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.
This year we traveled thousands of miles crisscrossing Central Florida to bring you their stories.
And as the year ends, we thought it was a perfect time to reflect on some of those stories and the moments that made an impact on so many.
We started the year in Brevard County at the foot of the Max Brewer Bridge in Titusville, where Under The Bridge Ministry meets every week to feed and support the homeless.
Curtis Wright and his wife Tracy, along with dozens of volunteers, feed and clothe nearly 100 people on a regular basis.
“Well, there’s nobody here who has any less problems than you or me,” Curtis Wright told us. “But they need someone. They need love. They need to know that they matter in this world when society today doesn’t let them feel that.”
We saw that same passion to help others in the volunteers at the Sharing Center in Longwood. The nonprofit has been a social services hub in Seminole County for 35 years.
We met Alvin McCain, Marsha Burns and Christina Lupi as they worked behind the scenes in the food pantry.
“A good day is when someone says thank you so much, I’m so glad you’re here.” Lupi said.
News 6 viewers sent in nominations for the people they thought deserved recognition.
Their suggestions led us to a discount grocery store, a school bus depot and even a quilting club.
We were there as business owner Anne Moon of Moon Golf handed out enough free golf bags for every public high school team in Brevard County.
“A lot of schools can’t afford new bags, so it only made sense for us to be able to give back to our community,” Moon said. “I was a high school golfer and so I know, having a team bag gives you this sense of pride. It’s important.”
We traveled up and down the coasts, where volunteers cleaned beaches, searched lagoons for plastics and embraced community activism, all to protect our waterways.
We caught up with Dave Klein in Ocala as he put the final few miles on a cross-country bike ride. Klein started in Southern California and pedaled his way east, stopping when he could, to spread the word about colon cancer screenings.
He was riding to support his friend Donna Lullo.
“The purpose is for a good friend of mine who’s had colon cancer for four years,” Klein said as he rode down narrow streets and past horse ranches. “You know, one out of five people who are diagnosed are young, are between 20 and 54,” he said.
Over the summer school break we sat in a one-room schoolhouse with Louis and Irene Taylor. The couple started the Impact Outreach Center in Orlando.
“The purpose is to see if we can curb or stop the summer slide,” Louis Taylor explained. “We don’t want the students to be out for three or four months without having any academics.”
The two offer after-school tutoring to kids in their South Orlando neighborhood and extend those services over the summer months when kids are out of school.
The couple has done well in life, both retired before the age of 60.
Now they spend that retirement here because they know education was the reason for their success.
“Education is a difference maker,” Louis Taylor said. “And I believe that if these young people were able to get a quality education and got educated like we did, it could change not only their lives, but their family’s lives, and will even assist and help our community.”
By all accounts, it’s working. The class of about a dozen students stayed focused on their studies while we were there.
“We have seen students from this program go on to major universities,” Irene Taylor said with pride.
We also rode along as others did the driving.
Vallie Boundguard spends her spare time getting cancer patients to their appointments as part of the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery program.
Boundguard told us she doesn’t mind driving in Central Florida traffic. In fact, she enjoys it. Driving fills her need to help others.
“I think it’s needed for both for the driver and the patient,” Boundguard said. “I need it. I need to be part of this. And they need it to get well.”
When Central Florida was flooded after Hurricane Ian, we hopped on an airboat with Brian Alexander as he delivered supplies to people stranded by floodwaters.
“This is my community, this is where I put my boat in when I want to go out on the river,” Alexander told us over the roar of a Chevy engine as it pushed his airboat along the center line on a flooded road. “I try to teach everyone to love your neighbor and just do the right thing. So that’s about it. Do the right thing.”
But not all deliveries were so pragmatic. Some like Jena McKinstry and her seven-year-old Pomeranian, Koda the Fluff, just delivered smiles. Koda roamed the hallways of local hospitals in her “Fur-rarri”, a tiny remote-control car with just enough speed to raise the spirits of everyone she encounters.
“When you’re in a hospital, there’s something going wrong with a loved one,” McKinstry said. “And so, to be able to see a positive distraction, and have a pet roll in, that’s just something to give you a mental break from whatever you’re dealing with. That’s pretty incredible. And it’s very impactful.”
When Hurricane Nicole brought more flooding to Central Florida neighbors in the 55-and-up Summer Trees subdivision in Port Orange again saw rising waters. But local contractor Steve Parker donated his time and money to help a WWII veteran, and others, get back in their homes.
“I didn’t come into this looking for publicity,” Parker told us when we announced he had earned the News 6 Getting Results Award. “I came in to help the people because they needed it. I mean, there’s been a lot of times in my life, people actually given me a hand up versus a handout. And that’s what it’s all about, just a hand up.”
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.
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