Page 6 - Hobe Sound Reflections - September '22
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Page 6, Hobe Sound

                                               busiNess spotliGht

      Kelley Decowski Joins EFMC                         Martin counties from 2004                           follow in the footsteps of their community-minded mom
                                                                                                             Her two children, Tyler and Sarah, are learning to
                                                         to 2014, before re-entering
      Board                                              the world of real estate as                       who says, “I think it’s really important for kids to learn
                                                         a full-time agent in 2014.                        about social responsibility from an early age. There are
      By Jackie Holfelder                                   As team  leader  at The                        all sorts of ways we can help other people and it’s not
         Kelley Decowski, an award-winning realtor at RE/MAX   Kelley Decowski Team at                     always monetary. Sometimes the best gift we can give is
      of Stuart, has joined the board of directors of the Education   RE/MAX  of  Stuart,  she’s           our time.”
      Foundation of Martin County (EFMC).                also known for philanthropic                         In her spare time, Decowski loves to run and is an
         Lisa Rhodes, executive director of the nonprofit shared   endeavors, which have                   avid reader.
      news that the Palm City resident has become part of the   always included education.                    She’s looking forward to working with the EFMC
      team that enriches and enhances educational opportunities   She says she joined the                  Board of Directors under the direction of EFMC’s new
      for all students and teachers in the Martin County School   EFMC board “in order                     executive  committee,  Kate  Cotner,  president;  Patrick
      District, through effective fundraising efforts, positive   to work with other like-                 McNealy, first vice president; Karina Talalay, second vice
      collaborative partnerships, innovative programming, and   minded individuals who   Kelley Decowski. Provided   president; Michael Moehring, treasurer; Tyson Waters,
      efficient allocation of resources.                 want nothing more than to   by Education Foundation of   secretary; and Arati Hammond, immediate past-president,
         Decowski is a product of the Martin County School   see our schools succeed.”  Martin County      to ensure that the not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), community
      District, graduating from Martin County High School in 1993.      Decowski  is  a  former            investment organization comprised of business leaders,
      She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in communicative   board member of Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast,   community volunteers, and school officials has its most
      disorders and a Master of Arts in English education from   past president of Hibiscus Children’s Center Guild, supporter   successful year ever.
      University of Central Florida.                     of Martin County High School and Gertrude Walden Child      To learn more about the Education Foundation of
         After working in real estate from 1997 to 2004,   Care Center. She’s also a member of Cleveland Clinic/Martin   Martin County, visit
      Decowksi  taught  in  public  schools  in  Orange  and   Health System’s Mum Ball committee.

      Good Works from page 5                                The mission of Communities Connected for Kids is   BIMWERX, Native Bloom and more. And, thanks to the
                                                         to enhance the safety, permanency and well-being for all   hard work of State Senator Gayle Harrell, who, together
         McCarthy combined data using Google Maps to     children in Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast through   with State Representative Dana Trabulsy, helped secure
      create a map that can be easily shared and embedded on   a community network of family support services.   an  additional  $1.3  million,  signed  by  Governor  Ron
      community partners’ websites in hopes that the nonprofit                                             DeSantis in June 2021.
      community will embrace the resource. In the future, he  Guardians For New Futures                       Addressing the crowd, Senator Harrell stated, “We
      hopes student volunteers will update and expand the map   Children’s Advocacy Center,                are a community-based system based  on  partnerships.
      to ensure that the listed resources remain up to date.                                               This is so key to the vision that the state of Florida has
         “We are fortunate to have many places people can   Ribbon Cutting Ceremony                        for taking care of children.”
      turn for help here in Martin County. I hope to continue to                                              The newly appointed President of Cleveland Clinic
      build awareness of food insecurity, so people feel more   And Celebration                            Martin Health’s Tradition Hospital, Dr. Madhu Sasidhar,
      empowered to reach out and get help.”                                                                also shared his thoughts,
         Applications  for  the  next  class  of  Students  United      Nearly 200 supporters of the new children’s advocacy      “The Cleveland Clinic has a long history of partnering
      members are open until Sept. 23 for students in grades 9 to   center accepted the invitation to celebrate the grand opening   with like-minded organizations to improve the lives of the
      11 who are Martin County residents. For more information   of the “Circle of Care,” designed to improve recovery   community we’re serving. Partnerships are key. We’re so much
      or to apply, visit United Way of Martin County’s website   outcomes for abused children within the 19th Circuit. The   more effective when we partner and collaborate with others.”
      at         vision for Guardians is to be the leading innovators in the      Karen McElveen with the Sebastian Exchange Club
         To access the Food Finder Map, visit www.       fight to end child abuse.                         presented a check for $10,000 to Chief Executive Officer                          The task of drawing the supporters to the facility, located   Caroline Vinyard to be allocated to a soon-to-come sensory
                                                         at 8561 S. Commerce Centre Drive in Port St. Lucie, proved   healing garden. The garden’s design will help children by
      Neighbor Who Took In Little                        to be reasonably easy. Bringing together the various child-  improving health outcomes. These gardens provide a place
                                                                                                           of refuge and promote healing in children, families, and the
                                                         welfare agencies under the same roof took time and funding.
      Girl Awarded For Advocacy                          Thanks to the unwavering determination of Guardians for   professionals working in the field. Any environment can
                                                         New Futures President Debbie Butler, things began to come   promote healing, but gardens are particularly able to do so
         Not all children have                           together. Quite incredibly the project was completed within   because humans are hard-wired to find nature engrossing
      advocates. Fortunately for                         just 16 months from the initial launch in January 2021 to   and soothing. Additional funding is needed.
      one 8-year-old girl in the                         completion in April 2022.                            For more information, or to sign up for our second
      local foster-care system,                             Many generous donors stepped forward, including   annual golf tournament, presented by Remnant
      Jenny Starts was there to be                       Peter Jones, Richard and Lori Tambone, Cleveland Clinic,   Construction on May 21 at St. Lucie Trail Golf Course,
      that advocate.                                     Andrew and Robin Hunt, Morgridge Family Foundation,   please visit
         Starts and her husband,
      Brent, took on the role
      of caregiver earlier this
      year when their friend and
      neighbor, who was a foster
      parent, could no longer care
      for the child.
         Communities Connected for Kids recently awarded
      Jenny the Topaz GEM – or Going the Extra Mile – award
      for her advocacy for the child’s dental and health care.
      Communities Connected for Kids oversees and coordinates
      the child-welfare  community in Indian  River,  Martin,
      Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.
         The little girl “ended up spending a lot of time with us
      when our friend’s mother passed away, so we said we could
      just keep her with us,” said Starts, a former foster care and
      adoptions recruiter in the California system of care.
         The couple began the process of becoming what is called
      a “Level 1” caregiver – someone who is licensed to care
      for a specific child rather than any child in need of a foster
      home. And that’s when the real advocacy began.
         “She had a need for dental care that required sedation
      that case management had been working on for several
      months,” said Mary Altiery, case management supervisor
      in Martin County who nominated Starts for the award.
         When an appointment in Orlando didn’t work out,
      Starts began working with case management to find a
      provider who could help.
         “Mrs. Starts was able to locate a local dental surgeon
      who was able to get the child in immediately,” Altiery said.
      “She went above and beyond in advocating for that little
      girl and to considerable time and expense to herself to get
      the child the dental care needed.”
         Starts’ tireless advocacy extends beyond her own home.
      She is currently in the process of opening a Christian-based
      school with her friend Meghan Pybus. The Stuart school
      opened its doors Aug. 15.
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