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Our Heart of the Community Gallery is a place where the community can honor philanthropists, non-profit organizations, and fundraisers with a picture and a short commemoration.

Empath Health honors The Milkey Family Foundation

The Milkey Family Foundation is a shining example of the Heart of the Community, dedicated to making a profound impact on the Tampa Bay Community and beyond. With unwavering commitment and boundless generosity, this foundation has touched countless lives through its philanthropic endeavors. From supporting vital educational programs that empower our youth to investing in healthcare initiatives that enhance the well-being of our community, as well as supporting a healthy watershed for Tampa Bay through restoration projects, the Milkey Family Foundation consistently demonstrates a deep-seated passion for positive change.

Their visionary leadership and collaborative spirit have transformed projects and initiatives, leaving a mark on Tampa Bay's landscape. Their support for local nonprofits, including Suncoast Hospice Foundation and EPIC (Empath Partners In Care), and many more, has provided essential resources for those in need, fostering a culture of giving that inspires others to follow suit.

The Milkey Family Foundation's dedication to building a stronger, more vibrant community serves as a testament to the true Heart of the Community. Their efforts to create lasting change and improve the lives of countless individuals make them an outstanding nominee for AFP Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week's Heart of the Community award.

The Sara Leonard Group honors Patricia Douglas and Gary Hartfield

Patricia Douglas and Gary Hartfield are the epitome of philanthropists. Across Tampa Bay and beyond, they each put their time, talent and treasure to work for good through a myriad of community efforts.

In 2021, they teamed up to co-chair The Skills Center capital campaign to build The Skills Center Collaborative – a permanent home for a multitude of organizations including The Skills Center, G3 Life Applications, GEMS, Men of Vision and the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa (CDC). Together these organizations are re-imagining a better path forward for every child by breaking the cycle of poverty and positioning their students to change their lives and their world.

Under their leadership, the capital campaign has exceeded expectations. A capital campaign is a major undertaking and these two volunteer leaders have not been deterred by the challenge. Upon completion, The Skills Center Collaborative will feature over 95,000 square feet of space that will generate over 180 jobs and a $25 million impact in East Tampa over the next 5 years.

Without the tireless leadership of dedicated volunteers like Gary and Patricia, Tampa Bay would not be the vibrant community that we all fondly call home.

Shriners Childrens honors Leigh Dittman

Leigh Dittman is unstoppable. From the moment she was born, everyone was drawn to her bright eyes and magnetic personality. She was determined to set records and make a difference. Leigh was born with “brittle bone disease,” and doctors told her family she could break very easily.

She has had 46 fractures and 14 surgeries at Shriners Children’s Florida.

Leigh recently graduated from the University of Tampa and is fulfilling her dream of being a nurse. Along with her companion dog, Nerf, she leads an independent, full life.

Her passion is to give back.

Each time she would go to Shriners for care she would see the donor appreciation wall. Even as a child, she knew she wanted her name on a plaque there some day. When she was two years old, she decided to dedicate her birthdays to raise money for the hospital that means so much to her.

 She has a plaque now.

She gave and inspired others to give generously. At age 15, she achieved her goal of raising $1 million for Shriners. She is the youngest person to cross that threshold. Her record stands today. She also inspires others to follow her. A fishing tournament has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Shriners, after its founders saw her passion.

Leigh continues to raise awareness for Shriners Children’s and encourages others every day. Shriners is grateful for this inspirational young woman and looks forward to seeing her future accomplishments.

St. Josephs Hospitals honors the Adult Chronic Complex Clinic

When Alysia Peddy’s children were born, she felt grateful for their good health and delighted in experiencing all of their firsts.  Even when Pierce, her second child, started missing some of his standard milestones she wasn’t overly concerned knowing all kids develop at their own pace. But when her active and precious toddler started having seizures at two years old, she knew something more was going on. Pierce was diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disorder.  This disorder caused traumatic brain injuries, a trache for breathing, a g-tube for eating and a lifetime of 24/7 intensive care.

When Alysia found the Plasencia Chronic Complex Clinic at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, which is a national model in coordinating care for children like Pierce, it changed everything. The clinic ensures Pierce, and medically complex children like him, have a place to go to handle all their medical, physical, and emotional needs. A specialized medical team knows each child personally – from their medical history to their favorite sports team – and tailors their healthcare accordingly.

Currently there are over six-hundred children being treated at the clinic, with nearly fifty in the process of transitioning out because of their age. St. Joseph’s Hospitals Foundation in partnership with St. Joseph’s Hospitals raised over $1.5 million to establish an Adult Chronic Complex Clinic, delivering a seamless transition of care so these medically fragile patients and their loved ones won’t have to scramble to find the same level of extraordinary care they so desperately need.

WUSF is honoring Tom Hall for his many devoted years of volunteering and support for public radio in the Tampa Bay community

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