2015-04-23 / Top News

Charity for Change presents first-ever Character in Collier awards

SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY


Dorothea Sonne, Eric Sonne, Judy Green, Jack Fulmer, Jackie Ressa, Ames Ressa, Joan Kessler and Joel Kessler 
TIM GIBBONS / FLORIDA WEEKLY Dorothea Sonne, Eric Sonne, Judy Green, Jack Fulmer, Jackie Ressa, Ames Ressa, Joan Kessler and Joel Kessler TIM GIBBONS / FLORIDA WEEKLY Charity for Change presented its inaugural Character in Collier awards as part of the second annual Giver Challenge in March at The Club at Olde Cypress. The five awards went to:

¦ Bruce and Karla “Peaches” Conley – the ChangeMaker Award.

¦ Cindy Thomas, manager of Cove Yacht Club and organizer of Christmas for Children – the Charity award sponsored by Arthrex.

¦ Lisa Morse, director of community engagement and district initiatives with Collier County Public Schools – the Integrity award sponsored by First Florida Integrity Bank.

¦ Diane Ponton, director of family literacy at Grace Place for Children & Families – the Kindness award sponsored by the Lund Family.

¦ Eileen Wesley, victim advocate at Project HELP – the Perseverance award sponsored by the Lund Family in memory of Christine Thompson.


Angelina Acunto, Eileen Wesley and Peg O’Kane Angelina Acunto, Eileen Wesley and Peg O’Kane The Conleys were recognized for more than 30 years of service to the community. Through the 2nd Chance Foundation they have significantly affected the strengthening, growth and capacity of dozens of nonprofit organizations including Care Club of Collier County, the Freedom Waters Foundation, the music therapy program at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Naples Equestrian Challenge and Naples Historical Society. Beyond the impact of dollars, they encourage innovation and creativity, support educational development and empower people and organizations to develop new ways to approach and solve some of the complicated challenges within the community.

For more than 15 years, Ms. Thomas has led members of the Cove Yacht Club raising more than $585,000 in their volunteer efforts affecting 1,600 children and their families. The Christmas for Children initiative provides holiday gifts at Lely Elementary School and tutoring programs at Lely Elementary and Calusa Park Elementary schools.


Chad Oliver, Karen Conley and Lisa Morse Chad Oliver, Karen Conley and Lisa Morse Ms. Morse was honored for her dedication to education, charity and the community. The award highlighted her unwavering integrity while advocating for our community's youngest members with fortitude and love.

Ms. Ponton was recognized for living a life of kindness, treating others with compassion and respect. Her benevolence and attitude of caring and love are exemplified in her thoughtful spirit as she truly cares about the families she helps.

Ms. Wesley’s perseverance is unshakable as she responds with extraordinary compassion to calls 24 hours a day helping victims of sexual violence, family members who have suddenly lost a loved one or people contemplating suicide.


Tamara Gogin, Karla Conley, Bruce Conley, Dierdre Strigenz, Tim Strigenz Tamara Gogin, Karla Conley, Bruce Conley, Dierdre Strigenz, Tim Strigenz Charity for Change advisory board member Kathy Feinstein was chairperson of the Character in Collier selection committee, which included Mason Ayers, Connie Byrne, Todd Foege and Joel Kessler.

This year’s Giver Challenge committee included: Katherine Albert, Beth Amico, Lillian Ashton, Amanda Beights, Kaitlan Benedict, Mary Birr, Sara Dewberry, Pam Fultz, Gail Graham, Beth Juliano, Michele Lamb, Sue Lottridge, Gina McCabe, Lisa Nakfoor, Amy Owen and Cyrilla Wagner. The evening’s sponsors included Arthrex, eBella, Iberia- Bank, Bank of America, Community Foundation of Collier County, Courtney’s Creations, Home-Tech and Stock Development.

Co-chaired by Jackie Ressa and Brooke Stone, the fundraised netted $47,000. State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo and John Passidomo served as honorary chairs, and Chad Oliver emceed the lively evening of awards and games.


Randy Packard and Cindy Thomas Randy Packard and Cindy Thomas Charity for Change and its Giver character education curriculum reach more than 10,000 pre-K through fifth grade students in Collier County. For more information, visit charityforchange.org. ¦



Diane Ponton and Richard Ponton Diane Ponton and Richard Ponton

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