ORLANDO, Fla. – Every week as part of the News 6 Getting Results Award segment, we highlight people in Central Florida who are going above and beyond — and making a difference for their neighbors.
The people and the way they chose to help were as diverse as the communities they served.
As this year comes to a close we thought it was a perfect time to reflect on their stories and the moments that made an impact on so many.
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We started the year in Brevard County where Brevard Mask Makers volunteer Marsha Plog was making masks for students and seniors.
Mary Ann Laverty spent her days driving from one end of the county to another, delivering supplies and finished masks to those who needed them.
“We have so many talented sewers and seamstresses in our community that were willing to help, but they had certain limitations,” Laverty said. “We’ve made over 35,000 masks that we’ve donated in the community and we’re still going strong.”
It may be hard to recall now but at the time, the COVID-19 vaccine was just becoming available and people were having a hard time getting appointments through the online portals.
Linda and Richard Griffing, who are retirees, tried several times, but each day the appointment calendar was full before they could register.
“You’d get on the site and then you couldn’t get anything,” Richard Griffing remembers. “All of a sudden all the appointments are gone. Boom end of story,” Linda added.
But Mary Steele used her free time and computer skills to help those who couldn’t get registered.
“I just hope that if it was my mother, somebody would help her,” Steele said when asked why she spent most of her off-time helping others.
We took a visit to the Greenwood Place Assisted Living Center. Mary Ann Ball wrote us praising the staff there for keeping her parents safe and in good spirits during COVID safety protocols.
“One day it was raining and the staff was out there with umbrellas saying this is what we’re doing,” Ball said. “Our loved ones need to see family.”
We met a school resource officer who is changing perceptions.
Deputy Brian Jensen has been the school resource officer at Mollie Ray Elementary for three years and he’s winning over students, and their parents, one semester at a time.
“Kids that when I initially started here wouldn’t even talk to me largely because of my uniform,” Jensen remembered. “Now they come up to me every day.”
From the moment he stepped on campus, Jensen has made it his mission to be involved. Parents Netisha Thornelant have taken notice. Thornelant nominated him for the News 6 Getting Results Award.
“Well I sent the email because I know that Channel 6 has the Getting Results Award and with everything going on between police interaction, especially with minorities, I feel that Deputy Jensen is someone who provides that good example of police interaction with our young people.”
We met Jerry Vaughan, a veterans advocate going to great lengths to honor the final wishes of the men and women who served our country.
Vaughan collects vintage uniforms as part of his Dover Detail Project. The uniforms are used for veterans who wish to be buried in the uniforms they wore during service.
“One of the last things he did was ask me to track him down a uniform so that when he went out he could go out the way he wanted to,” Vaughan said as we watched him prepare a World War Two era Navy uniform for decorated veteran Philip Bradstreet who passed away at 94.
We were there the day a long-time champion for children, Linda Sutherland, retired. Sutherland served as executive director for the Healthy Start Coalition of Orange County for 20 years.
She was nominated by coworker Jarred McCovery.
“Us taking the step to nominate Linda, it was a no-brainer,” McCovery said. “She’s just accomplished so much in her tenure here, all the things that she’s done for families it made perfect sense to nominate her for this award.”
We showed you therapy on horse back at Freedom Ride Stables in Orlando. Every day for nearly 20 years, riders of all ages have climbed up on these beautiful, giant creatures and become one with nature. The staff and clients are looking forward to the new facilities just a few miles away.
We witnessed friendship at the lanes in The Villages. The Special Friends Bowling Club meets every week to provide activity and socialization for Villages residents with special needs.
Ray Kleczowski has been organizing the get togethers for more than 20 years.
“There are no shortcomings here.” Kleczowski said, as dozens bowled, laughed and congratulated each other around him. “This is the way life should be.”
We watched as volunteers from Paddle With A Purpose cleaned our waterways. Organizer, J.R. Tanhgal, is a leader with several area nonprofits.
“I don’t think people realize the magnitude of what he’s doing,” volunteer Briona Jones said. “The amount of money he’s raised for different organizations.”
We featured several people dedicating their time to help feed their neighbors. Mike Hayes took his catering experience and opened a nonprofit kitchen called God’s Table.
Shereece Mitchell turned her knowledge of healthy eating and exercise into a drive-thru pantry called Butterfly Lifestyle.
Kelli Marks started Backpack Buddies to help feed kids in her community of Orange City.
And Deryl Ames helped build and stock a tiny pantry in his St. Cloud neighborhood.
Finally, with a new year upon us and hope for the future, we watched as a special group of volunteers remembered the service members we lost in 2021.
Volunteers with the Cape Canaveral Ladies were present for every funeral at the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery when no other friends or family could attend.
“There are times out here when I’m out here that some of these services just touch me and I will find myself in tears,” Debra Griffin, chairwoman of the Cape Canaveral Ladies, told us.
The year ahead is certain to bring more surprises but as we’ve seen, your neighbors never fail to “get results” and we’ll be there to share them with you.
If you know someone “Getting Results,” use the form below to let us know about them. You may see them featured in the coming weeks.