, and passions revolve around Winter Haven, i.e. everything they do is and will always be for this community. Whether it's sponsoring events, supplying beer for community fundraisers, or simply promoting the endeavors of others, Grove Roots aims to pay forward the support they've received over the last 3 years.
Florida Poly News:
A team of Florida Poly students is charging head-on into the design and construction of a real planetary rover that one day could traverse the terrain of Mars, collecting samples and providing a close-up look at places that have always been a mystery. The 14-member team is developing the rover for the Florida Space Institute. The project is part of Florida Polytechnic University’s yearlong capstone design program, which pairs teams of seniors with corporate and research partners to tackle real-world engineering projects.
Frank J. Durbin Fourth Degree Assembly 2608; Knights of Columbus Council 7091 Recognize Veterans with Dinner
The Frank J. Durbin Fourth Degree Assembly 2608 and Knights of Columbus Council 7091 of Cypress Gardens teamed up to recognize current and retired members of the U.S. military with a dinner in their honor at Cypresswood Golf & Country Club in Winter Haven. This First Annual Veterans Appreciation Dinner on Saturday, November 3 attracted an estimated 80 men and women, many of whom served the United States in wartime and peacetime as members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. The function, which was free of charge to veterans and their spouses, was held on Saturday, November 3.
Guest Blogger: Urjit Patel with Axiom Bank
When it’s time to choose a bank, you have plenty of options. From the industry giants you see on TV commercials to the community bank down the street, they all have a different set of perks for the consumer. So, which do you choose? Community banks are locally owned and operated across just a few cities and neighborhoods – which means they have a unique ability to understand the needs of local families and can tailor their services accordingly. That adds up to some big benefits for your customer experience and financial growth. Here are three key advantages you’ll find at a community bank.
Trinity Medical Group is pleased to announce their events and classes for the month of December 2019. Trinity events are open to everyone and are free of charge. Events are offered at both our Lakeland and Winter Haven locations.
Jolly old St. Nick, and Mrs. Claus, will take time out of their busy schedule to pay a visit to Central Florida’s Visitor Information Center (CFVIC) in Davenport on Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring your camera to capture a photo with the bearded one during this free, pet-friendly event. In addition to meeting Mr. and Mrs. Claus, the event will include refreshments and holiday crafts for the kids, as well as a scavenger hunt throughout the center where kids can earn a prize. New this year is a special ticket offer from Bok Tower Gardens. Buy one Bok Tower Gardens Holiday Home Tour combo ticket and get one free, for tickets purchased at the visitor center on the day of the event. Offer limited to 4 tickets per person. For more information, contact Ashlyn Deeringer at 863-420-2586 or Ashlyn@visitcentralflorida.org.
If you are looking for unique holiday gifts, check out the CFVIC’s Florida souvenir gift shop. The information center also sells discounted attraction tickets for many Central Florida attractions, including LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, the Disney parks, Universal Studios, Kennedy Space Center, Busch Gardens and more. The CFVIC is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week (excluding major holidays) and is located at 101 Adventure Court in Davenport (along U.S. Highway 27), a half-mile south of I-4 at Exit 55.
United Way of Central Florida has partnered with Lakeland Regional Health and Coalition on Injury Prevention of Polk County to provide children with free bicycle helmets on Tuesday, November 26. "Lids for Kids" will be from 9 to 11 a.m. at Family Fundamentals, located on the third floor at 109 N. Kentucky Ave. in Lakeland. Certified helmet fitters will provide children with perfectly fitted helmets at no cost.
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is stealing extra days of savings with great offers for Black Friday beginning Wednesday, Nov. 27 and continue through Monday, Dec. 3. Instead of only one day for deals, shoppers have seven straight days of discounted prices to save 50 percent on vacation packages and annual passes. Sale begins at midnight on November 27 and guests can purchase at www.legoland.com/blackfriday2019.
Here are this year’s deals:
Catholic Charities Uses $1,000 Donation from Knights Of Columbus to Help People Pay Rent and Utility Bills
Knights of Columbus Council 7091 of Cypress Gardens demonstrated its commitment to help needy people in a big way with a $1,000 donation to Catholic Charities Polk County Ministries that helped seven needy families in eastern Polk County make their rent and utility payments. According to Martha Murphy, case manager at a Catholic Charities office at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Winter Haven, the donation helped three families avoid homelessness by providing them with rental assistance and enabled four additional households to pay their utility bills.
As a sign of its support for helping military veterans and first responders suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) secure proper treatment before resorting to suicide to overcome this affliction, Knights of Columbus Council 7091 of Cypress Gardens recently donated $1,000 to a local veterans service organization known as 22Zero Follow Me, Inc.
Based in Winter Haven, 22Zero recruits and trains therapists, counselors, psychologists and social workers to become certified in Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) and Reconsolidating of Traumatic Memories Protocol (RTM), two new and highly-effective therapies for treating PTSD. 22Zero was established by Dan Jarvis, a Winter Haven High School graduate who made a vow to help veterans overcome PTSD after he was victimized by it as a member of the military serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq. Jarvis, who conquered PTSD with the help of ATR and RTM, serves as the non-profit organization’s executive director.
Trinity Medical Group is happy to announce the addition of Luis Rodriguez-Colon, MD, to their Winter Haven office located at 550 Pope Ave. NW. Dr. Rodriguez’s healthcare philosophy involves caring for older adults, ensuring that not just symptoms are addressed but causes as well, with a healthy and comfortable lifestyle being the goal for each of his patents. Dr. Rodriguez earned his medical degree from Autonomous University in Guadalajara, Mexico, and is fluent in both English and Spanish. He has over 16 years of experience in primary care and will work alongside Drs. Adam Parker and Ryan Braham to see Trinity patients with both acute and long-standing health concerns. Appointments with Dr. Luis Rodriguez-Colon are available by calling 863-299-2636 weekdays from 8 am – 5 pm. Appointment requests are also available online at: https://trinitymedgroup.com/patient-resources/request-an-appointment/.
Owning a business comes with many challenges. It’s not just about having passion for your craft and determination to succeed; no, that all has to be backed up by strategy and action. Christa Morgan, owner of The Catering Company, knows all about balancing passion with swift and practical action to create a successful and growing business.
Polk State wins Florida College System Chancellor’s Best Practice Award for First Year Experience and Guided Pathways
For the second consecutive year, Polk State College received a Chancellor’s Best Practice Award from the Florida College System – this time for its First Year Experience and Guided Pathways programs focused on ensuring students persist on their paths to degrees and careers. College representatives accepted the award Thursday in Palm Harbor alongside colleagues from State College of Florida, Eastern Florida State College, and Florida SouthWestern Sate College who were also recognized.
The newest attraction at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is the Florida Prepaid Schoolhouse, an indoor play area that invites younger theme park guests to explore learning and careers, thanks to a partnership between the Central Florida theme park and Florida Prepaid College Savings Plans. The Florida Prepaid Schoolhouse features a new entertainment stage, school-themed play equipment, DUPLO® brick play areas and a touchscreen where children can practice numbers and letters while exploring exciting future careers. A photo opportunity area outside the schoolhouse, located in DUPLO® Valley, features DUPLO cutout figures representing careers from marine biologist to doctor or teacher.
United Way of Central Florida President and CEO Christina Criser Jackson announces the upcoming retirement of Chief Operating Officer Penny Borgia in March 2020.
“I cannot thank Penny enough for the countless hours of hard work and the passion she has poured into this organization,” Criser Jackson said. “A United Way without Penny is hard to imagine but I’m confident she has set us up for success. Her transformational community impact initiatives will strengthen our community for years to come.”
Borgia came to UWCF as the Director of Success By 6 in 2003 and, in 2005, was named Vice President of Community Impact. One year later she began her 14-year tenure as COO.
“I have known Penny Borgia since she arrived at United Way of Central Florida,” said Dr. Pam Craven, Executive Director of Learn Resource Center of Polk County, Inc. “She was someone that I wanted to know, someone to engage in meaningful conversations about finding ways to improve the quality of life in our communities, someone with whom to forage resources to make things happen to effect positive change and someone with whom to dream what could be.”
Borgia’s contributions to United Way involve convening community partners to coordinate the study of community needs. She also works with volunteers to prioritize funding for services that can meet those needs.
"Recruiting Penny was one of the most beneficial actions of my 30-year career," said Terry Worthington, former UWCF President and CEO. "It embarrassed Penny the dozens of times i remarked, 'Penny represents the substance of United Way.' Identifying community priorities, developing strategies and mobilizing community partners to achieve measurable outcomes succeeded under Penny's leadership."
Recently, Borgia has worked closely with partners from Polk County Public Schools, Central Florida Health Care, Inc., Heartland for Children and Southeastern University to help facilitate the creation of Polk County’s first Community Partnership School at Crystal Lake Elementary.
Borgia also spearheaded UWCF's latest initiative with Mulberry Community Service Center and Feeding Tampa Bay that focuses on ending hunger and eliminating food deserts in Central Florida.
“The mantra in our house growing up was ‘Leave it better than you found it,’” Borgia said. “Both my parents set that example. By facilitating the work of dedicated and generous volunteers, I hope I have done that in some small way.
“My heart will always be with UWCF and the generous communities we serve. It will be hard to leave, but it’s time to pass the baton to the very capable staff and volunteers who are ready to take it and run.”
Registered voters who reside in the cities of Lakeland and Winter Haven will have the option to receive a Vote-by-Mail ballot for the December 3rd Run-Off Election being held in both cities. Lakeland residents will decide the outcome of the City Commission race for City Commission At-Large Seat 2 between Chad McLeod and Carole Philipson, and in Winter Haven, voters will choose between Tracy Mercer and William Twyford to decide the winner in the race for City Commissioner, Seat 1. Voters who received a Vote-by-Mail ballot for the November 5th city election will automatically be mailed a ballot for the Run-Off Election. Other voters may request that a ballot be mailed to them by calling the Elections Office at 863-534-5888, Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm, or by clicking on the “Vote by Mail” button at PolkElections.com.
Voted ballots must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections by 7 pm on Election Day, December 3rd. For more information, visit PolkElections.com or call the Elections Office at 863-534-5888.
November is designated a time when American’s recognize our nation’s veterans for their service. Throughout the month, communities schedule special ceremonies to honor the men and women who have served in the military. While these honors are important, many may not realize that veterans could have emotional and physical service-related conditions that require consideration beyond expressions of gratitude.
The IdentoGo TSA Pre✓® Mobile RV will be coming to Winter Haven Regional Airport from Monday, November 18th through Friday, December 6th, 2019. The RV will be closed over the week of Thanksgiving and on Saturdays and Sundays. The Mobile Enrollment Center will be located in the parking lot.
TSA Pre✓® is an expedited screening program that enables identified low-risk air travelers to enjoy a smart and efficient screening experience. For TSA Pre✓® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, light outerwear or belts. Today, TSA Pre✓® has more than 450 lanes at 200+ U.S. airports.
On Thursday, November 21, Central Florida Health Care (CFHC), is encouraging residents of Polk County to commit to a healthy, smoke-free life by participating in the American Cancer Society’s 44th Great American Smokeout. This national event, which is held every year on the third Thursday of November, is recognized as the day for smokers to start a plan to quit and live a smoke-free life.
SPCA Florida will host its much anticipated 27th Annual Auction for Animals on Saturday, November 16th , 2019 at Haus 820 in Downtown Lakeland. The theme for this year’s auction is Mission Impawsible and attendees are encouraged to have fun dressing up in spy wear for the event. This festive affair will include a silent auction, sit down dinner, live auction, raffle and bar. The auction is sponsored by Publix Super Markets Charities, Anne Watkins, The Carol and Barney Barnett Family within the GiveWell Community Foundation, and many other generous supporters.