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Main Street workshops offer advice and mentoring to small business owners

Main Street workshops offer advice and mentoring to small business owners

Better Business Program classes

Main Street Fort Pierce held six Better Business Program classes for downtown merchants that covered subjects such as introduction to internet marketing and social media.


If providing expert advice and coaching for entrepreneurs can help new businesses avoid potholes on the road to success using the Business Accelerator Program, perhaps the same approach could be of use to business owners in Main Street programs.

That was the idea behind a pilot Better Business Program first suggested by the state Main Street organization to the Florida Small Business Development Center state headquarters. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Main Street Florida was anxious for downtown merchants to have access to business advice and expertise.

The state Florida SBDC office agreed and contacted Tom Kindred at the Florida SBDC at Indian River State College. Kindred had formerly been Main Street Fort Pierce manager prior to 1991. He created the pilot program for five Main Street organizations on the Treasure Coast: Fort Pierce, Lincoln Park, Vero Beach, Okeechobee and Stuart.

The Main Street Partnering for Better Business program consists of at least five training workshops, mentoring from experienced business consultants provided by the Florida SBDC and other services.

Main Street Fort Pierce and Vero Beach completed their programs this summer. Okeechobee and Stuart have programs scheduled and Lincoln Park has ongoing sessions.

“A partnership between historic business districts and the Florida SBDC is a natural [fit] because they are textbook owner-operators dealing with the challenges of a small business [often without any other help], and we provide assistance for that sector,” Kindred said.

“Logistically, they’re all in one geographic place, so it’s easier for us [at SBDC] to provide service and advice [to individual merchants if needed]. It’s a natural partnership that just makes sense.”

Pamela Carithers,  Lincoln Park Main Street

Pamela Carithers,
Lincoln Park Main Street

Lincoln Park is an economically disadvantaged area of northwest Fort Pierce that has long been plagued by crime, poverty and a low rate of new business formation.

Pamela Carithers, Lincoln Park Main Street’s manager, said that Clifton Vaughn, a Florida SBDC business consultant, scheduled five free workshops for September and October.

The long-term intent behind the program, Carithers said, is to establish one-on-one mentoring relationships with experienced business development professionals in the region. It is hoped that this will enhance business and entrepreneurial skills, create jobs and assist in the expansion and growth of the Lincoln Park business community.

The free workshops ran from Sept. 7 through Oct. 5 and were held at the Blackburn Center on Avenue D. The sessions concentrated on polishing marketing skills, particularly in the digital and social media arenas. Other workshops on time management and examining the importance of maintaining better financial literacy [gaining access to capital, recordkeeping, etc.] were also covered.

In addition to the no-cost one-on-one consulting, the course also included three hours of website analysis and participating businesses received exposure via the SBDC’s Small Business Florida radio show.

As an added incentive, participating businesses were eligible for up to a $500 grant if they completed four of the five sessions. The money must be used for business enhancement services.

Carithers noted that new business formation and activity had enjoyed reasonable success pre-COVID, but there was a sense of complacency in some parts of the community. Post-COVID, she said, “people have had to reinvent themselves. The shutdown caused people to rethink where they are, and more people are launching new businesses. I hope that continues.”

Here are other Treasure Coast Main Street programs that have successfully completed the series of workshops.

Doris Tillman, Fort Pierce Main Street

Doris Tillman, Fort Pierce Main Street

One such group is the [downtown] Fort Pierce Main Street organization. Longtime manager Doris Tillman, who celebrated beginning her 31st year in the position in August, noted that “when COVID happened, it was a big shock to everybody. [Downtown] Fort Pierce was forced to shut down. We did all we could to support local businesses.

“After the state Main Street organization disseminated information about grant aid, we reached out to Tom Kindred [of the Florida SBDC at IRSC]. He came here to personally interview business owners about grants that could help them.

“The biggest problem we’ve encountered is that some of our business owners are a bit lax in keeping financial records and bookkeeping,” she said. “It’s tough for them to come up with the required paperwork.”

To publicize the training program, Tillman said she advertised on Facebook through the Downtown Business Association, targeting hospitality and retail clothing businesses. Main Street Fort Pierce offered six classes covering the areas of understanding sales and marketing, an introduction to internet marketing and social media. Time management and financial literacy were also covered.

Tillman noted there was a “very, very high level of enthusiasm among business owners. They got very excited learning new stuff.”

Susan Gromis, Vero Beach Main Street

Susan Gromis, Vero Beach Main Street

Main Street Vero Beach also volunteered to launch its own Better Business Program. Manager Susan Gromis reported that the workshops ended in September and that 11 businesses took part.

Unlike Fort Pierce Main Street’s concentration on downtown merchants, Vero Beach attendees are more spread across the city, including the executive director of a nonprofit agency, Gromis said.

Gromis said participants were “very interested in the knowledge” they are acquiring. “I’ve gotten very positive feedback and they really enjoy the lectures,” she said.

Gromis had hoped for more participants but said the short time frame in which they had to pull the program together and its timing in August, when some business owners were traveling or on vacation, may have contributed to the relatively low numbers. She had hoped for 35-40 people at the lectures. Perhaps adjusting the dates of future sessions would help, Gromis suggested.

Paulette Wise, executive director of the Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce, reached out to Kindred at the Florida SBDC to take part in the Better Business program in partnership with Main Street Okeechobee.

Wise said classes were scheduled to run throughout September and into early October.
“But I think it’s going to be great,” Wise said. “It’s early days [as far as assessing the number of businesses taking part], “but we will be sending out more details of the classes using social media and personal emails to all our 300 members. SBDC is beginning to come into our community and I’m looking forward to that happening.”

The Main Street Better Business Program looks to be a valuable and useful precursor to more advice and mentoring from SBDC subject experts. So far, all participants have shown great interest and enthusiasm in learning more about the basics of business. More in-depth classes are just over the horizon and should help strengthen this important sector of the local business community.

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Magazine Inc. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Nov. 29, 2021|

Roads to recovery

Roads to recovery

Orange Blossom Business Center on Okeechobee Road

St. Lucie County’s government officials plan to use part of the federal funds to prevent flooding issues in Lakewood Park and at the Orange Blossom Business Center on Okeechobee Road. The business center was underwater in 2017 after Hurricane Irma hit the area causing drainage canals to overflow their banks.

County governments allocate rescue funds for infrastructure projects


Here comes the cavalry.

One year after the federal government provided CARES funding to help small businesses and individuals recover from the financial shock of COVID-19, help is arriving for local governments who lost revenue and expended huge sums on pandemic-related services.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law by President Biden in March, is intended to continue the nation’s economic recovery process. In addition to compensating municipalities for lost revenue and personnel costs, ARPA looks to the future and seeks to help local governments harden their infrastructure. In the process, it is hoped such work will breed improved economic growth.

Under ARPA, Congress allocated $650 billion to be distributed by local governments to assist with public health costs, negative economic impacts, replacing public sector revenue losses, giving pay supplements to essential workers and investing in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure projects.

Local governments had until May to create plans for distributing this money; funds must be expended by the end of 2026.

The three county governments on the Treasure Coast have received the first half of their total allocations, which eventually will amount to around a collective $94 million. These funds are for use in unincorporated counties and the numbers do not include separate allocations to individual cities.

How they intend to spend this windfall varies from county to county.

St. Lucie County, as the largest Treasure Coast entity, has taken the long view and intends to use its $63 million allocation largely for infrastructure projects that until now have been cost-prohibitive.

Other counties are taking a wait-and-see approach to spending their funds. Martin intends to use more money than St. Lucie on smaller expenditures, but will use 75% of its allocation on infrastructure. Indian River County, roughly the same size and population
as Martin, is taking a different approach.

Chris Dzadovsky

Chris Dzadovsky, chairman of the St. Lucie County Commission

Through a series of informal meetings and budget workshops, the county commission reviewed more than 100 separate projects suggested by county staff.

In August, it set aside:

• $55.1 million to be invested in capital projects falling under the water, sewer or broadband infrastructure category;
• $6.1 million to support the public health response to COVID; and
• $2.4 million to address adverse economic impacts caused by the pandemic.

“These funds will go a long way in making up significant infrastructure improvements within our communities with a strong emphasis on water-quality projects and economic development,” Commission Chairman Chris Dzadovsky said.

He said county staff would, as always, leverage federal funds with matching grants to ensure residents get the largest return on the investment.

The St. Lucie infrastructure expenditures are intended to address long-standing inadequacies in several areas in the county:

• $34.1 million for water and sewer lines expansion in Lakewood Park and along Midway Road;
• $17.8 million on collecting/treating stormwater countywide, including vulnerable areas in White City, Indian River Estates, Sunland Gardens and Harmony Heights neighborhoods; and
• Additional work will be done in improving drainage and water-quality issues in Ten Mile Creek, Indrio Savannas and Hog Pen Slough, many of which directly impact the North Fork of the St. Lucie River and then the Indian River Lagoon.

The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council has long played an advisory role in economic development throughout the region. Its COVID Recovery Task Force has been meeting for several months to coordinate and align members’ economic development efforts.

The task force surveyed regional needs and found a mixed bag. According to Thomas Lanahan, executive director, the council wants to share best practices and fine-tune individual projects, even though regional planners have no direct financial control of county budgets.

Lanahan noted there are many costly, long-neglected projects on the Treasure Coast that have foundered for primarily financial constraints. Lanahan said using ARPA funds might help bring some of these previously out-of-reach projects to fruition.

“[The COVID epidemic] has brought so much suffering,” Lanahan noted. “Wouldn’t it be great if something good could come out of it? Frittering away funds on a thousand small projects would be sad.

“For instance, the WPA [Works Progress Administration] after the Great Depression left us with a legacy of post offices, bridges and other public works projects that had a phenomenal effect [on people’s lives],” he said. “Wouldn’t it be good if our assets lasted long enough to benefit those who built them?”

Lanahan went on to note that with today’s interest rates at historical lows, this would be a great time to invest in costly infrastructure. While this approach met with an enthusiastic response from county officials on the task force, ultimately the spending decisions come down to local elected officials, who may have different priorities.

stormwater retention project in White City

Although the stormwater retention project in White City is funded with money from other sources, it is typical of the sort of project St. Lucie County is planning to use its rescue funds on.

George Stokus

George Stokus, Martin County assistant county administrator

George Stokus, Martin County’s assistant county administrator, is taking a cautious approach to allocating his county’s ARPA funds. Stokus had similar responsibilities with CARES funding and noted how federal rules kept changing over time. He expects the same thing to occur with ARPA funds, noting that the rules for the latter are more restrictive.

Rather than being caught flat-footed after spending big amounts of money, Stokus prefers to keep his powder dry and allocate smaller sums at a time.

In particular, Martin County is working on addressing the harm COVID inflicted on low- to moderately-low income residents. County officials have been mapping specific areas of need in the county – from emergency food supplies [through the Salvation Army and House of Hope] to expanding childcare services, which Stokus sees as a huge” need for many working parents who cannot afford to take time off work to look after their children.

The county is working on grant aid programs to ease the childcare dilemma for lower income parents.

Martin County does have some bigger spending priorities. Stokus noted that “ARPA pushes counties into capital projects. Seventy-five percent of our $31 million allocation will go to stormwater and septic-to-sewer and other capital projects. Yet people are still struggling. It’s a roughly 70-30 split between capital and ongoing spending priorities. It’s our job to put the pipes in the ground.”

So, along with allocating a $13 million capital sewer systems fund, the county is also setting aside $2.6 million for small business needs.

“There’s a strong need for raising capital to help small businesses,” Stokus explained. “That’s particularly pressing in the restaurant industry.”

Martin intends to allocate $3.5 million toward the REACH Center at the airport in Stuart, a project done in conjunction with Indian River State College to provide continuing education and career guidance services.

Martin County will also allocate $1 million toward enhancing broadband communications in specific areas such as Palm City Ranches. This is a relatively affluent neighborhood where many residents formerly drove to Palm Beach County for work. Many found working from home during the pandemic problematic because of poor internet connections.

“ARPA is an infusion of cash into the local economy,” Stokus said. “The feds have reset the work cycle. Our commissioners see value in long-term infrastructure and in creating [conditions] that are good for neighborhoods.”

Yet having $31 million in ARPA funding is only the beginning, Stokus believes.

“We need to turn that $30 million into $100 million with matching grants,” he said. “It’s all about capitalizing on the federal money. If the apple tree is there, you need to pick it!”

Thomas Lanahan

Thomas Lanahan, executive director of Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.

Indian River County’s allocations approach runs somewhere between the extremes of St. Lucie and Martin counties.

While Indian River does propose spending $3 million of its $31 million total allocation on water/sewer and broadband infrastructure projects, commissioners voted to spend a combined $5.5 million on payments to essential workers [$1.4 million] and on responses to the public health emergency [$4.9 million]. These include the enhanced cleaning of public buildings, miscellaneous quarantine-like expenses such as providing Plexiglas screens and dividers. The county also wants to help small businesses recover.

One interesting project that may or may not qualify for ARPA funding is the creation of a satellite campus at the old Fellsmere Inn in partnership with Indian River State College. The site would include a commercial bed and breakfast operation that would provide jobs and continuing education opportunities for residents along with a new revenue stream for the county.

Kristen Daniels, director of the Indian River County office of management and budget, noted that despite the county’s healthy growth rate of 6.14%, there have been serious shortfalls in utilities, debt service and internal service revenue streams to the tune of $19.7 million. The county will use a portion of its ARPA funds to address some of that shortfall.

So, will the massive pot of federal money that ARPA brings be enough to redress imbalances caused by the pandemic? And will the virus’ continued mutation and virulence only bring bigger bills in the future?

ARPA provides desperately-needed assistance to beleaguered local government, after CARES funding helped small business owners and individuals through paycheck programs.

ARPA is a federal stimulus program that attempts to keep control of the purse strings in the hands of those at the local level. Perhaps one day we will no longer need such enormous financial help from the federal government. Until then ARPA recipients must leverage all the help they can get to spread the wealth as widely as possible and bring impetus to the nation’s economic recovery.

See the original article in the print publication

Treasure Coast Business is a news service and magazine published in print, via e-newsletter and online at by Indian River Magazine Inc. For more information or to report news email [email protected]

Nov. 29, 2021|

It’s a perfect time for small business owners to explore borrowing options

In traveling throughout the Treasure Coast region, speaking with business owners, operators and economic development leaders, one issue is clear — the region is growing
Nov. 1, 2021|

Treasure Coast Business Newsletter 10.26.21

EDC Wins | 25th Anniversary | Martin County Teacher Of The Year

St. Lucie EDC wins statewide awards

The Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County (EDC) received statewide recognition for the organization’s efforts in bringing the new FedEx Ground Regional Sortation Center to Port St. Lucie. Read More>>

St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity
celebrates 25th anniversary

St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity celebrates its 25th year of building and repairing homes in St. Lucie County. To honor this milestone, Treasure Coast Lexus is hosting the Home for the Holidays Celebration and bringing the community together to help build three new Habitat homes.  Read More>>

Helping People Succeed welcomes new leadership in Children’s Behavioral Health 


Geared towards building a strong alliance between therapist, child and family, Children’s Behavioral Health Services has recently added two important new team members.  Read More>> 

Help select the next Martin County
 Teacher of the Year

One teacher from each school is nominated by his or her colleagues and must submit a comprehensive written portfolio and participate in an intensive interview process. Read More>>

Jobs with Indian River Media Group

Indian River Media Group, the fastest-growing media company on the Treasure Coast, is seeking additional account sales representatives in Indian River and Brevard counties. Our award-winning company produces eight magazines on the Treasure and Space coasts. Full- and part-time positions available. Ability to work from home. Previous print and digital advertising sales experience preferred. E-mail resume and note about relevant experience to [email protected] or call 772.466.3346.
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Oct. 30, 2021|

Help Select the next Martin County  Teacher of the Year

Help Select the next Martin County Teacher of the Year

This is one ballot everyone loves to cast: selecting the Martin County Teacher of the Year!

The Education Foundation of Martin County (EFMC) has announced the honorees for the 2021-22 school year.

  • Cynthia Ganther - Bessey Creek Elementary School
  • Tammy Reinhart - Citrus Grove Elementary School
  • Kelly DiGrazia - Crystal Lake Elementary School
  • Tonya Belvin - Dr. David L. Anderson Middle School
  • Jessica Urbay - Felix A. Williams Elementary School
  • Laura Bianco - Hidden Oaks Middle School
  • Rachel Hoilman - Hobe Sound Elementary School
  • Diane Connelly - The Hope Center for Autism
  • Sandra Racette - Indiantown Middle School
  • LaShawnda McNair - J.D. Parker School of Science, Math & Technology
  • Donna Vojcsik - Jensen Beach Elementary School
  • Nicole Lavelle - Jensen Beach Elementary School
  • Kelloryn Kalwa - Martin County High School
  • Nicole Hammond - Murray Middle School
  • Crystal Hallee - Palm City Elementary School
  • Jennifer Arey - Pinewood Elementary School
  • Amy Jackson- Port Salerno Elementary School
  • Damaris Mendez - Riverbend Academy
  • Lauren Favors - SeaWind Elementary School
  • Jeanine Bushman - South Fork High School
  • Kirsten Pendleton - Treasure Coast Classical Academy
  • Elliott Harris - Warfield Elementary School
  • Lani Bartsch - Willoughby Learning Center

One teacher from each school is nominated by his or her colleagues and must submit a comprehensive written portfolio and participate in an intensive interview process.

Here’s where you come in. Members of the community also vote, sharing how a favorite teacher has made a difference to their students and the community.

Voting is now open. Visit to place yours and share your heartwarming story.

On Friday, December 10, three of the 23 nominees from elementary, middle and high school levels will be recognized at the Education Foundation of Martin County's Teacher of the Year Awards Celebration, a gala and fun-filled event which will take place at MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center in Port St. Lucie. There will be one winner in each category.

 The overall Martin County Teacher of the Year will be chosen from this trio and go on to represent Martin County in the Florida Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year competition.

Sponsors include Audi Stuart, Infiniti Stuart, Alfa Romeo Stuart, Keiser University, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union and EFMC.

For sponsorship information, contact Lisa Rhodes, Executive Director, EFMC at (772) 600-8062 or [email protected].


Oct. 25, 2021|

Helping People Succeed welcomes new leadership in Children’s Behavioral Health 

Helping People Succeed welcomes new leadership in Children’s Behavioral Health

You’re probably familiar with Helping People Succeed’s many programs – including job skills preparation and healthy families’ initiatives – but did you know the nonprofit also has a children’s behavioral health services program?

Geared towards building a strong alliance between therapist, child and family, Children’s Behavioral Health Services has recently added two important new team members.

Bonnie Russo, LCSW, QS, the new Clinical Director, has more than a decade of experience treating complex trauma cases.

Joining Russo is Vonetta Erskine, BSN, MSN-PMHNP, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Erskine brings 11 plus years of experience working with diverse patient populations in acute care settings.

“To say I love what I do would be an understatement. I see the way that therapy transforms the lives of the children and families we serve and I am very excited to be involved in improving the mental health and quality of life for our clients”, says Russo.

Erskine’s enthusiasm is contagious. “My calling is to help kids who are underserved”, she says. “I can’t wait to be able to share my Helping People Succeed success stories.”

They join a team of highly skilled therapists who are providing specialized outpatient mental counseling to children and teens ages five through 18.

Helping People Succeed’s Children’s Behavioral Health Services program has the ability to meet online, in schools or homes, or in neutral safe spaces, like parks.

Importantly, appointments are available almost immediately, not six to nine months in the future like some other facilities require. Residents of Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties can avail themselves of services.

Any child can receive services; they need not be a previous or current Helping People Succeed client.

For any youngster dealing with depression, anxiety, ADHD, reconnecting after COVID isolation or any related issues, help is just a phone call away.

Payment options include private insurance and Florida Kid Care. Helping People Succeed bills for its services on a sliding scale and also provides links to social services agencies that may be able to provide financial support.

Contact Helping People Succeed at 772-320-0770 or for information.


Oct. 25, 2021|

St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity Celebrates 25th Anniversary

St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity
Celebrates 25th Anniversary

This December, St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity celebrates its 25th year of building and repairing homes in St. Lucie County. To honor this milestone, Treasure Coast Lexus is hosting the Home for the Holidays Celebration and bringing the community together to help build three new Habitat homes. On December 11th, 2021 from 6-9pm, guests will enjoy cocktails, dinner, music, and a one-of-a-kind live auction in the newly renovated Lexus showroom. Proceeds from the event will go toward building the three Habitat homes that will make homeownership possible for Paulette Coakley and her two kids, John (13) and Sa’Rae (10), Patsy Collins and her grandson Gary (9), and Tameshia Martin and her son Antwan (16).

For 25 years, St. Lucie Habitat for Humanity has been driven by the vision that everyone deserves a decent place to live. The organization partners with low-income working families to build or improve upon a place for them to call home. Habitat homebuyers help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage that includes real estate taxes and insurance. This creates a situation where homeowners can save more, invest in education, pursue opportunity, and have more financial stability. Since 1996, St. Lucie Habitat has provided housing solutions to over 220 local families.

Home for the Holidays Celebration tickets are being sold for $125 and sponsorships start at $1,500. All sponsorships include tickets to the event and optional Construction Site Team Builds. Visit or call 772.464.1117 ext. 121 to purchase tickets or sponsor the Celebration.

Oct. 25, 2021|

St. Lucie EDC wins statewide awards

St. Lucie EDC wins statewide awards

The Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County (EDC) on Oct. 14 received statewide recognition for the organization’s efforts in bringing the new FedEx Ground Regional Sortation Center to Port St. Lucie.

The Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC) designated the FedEx project as the state’s 2021 Urban Deal of the Year at its recent conference in Orlando.  The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the location/expansion of business in urban communities within the state of Florida.

While the location of the 245,000-square-foot facility in Tradition’s Southern Grove area and the 900 new jobs FedEx is planning to bring to the city were important factors for the award, the most significant element of the business recruitment project was that it kickstarted Legacy Park at Tradition.

This 425-acre class-A industrial park being developed by the Sansone Group at Interstate 95 and Becker Road is anticipated to ultimately include more than 5.4 million square feet of industrial space and create more than 2,500 jobs with payrolls exceeding $100 million annually.

“We are extremely proud to have this pivotal economic development project celebrated as the top urban development project in Florida,” said Pete Tesch, EDC president. “The Sansone family, our partners at the city and county, FedEx Ground, and commercial real estate professionals Alex Pappas and Robert Smith all played major roles in this success.”

“Speed-to-market was one of the more important aspects of this project. FedEx needed to be operating out of this facility prior to the busy holiday season,” said Jill Marasa, EDC vice president of business retention and expansion. “The city’s development review team completed site plan review and master site plan approval in just 108 days.”

The EDC also won a statewide FEDC innovation in marketing award for an update to its website,  Working with Marketing Alliance, a company which specializes in economic development, tourism and real estate marketing and branding, EDC staff utilized a $7,500 Team Florida grant to improve the site’s graphics, navigation, content and tools.

An interactive sites and buildings portal with a robust GIS platform, direct connect to Zoom Prospector, virtual site-selector familiarization tours, video highlights of key attributes of St. Lucie County, and dynamic property digital videos highlighting hot properties are all featured on the updated website. The Virtual Business Resource Center, a one-stop web portal for essential COVID recovery information was also created for the site during 2020.



Oct. 25, 2021|

Salvation Army seeking Red Kettle  Sponsors and Ringers

Salvation Army seeking Red Kettle Sponsors and Ringers


The fall season has only just begun but The Salvation Army is already gearing up for the upcoming holiday season, actively recruiting bell ringers and sponsors for their red kettle fundraising campaign.

“The Salvation Army Red Kettle program is our largest fundraiser of the year,” says Captain Jeff Marquis, corps officer for the The Salvation Army in Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee Counties. “Even though this program is only at Christmas time, we rely on these funds to sustain our mission of serving the community year-round.”

The Salvation Army provides basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and financial assistance to thousands of people in crisis along the Treasure Coast every year. Every donation given in a red kettle stays in the county in which it was raised to support those services but, in order to ensure a successful campaign, the more than 50 red kettles in the three counties must be manned.

“Anyone can volunteer to be a bell ringer,” says Kim Johnson, Director of Development for the local corps. “Individuals, families, social clubs, school clubs, church groups and musical groups. Some volunteers will really have fun with it and dress up or play an instrument or sing and dance along with Christmas music. Others just bring a chair and sit and ring the bell and say ‘thank you’ when a donation is given. We’re flexible. We just appreciate every volunteer.”

She explains that the bell ringing schedule is set up in two-hour timeslots. If a group books a full day of bell ringing, from 10 am to roughly 8 pm, The Salvation Army will recognize them on the kettle sign and on social media.

Businesses can also receive recognition as kettle sponsors. “Kettle sponsors are vitally important because we never have enough volunteers to cover all our kettles,” Johnson explains. “The sponsorships enable us to fill those empty timeslots by offering paid bell ringing positions to some of our clients in need.”

Sponsorships range from $125 per kettle per day to $1500 for the holiday season. In return, businesses will have their name or logo on the kettle sign at their chosen location and be recognized on social media.

To sponsor a kettle, visit or call 772-288-1471, ext. 202. To volunteer to ring bells for The Salvation Army, visit or call 772-288-1471, ext. 216.

Oct. 17, 2021|

Homebuilding industry CEO receives  HearthStone Builder Humanitarian Award

Homebuilding industry CEO receives
HearthStone Builder Humanitarian Award



GreenPointe Holdings, LLC proudly announces President and CEO Ed Burr has received the 2021 Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award, recognizing builders who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to public service. Burr, the Founder and Board Chairman of the Monique Burr Foundation for Children (MBF), is this year’s Private Builder Honoree. MBF received a $138,000 donation from the Hearthstone Foundation in Burr’s honor.

“Ed is a true leader in the homebuilding and development industry, and his contributions to public service exemplify the core values of this award,” said Rick Beckwitt, co-CEO and co-President of Lennar. “The prevention education programs that MBF has provided to over 5 million children and teens throughout Florida and the United States are truly inspiring.”

Founded in 1997 by Burr in honor of his late wife, Monique Burr, a devoted child advocate, MBF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the best prevention education programs to protect children and teens from victimization. MBF Prevention Education Programs are evidence-based/evidence-informed prevention programs that educate and empower children (and adults) with information and strategies to prevent, recognize and respond appropriately to abuse, bullying, cyberbullying, digital dangers, exploitation, and human trafficking. More than 5,000 facilitators have delivered MBF Programs to over 5 million students in the United States and five additional countries.

Burr’s leadership and engagement extends to numerous civic, community and charitable organizations. Burr served on the Florida State University Board of Trustees for more than 10 years including as Chair from 2015 to 2021. Burr also served on the FSU Foundation Board of Trustees, Seminole Boosters Board of Directors and College of Business Real Estate Education and Research Board.

“Ed cares deeply about making the world a better place and has exceeded all expectations with his efforts,” said John Thrasher, Partner, The Southern Group and former President of Florida State University. “I admire his leadership, dedication and commitment to advancing our community, state, and nation.”

Burr is a leading voice in the Jacksonville business community and has served as a volunteer leader of the JAX Chamber for more than 20 years. Burr served as Chair of the Chamber Board of Directors in 2006 and is a longtime chair of the Government Affairs Committee. Burr has supported JAXUSA Partnership, the Chamber’s economic development division, and JAXBIZ, the Chamber’s political committee.

Currently serving on the Board of the Florida Council of 100, Burr previously served as Chairman of the Board for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, Jacksonville Civic Council and Jacksonville Country Day School. Burr is actively involved in several national and regional development organizations, including a past board member of the Northeast Florida Builders Association, a full member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and a founding member of the ULI Center for Leadership.

Since 1999, the Hearthstone BUILDER award has contributed more than $6 million to various charities, making it the single largest charitable award program in the homebuilding industry. Burr was recognized in the May 2021 issue of BUILDER magazine and honored at the BUILDER 100 conference in September that same year. In addition to Burr, Taylor Morrison Chairman and CEO Sheryl Palmer is the 2021 Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award Public Company honoree.

Award sponsors include Hearthstone, BUILDER, Zonda, Allen Matkins, Bank of America, Barraco & Associates, Inc., Bono’s of America, Buildstrong Education, Capital City Consulting, LLC, CIBC, Crosbie Gliner Schiffman Southard and Swanson, LLP, Developers Researches, First American Title Insurance Co., The Fiorentino Group, Garbett Homes, Gore Lieske & Associates, Great Southern Homes, Hampton Golf, Hayden Homes, Kohler, Land Adviser Capital, Morgan Stanley, PACS, Inc., Pulte Group, Therma-Tru Doors, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., and Whirlpool Corporation.

For more information on GreenPointe and their communities, visit

Oct. 17, 2021|