JDSA Attends Central Florida Leadership Forum


Advocacy drives change.  And change was all abuzz last week at the Central Florida Regional Leadership Forum in Orlando, Florida.

Hundreds of advocates and over 150 business and community leaders gathered to connect their shared values with a shared future. The event, was presented by the Central Florida Partnership and sponsored by the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, in partnership with the Central Florida Foundation and MetroPlan Orlando.  JDSA received a special invite, along with a host of other community partners, who spoke on updating their business plans to help Central Florida’s “family of communities” move toward a more prosperous future.

Dee Allsop, Ph.D., CEO and Managing Partner of Heart + Mind Strategies, released the findings of a multi-phase research project to better understand the hearts and minds of residents of Central Florida. Specifically, as they relate to the values, priorities and future of the region.

Click on the link below to view the report, Understanding the Values and Priorities of Central Floridians

A 2005 myregion.org’s initiative, entitled, “How Shall We Grow?” was what helped commission this latest study to better understand what, exactly, has changed over the last ten years.  “With new developments and business centers being constructed across the Central Florida Region, it’s important for us to know if and how these dramatic changes to the economy have shifted the priorities and values of Central Floridians.” said, Jacob V. Stuart, President of Central Florida Partnership.

Getting the public engaged to create social capital is a top priority for Mark Brewer, President and CEO of the Central Florida Foundation, who called last weeks Forum, “a pivotal moment in the history of our community.”

The Central Florida Partnership serves nearly 4 million people throughout 86 cities in 7 regional counties: Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, and Volusia.  We were proud to have been in attendance and are already engaged in working and Just Doing Something…Anything! with the leaders of each county.



Phixios Holdings: Just Doing Something to Bring Manufacturing Jobs Back to the U.S.

Phixios Holdings, Inc. has created an on-line campaign to help bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

Recognizing that maximizing profits had become more important than ensuring economic success, Phixios decided to…well, Just Do Something about it!

Not only will the on-line campaign build a manufacturing facility in the U.S., but Phixios pledges to put veterans to work in those very factories.

Check out their campaign! Make a donation. Make a difference.


A Wider Circle: JDSA-ing Their Way To End Poverty

While searching for folks who Just DO Something to make a difference, we came across A Wider Circle.  Its founder, Mark Bergel, was just named a 2014 CNN Hero.  Mark and his team are on a mission to end poverty…and just how, exactly, they’re doing that will astound you!  We’ll let them tell you who they are, what they do, and how they’re JDSA-ing their way to make a difference!  

Hundreds of thousands of mothers watching their children go to sleep each night in beds rather than on the floor. Children picking out their school clothes each morning from dressers rather than plastic garbage bags. Low-income, pregnant adolescents receiving the care-taking skills needed to raise healthy babies. Recently-homeless parents learning – and putting into practice – the basic life skills needed to obtain and maintain employment. Children and adults having the dignity and opportunity that everyone deserves.

This is why we are here, to create what is possible. The mission of A Wider Circle™ is to end poverty. We work in partnership with those we serve and with other agents of change to ensure that every child and adult has the opportunity to realize their potential and the support they need to rise out of poverty. A Wider Circle’s holistic approach focuses on the following three areas: 1. The provision of basic need items; 2. Comprehensive education and job preparedness support; and 3. Creating connections for long-term support. These three components work in concert to create lasting change in the lives of those we serve.
Who We Are
A Wider Circle says no to nobody! Anyone in need of help can find it here. In addition to all of the individuals and families that call us, more than 300 social service agencies regularly contact us for help in serving their clients.

In 2013 alone, A Wider Circle furnished the homes of more than 17,000 children and adults and delivered more than 400 educational programs. We also recycled more than 3,000,000 pounds of furniture and home goods – collecting these items from those who had more than they needed and distributing them free of charge to those who had nothing. More than 10,000 volunteers came to serve at A Wider Circle in 2013.

A Wider Circle has twice been named “one of the best” charities by the Catalogue for Philanthropy. The organization has also received the Washington Area Women’s Foundation Leadership Award. Its founder, Dr. Mark Bergel, has received the Dr. Augustus White III Award for Civic Engagement and Service, the Greater DC CaresEssence of Leadership Award, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region’s Linowes Leadership Award, and the Andrea Jolly President’s Award from the Montgomery County Corporate Volunteer Council. In 2010, Dr. Bergel was also chosen as one of People Magazine and Major League Baseball’s “All Stars Among Us.”

A Wider Circle has also been honored to have the Examiner describe the organization as “an all-inclusive reservoir of support for those in need… an example of the grassroots movement at its best.

Illinois Man JDSA’s His Way To Hero of the Year

We’re always on the lookout for stories of those who make a difference – constantly in search of people who inspire us.  People who JDSA their way to changing the world.  Each year, CNN finds ten individuals – ten heroes – who make it their goal to, Just DO Something…Anything!    

Photos: \'CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute\'(CNN) — Chad Pregracke, an Illinois man who has dedicated his life to cleaning the Mississippi River and other U.S. waterways, is the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year.

Pregracke organizes community cleanups across the country through his nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters. About 70,000 volunteers have pitched in, helping Pregracke collect more than 7 million pounds of trash in the past 15 years.

“The garbage got into the water one piece at a time,” Pregracke said earlier this year. “And that’s the only way it’s going to come out.”

Pregracke was recognized during last week’s airing of “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” along with the rest of this year’s top 10 CNN Heroes — everyday people doing extraordinary things to help change the world. He was chosen as Hero of the Year through a five-week public vote on CNN.com.

“I’ll just keep on cleaning up America’s rivers and loving every minute of it,” said Pregracke when he accepted the award.

Chad Pregracke pledged to give some of his Hero of the Year money to the rest of the top 10 CNN Heroes.
Chad Pregracke pledged to give some of his Hero of the Year money to the rest of the top 10 CNN Heroes.

For being named CNN Hero of the Year, Pregracke receives $250,000 to continue his work. That is in addition to the $50,000 that each Hero receives for making the top 10.

During the show, Pregracke pledged to spread some of his Hero of the Year money to the rest of the top 10 Heroes: “I’ve met so many great people today, the other Heroes, and I’m really moved by all their stories and all the things they do around the world. … I’m going to give 10 grand to each of them, because they’re awesome.”

Pregracke, 38, grew up in East Moline, Illinois, where the Mississippi River was in his backyard. As a teenager, he worked as a commercial shell diver and began to notice the heaps of debris in the fabled waterway, which supplies drinking water to 18 million people in more than 50 U.S. cities.

“I saw thousands of barrels, thousands of tires, cars, trucks and tops of school buses. … I got sick of seeing it and just wanted to do something about it,” said Pregracke, whom some have called “the rivers’ garbageman.”

For nine months out of the year, Pregracke lives on a barge with members of his 12-person crew. They go around the country with a fleet of boats, and they try to make cleanup fun for the volunteers who show up in each city.

They use skits, music and mock motivational speeches to get the volunteers amped up, and sometimes they even do a little karaoke. Teams also compete to see who can find the “best” garbage.

“We do everything in our power to get people excited about it,” Pregracke said. “We want people to leave feeling good about what they did so they’ll come back.”

Close to 90% of what they recover is recycled; Pregracke said the rest gets disposed of properly.

In addition to the river cleanup, Pregracke has launched a floating classroom barge where his staff educates high school students and teachers about the damages of pollution on river ecosystems. In 2007, his nonprofit implemented a program to plant 1 million trees along river shorelines to protect and restore the natural environment. The group is halfway to its goal.

Pregracke says his nonprofit has already held more than 700 cleanups on 23 rivers, but he says he’s just getting started. He views his work as a different kind of service to the country.

“A lot of people call me a conservationist or an environmentalist, but the thing is I’m no different than anybody else,” he said. “I just want to be known (as) a hardworking American.”

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