President’s Message: National Volunteer Appreciation Month

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month, a time dedicated to recognizing the importance of volunteering and honoring the significant contributions volunteers make by generously donating their time and talents to worthy causes. It is my pleasure to recognize Florida Southern College, Guests Services, and First Presbyterian Church with President’s Awards for exemplary service.

At VISTE, volunteers are at the heart of almost everything we do so it’s fitting that this newsletter shines a spotlight on some of their many contributions. We were excited to renew VISTE’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon once again (after a 2-year hiatus). I invite you to read further to learn about some exceptional volunteers who were recognized at that event. It was also my distinct privilege to recognize three long-term partners with the President’s Award.

In 2012, Alice O’Reilly established the President’s Award as a special means to honor and celebrate individuals, groups, or organizations that performed unique and extraordinary service to seniors in our community through their partnership with VISTE. This award is not to be given out annually, but when there is an exceptional story or deed that must be acknowledged. That first award was given to The Sisters in recognition of their years of tireless, yet joyful service to our most frail clients. In 2014 Lucille Dekle was recognized for her dedication, loyalty, spunk, thoughtfulness, and graciousness. In 2018 the Ramp Crew was recognized for their years of labor in building hundreds of access ramps, handrails, and stairs. And in 2021 JoAnn Schirm was honored for her faithful service delivering hot meals twice each week, for 18 years.

This year, it is my privilege to present the President’s Award to three different community partners that have been instrumental to VISTE’s hot meal program since its inception in 1999. Without their ongoing partnerships, this program would not be possible.

Every Tuesday and Thursday Guest Services prepares food in the Cafeteria at Florida Southern College and brings it in chaffing dishes to First Presbyterian Church in Lakeland. Food is then portioned out in the church’s kitchen and delivered by volunteers directly to our client’s homes. Over the past 23 years literally hundreds of thousands of hot meals have been prepared, served, and delivered to seniors in need. Throughout that time Guest Services has maintained the same charge of $4.45/meal and First Presbyterian Church has allowed use of their kitchen at no additional charge. Maintaining this essential service over that time would not have been possible without the unfailing commitment and support of all three of these exceptional partners.

Their steadfast commitment to meeting this basic human need, especially during the past two years when their operations and facilities were closed to others due to COVID, epitomizes VISTE’s commitment to enable elderly person to remain safely and independently in their own homes.

Again, It is my extreme pleasure to recognize Florida Southern College, Guests Services, and First Presbyterian Church with President’s Awards for exemplary service!


President's Award

Award Photo: Accepting the Presidents’ Award, pictured left to right, are Tim Raible, Food Service Director of Guest Services with Florida Southern College, Dr. Anne B. Kerr, President of Florida Southern College, Rev. Dr. Zac McGowen, Outreach Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Lakeland, Florida, presented by Steve Bissonnette, President of VISTE. 

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