Volunteers Make the Difference

by: Raffi Darrow, Ebytes Editor
The Shorecrest Community Association hosted an appreciation breakfast to thank all school volunteers for what they did to make the 2018-2019 school year so special.

Headmaster Mike Murphy kicked off the event by listing all of the ways SCA helps the school, both within and outside of the SCA committees. Committees include: The Big Event, Book Fair, Book Buddies, Box Tops, Carline Greeters, Fall Festival, Grandparent Council - including Grandparents and Special Friends Day, Holiday Greenery, Helping Hands, Holiday Gift Drive, Hospitality, Shorecrest Cares, School Supplies, Janet Root Award, Oldie Goldie Book Sale, Parent Ambassadors welcoming new families to the school, Teacher Appreciation Day and Uniform Sales.

Grandparent Council Chair Donna Gaffney came forward to introduce the day’s guest speaker, International and New York Times Bestselling author and Shorecrest parent Ashley Rhodes-Courter and her topic "The importance of volunteerism and giving back."

Donna met a young Ashley many years ago at a Ft. De Soto picnic for children in the foster care system, where she was judging an essay contest. After reading an essay including information about Ashley’s past - being shuttled between at least 14 foster care homes, many of which were abusive - Donna thought to herself, “How does a child going through this adapt?”

“Ashley triumphed!” Donna shared. “Despite her ordeal, Ashley excelled in school because she believed, ‘my education was the one thing nobody could take from me.’ She has spoken on Capitol Hill and has been invited to the White House twice. And I am most appreciative of her tireless advocacy for children.”

In a twist of fate that Ashley acknowledged when she spoke, two of her children now attend Shorecrest, where Donna’s granddaughters are students.
Ashley says she succeeded in life because she believed, “I could be something better than what my circumstances projected for me.”

After academics saved her life by providing new opportunities and safe spaces, she was determined to find the best educational opportunities for her children.

“I’m so grateful to have my children attending a school that values community,” she shared with the guests. “Your contributions enable children the opportunity to survive. Your small acts of kindness lay the foundation for things you can’t even imagine. Thank you for all that you’re doing. You’ll never know your impact.”

The volunteer breakfast is also when the annual recipient of the Janet Root Volunteer Service Award is announced each year. Last year’s winner, Corrie Stover ‘90, was there to present the 2018-19 award.

“As most of you know, The Janet Root Volunteer of the Year Award was established by the Shorecrest Parent Association in 1984 as a commemoration of Janet’s lengthy and countless volunteer efforts and as a means of recognizing other outstanding Shorecrest volunteers. Today we continue Janet’s legacy by honoring those who have shown an outstanding volunteer commitment to Shorecrest,” Corrie began.

“I’d first like to thank all of you for volunteering. Taking the time to help our community and our kids is an amazing way to show spirit and commitment to this family. This year we had a tremendous pool of volunteers, who have helped across many areas for several years, but there are two who go above and beyond over and over. Two that show the leadership, passion, and vision as Janet Root. Two that complete the task, fill in the blanks, and find the answers, no matter how difficult it may seem, or how small the favor. These two have been part of our community of over 12 years and both have pitched in to help since setting foot on campus. As I looked over their lists of volunteer hours and positions, I realized how similar and intertwined they are.  

“I have worked side by side with these two, and no matter what the event they always make it fun, or at the very least, entertaining. They have touched each area of our community from class rep, to teacher appreciation, Duathlon, Big Event, greenery, Parent Ambassador, New Parent Dinner, Baccalaureate Dinner, Shorecrest Cares, Book Fair, Library, Grandparents Day, Team Parent, Booster Club and even Boy Scouts.

“They both hit their stride in the Janet Root Theatre. Donating blood, sweat, and tears… lots of tears… they made our theatre like a home for the student-actors. They collaborated on costumes and sets, counseled panicked and exhausted teens, and applauded from backstage and behind the scenes.

“I’d like to read excerpts from nomination forms about these volunteers.

“I have known (this volunteer) for over a decade, even before my kids attended Shorecrest. She was a perfect ambassador for the school and encouraged us to apply. Once I got to Shorecrest, I was blown away by her dedication to the theater program as well as her high standards for educational and moral excellence. She has helped countless kids whether through housing, college advice, or just being a good listener. Once her passion is ignited, she is unstoppable. This is a trait she shares with Janet Root. Both a force to be reckoned with, both serving the good of the arts, the good of the students, and the good of the community. For these reasons, I wholeheartedly nominate her for Volunteer of the Year.”

“This was written about our other recipient:

“I cannot think of anyone more deserving than (this volunteer) for the Janet Root Volunteer of the Year Award. She has been serving the Shorecrest Community since her son started Kindergarten. She embodies the essence of the award with the willingness to help in any area of the school while doing so with grace and a smile.”

“Both women also opened their homes to students whose families were moving right before senior year. This kind gift made it possible for each student to stay and graduate with their classmates from Shorecrest, with much appreciation from the families, students, and school community.

“Volunteers like these and like the table of past recipients over there, tend to show up and fill in where needed. They don’t do it for a resume or for recognition, just simply for the kids and to help our fellow parents and teachers. That’s why this is so perfect for these two today. I can’t think of two more deserving volunteers and I’m so happy to award two of my favorite people…

“Congratulations Anne Dowling and Heather O’Neill as this year’s Janet Root Volunteers of the Year!”

Each year at the volunteer breakfast a new SCA Board is instituted. Many thanks go to the 2018-2019 SCA Board for all of their time and hard work: President Tara Gaffney ‘96, Vice President Lisa Hahn, Co-Treasurers Rebecca Reeder and Jaren Wright, Volunteer Coordinator Samantha Nevins and Secretary Jennifer Casanta.

Presidents Lisa Hahn and Tara Gaffney '96, Vice Presidents Lindsey Lamb and Jennifer Phelps, Secretaries Corrie Stover '90 and Jennifer Casanta, Treasurers Jaren Wright and Sam Soth, and Volunteer Coordinators Samantha Nevins and Rebecca Armacost.

Look for information on shorecrest.org later this summer regarding ways you can get involved next school year at Shorecrest. Thank you to all of our special volunteers!

View more photos from the event here:

Shorecrest

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.