Calendar of Events

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West Volusia Events

09/28/2021 - AM Connection
10/05/2021 - AM Connection
​Please join us at Gateway Center for the Arts, 

10/07/2021 - Comedy Night with Orny Adams

Spend a night laughing til it hurts! Cristy B Comedy presents headliner Orny Adams. He is a stand up comedian who's brutally honest, satirical and his performance is ceaselessly energetic.

Doors open 7pm with live music. Tickets can be purchased at

10/12/2021 - AM Connection
10/19/2021 - AM Connection
10/22/2021 - Senator Rubio's Local Office
10/26/2021 - AM Connection
10/30/2021 - Dead Celebrity Ball and Lil' Monsters Mash

Save the date! On Saturday, October 30, 2021, The Plaza Resort & Spa is hosting its inaugural Dead Celebrity Ball from 7:00pm - 11:00pm!

Start planning your costume now! Come dressed as your favorite dead celebrity or TV/movie character and be ready to take home the top PRIZE for best costume. The evening will also be filled with incredible entertainment and live music. Tickets are available for $125 per person and include food, soft drinks, beer, wine, and complimentary self-parking.

Make it a family affair with our Lil' Monsters Mash! It’s a perfect evening for the kids while you’re competing for best costume. From 6:30pm to 11:00pm, your little monsters (ages 4-14) can dress up in costumes while they dance to a DJ, play games, and enjoy snacks & drinks for $15 per child ($20 at the door). Limited to two children per adult. Space is limited!

Turn your Halloween night into a weekend with our Elevator Home Rate. Follow the link below to secure your overnight accommodations at a discounted rate. Room reservations can be booked online or by calling (855) 327-5292. During your stay, be sure to check out our All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast Buffet in 1888.

For more information, please visit us at:

11/02/2021 - AM Connection
 Vote for your Halo Angel Now! Voting closes on October 8th.
To vote click here:

Nominees for Mental Health Category:
  • The House Next Door
The House Next Door has been providing counseling services for the past 44 year. They have serviced over 50,000+ families and have (2) locations in West Volusia, one in DeLand and another location in Deltona. They continue to provide West Volusia with community-based mental health counseling and family centered programs. Their prevention programs include high-risk youths and family centered programs.
  • Central Florida Pregnancy Center
The Central Florida Pregnancy Center offers lay counseling for women and mothers/expectant mothers with the aim of offering empathic and loving care for them during times of uncertainty and stress regardless of age, race, income, nationality, religious affiliation, disability, or arbitrary circumstances.
  • Road to Thrive Counseling Services
Road to Thrive Counseling Services was started by Zonovia Proctor MS, NCC who has dedicated her career to the betterment of others’ mental health. She began her practice in September of 2020, and her practice focuses on engaging and empowering people to find themselves in a safe space where they can be true to themselves without judgement, and instead with love and support so that an individual is able to thrive. Ms. Proctor was also an educator previously, and she frequently gives seminars as well as consultations to businesses.
  • A Helping Hand Inc.
A Helping Hand Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides mental health services in Volusia, Flagler and Putnam county to low income families as well as children who are in foster care and have experienced trauma and are dealing with behavioral and mental health issues. Even though like many areas, they are short on therapists and case managers and are in the middle of a pandemic, they are still able to stay focused on providing needed services to children and families dealing with so much. They are able to provide services in the home, school, preschool etc. and through telehealth and provide not only therapy, but their case managers help link children to needed mental health, educational, social and economic needed services. They are great group of people who focus on helping others and being there for the needs of the children and families they serve.
Nominees for Housing Category:
  • LaNaya Martin
LayNaya Martin is part of the Neighborhood Center’s team, where she works in housing as their Outreach Coordinator. It is clear that she is very compassionate about her work. She goes above and beyond to help their clients that stop in or call. She has helped at least 50% or more of her clients through the Neighborhood Center’s Rapid Rehousing Program. She’s an extremely hardworker and goes out of her way to help house the homeless and does it with a smile and an amazing attitude. She doesn’t get credit she deserves but gives 1000% to her duties every day.
  • Ginger Chattman
Ginger Chattmen is part of the Neighborhood Center’s team as their Outreach Housing Navigator. Ginger goes out to the homeless camps and brings them food, toiletries, etc. and talks to them about the Neighborhood Center’s Bridge Shelter. She is very humble and is doing God’s work on a daily basis.
  • Family Renew Community
The Family Renew Community was established in 1989 and has been assisting homeless families for the past 32 years. They have a residential campus in West Volusia located in DeLand.  Family Renew Community brings together religious congregations, businesses, civic and charitable organizations, and individuals committed to solving homelessness. Over 50 families every year are provided with transitional housing and combined with Beyond Homelessness program, which provides continuous case management has been determined 89% to 95% of the families secure and stay in stable housing.
  • The Neighborhood Center / The Bridge
The Neighborhood Center was founded in 1969 and incorporated in 1970 serving the DeLand area for 52 years. The Neighborhood Center provides rapid rehousing, emergency shelter, transitional housing, and operates 14 housing programs which includes 56 houses and apartments which include 150 individuals. In 2020 the Neighborhood Center opened The Bridge, which offers transitional housing. The facility includes 30 crisis center beds and includes day programs, meals, showers, and personal counseling.

 Nominees for Outstanding Youth (Under 18):
  • Angelica Delgado
Angelica Delgado with the help of her mother Diane, founded Princess For A Day LLC in 2019. After Diane's husband passed away, her daughter Angelica decided to forego her quinceañera, which traditionally includes a father-daughter dance. Instead, Angelica and her mother decided to do something to help other little girls in need experience the princess treatment she loved so much as a young girl. And thus, the meaning behind Princess For A Day was formed. Today, Princess For A Day LLC serves as a family effort geared toward making every child feel special and loved through the power of princess fun. As part of their mission to bless the most vulnerable members of our society, they host the Adopt A Princess Program. Through this program, they invite girls from children’s homes and foster care throughout Volusia, Seminole and Orange counties to experience their premier Royal Treatment for free.
  • Scarlett Rocha
Miss Scarlett Rocha is a Senior at Deltona High School. She has volunteered at Deltona Middle School for 4 years, and has been a huge asset to teachers, staff, and Administration. Scarlett is the type of volunteer that if you ask something of her, she does it, no questions asked. She helps file, answer phones, sort report cards, helps hand out schedules at the beginning of school, and serves food to teachers for our Welcome Back breakfast. There isn't anything Scarlett can't or won't do. As one teacher said, "We'd be lost without Scarlett".
Scarlett is currently Vice President of the Health Academy (HOSA) at Deltona High School, and plans to become a doctor. She has such a positive attitude towards everything she does, and works very hard to achieve her goals. When she volunteers at Deltona Middle, she gives 110% every time, and does not finish until the job is done. There have been many a night when she is here after school hours, well until the evening hours, when we are needing to get things ready for the first day of school, or for schedule pick up, or distributing laptops to Volusia Live students, just to name a few.
Since Scarlet has volunteered at Deltona Middle School, she has logged more than 150 hours. She was a member of our Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), when she was a student here, as well as a School Advisory Committee (SAC) member. We do not know what we are going to do without her smiling face at Deltona Middle School next year, as she goes off to college.
  • Adolfo A. Rocha
Adolfo is a senior at Deltona High school. This past summer, Adolfo came every day to help with textbook receivables, sorting, and distribution. He is a wonderful volunteer to have at the high school. He also regularly volunteers to help with dances and concessions at basketball games. He is a great young man!
  • Emily Wilder
Emily’s involvement with community outreach has grown over the years starting when she was only 5 years old in Girl Scouts to the high school student she is today. Not only does Emily do community service in established projects but she has started several outreaches of her own in the community. Emily first started a Stem Outreach when Covid-19 first hit in which she goes to homes to do safe but fun science-based activities with foster children in the community. The children responded in an excited manner to the activities and have benefited greatly from her patience and caring approach.
She then decided to use her photography talent to further help children in foster care. She started Capturing Shots of Kindness which is a photography outreach project where she creates special photoshoots for foster care children free of charge and encourages them to realize their beauty inside and outside. Through this outreach, she helped organize an Adopt a Backpack program this past summer where children in foster care were able to make backpack wishes and community members could sponsor them. Many children’s backpack wishes were granted, and they received a special backpack, outfit, school supplies and knowing that someone cared about them. Emily is also involved with her high school, is in many activities and is a dedicated high achieving scholar. She helps other’s shine and cares about making a difference and she is an ideal youth candidate for a Halo Award.
  • Ilan Lopez-Santos
Ilan is a senior at University High School in Orange City and has been a Robotics Student of mine for the past two years. He is an Ambassador for the Robotics Academy for which he goes over and beyond in volunteering for events, assisting with projects in the classroom, mentoring other students, and generally exceeding expectations for promoting the Academy.  
Additionally, Ilan is a member of the school ROTC where he exemplifies the discipline and self-respect required of the ROTC, but additionally shows this same behavior in all other aspects of his life outside ROTC. 
Ilan is a model of what a high school student should be and maintains his standards regardless of the actions and activities of those around him.  
Nominees for Outstanding Youth Mentor:
  • Latoya Hunter
Latoya is a great asset to the DeLand, Deltona, and surrounding communities where she gives back at her local Boys & Girls Club in Deltona to inspire our youth on a daily basis, and to help kids understand that it’s okay to be different and that they are loved no matter what. She is also a youth football board member and Team Mom for The Volusia Raiders. She always goes above and beyond for the youth within the community. She is a dedicated hard worker who knows exactly how to comfort young kids who are having a rough day. When she is out in public, she is often recognized by many kids who greet her, and she always responds with “That’s one of my babies.” The youth of this community trust her, and know that they can turn to her for anything.
  • Debbie Smith
Debbie is a PE Coach at Timbercrest Elementary School who goes above and beyond to teach her kids the importance of staying physically fit and healthy. She volunteers at Trinity Church in Deltona where she works with the 4th and 5th grade girls club to learn Bible scriptures and principles. She also volunteers at the Central Florida Pregnancy Center in Deltona to counsel those who are experiencing an un-planned pregnancy. She is kind, caring, gentle but firm, and always pays special attention to kids. She has a heart of gold and loves to minister to children.
  • Dr. Primrose Cameron
Dr. Primrose Cameron has been an educator, counselor, and mentor for over 20 years within the community. She has spent countless hours providing services in leadership and personal development to children grades 3 through 12. Her focus is mentoring young girls ages 11-19 in helping them to develop a positive image and on academic achievement.
  • Lori Smith & Abby Marion
Lori Smith and Abby Marion have been a part of the success of too many kids to count from Volusia. Lori is a high school ESE teacher at DeLand High and Abby works for a fern business in Pierson, but they spend countless hours with 4H (youth development organization and FFA (Future Farmers of America, a youth organization for students interested in agriculture and leadership). Lori has been a 4H leader for many years and is also a FFA advisor. Lori coaches livestock judging teams, that have competed and state on the national level. She has helped countless kids show animals such as sheep, goats, and cattle at the Volusia County Fair and other shows by training them in showmanship and helping feed/care for animals. Many of the children have even won at the Florida State Fair level too because of her guidance.
Abby has been involved in both 4H and FFA since she was a kid. She helps countless kids with the educational side of animals such as record books, filming video presentations, and practicing for skill-a-thon (things like meat cuts and anatomy) tests for different fairs. She coaches Poultry Judging where the teams have also placed at the State level.
Both of them do this together, and they tend to bring out the best in each other and that brings out the best in the kids. The kids work harder because they both make it educational, fun, and competitive. Lori was involved in this work as a kid in Indiana, and Abby was once Lori’s student, and now is her partner in educating other kids.
Together, they worked through Covid related things last school year doing virtual meetings, practices, and making sure the kids attended what they could to ensure the kid would be successful. Whether together or separate, they don’t often say no and are deserving of this award for all their service and time to the kids of several different 4H and FFA groups, from Deltona, Enterprise, DeLand, NSB, Pierson, and Samsula.  
  • Allison Bonilla
Allison is the founder of Building A Caring Community and ACTS mentorship. Through these foundations, Allision and her team mentor 8-18 year-old girls, giving them access to cultural events and opportunities to serve their community. The activities the girls are involved with help to increase their self-awareness, improve self-esteem, and encourage them to make healthy choices.
Nominees for Outstanding Senior Citizen:
  • Sheila Beck
Sheila, at 87, continues to volunteer in numerous places throughout Volusia County. She’s a gardener at heart and has continued her love for gardening through helping to maintain the gardens of many local museums while also devoting time to volunteer at homeless shelters to feed the hungry.
  • Patricia Northey
Pat Northey served as a Volusia County Council Member from January 1993 through December 2004 and January 2007 through December 2014 as an At-Large member and District 5 representative to the Volusia County Council. During her 20 years of elected service, Ms. Northey represented Volusia County on the River to Sea TPO, twice serving as Chair of the Board. In addition, she served on many local and state regional transportation boards and initiatives including Chair and member of the Central Florida MPO Alliance; FDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Partnership Council and FDOT Strategic Intermodal System Steering Committee.  
Pat is a long-time trail advocate and is widely known as “The Volusia Trail Queen”. She was a primary moving force for the selection of the St Johns River-to-Sea Loop as a Florida SUNTrail Priority Trail. Many trails bear Pat’s name in Volusia County including the including the Pat Northey Trail that heads north from Lake Monroe Park past Gemini Springs and the Pat Northey Trail in Holly Hill.
Pat is now retired but continues to remain a community activist.  
  • Herb Hiller
Herb is a former travel writer and has always been an advocate for ecotourism. Herb is one of the founders for the St. Johns River to Sea Loop Alliance and is a former Past President. He is known at the “Father of Florida Bicycle Tourism” and he is still active today as an Ecotourism Consultant. At age 90, Herb is also an active supporter of sustainability and a leader in the bike and trails movement.
  • Tony Tussing
Tony is one of West Volusia’s most active volunteers and currently serves as the Secretary for the DeLand Kiwanis Club, for which he has been a member of for over two decades. He is co-chair for the Annual Junior Olympics event that is a 74 year tradition in DeLand, of which has been involved with for 50+ years. He has chaired the DeLand High Hall of Fame program since 2002. He serves with Take Stock Children, writes for the WV Beacon, Score keeps for Stetson Basketball and FHSAA Track Events.
  • Jackie Siedell
Jackie is retired from the California Naval Department. She has worked with the Salvation Army of West Volusia for the past 4 years. She keeps the food pantry very organized and bags 25-30 bags of groceries each week to be picked up. She volunteers 4-5 hours weekly. Jackie is a person that will always be there for any help that you need. She is simply wonderful to work with and know!
Nominees for Frontline Medical Hero:
  • Brenda Mcgough
Brenda has been on the front lines for a long time as a Charge Nurse, including during the pandemic. She has devoted herself and her family to the health and wellness of others in our community. She is very deserving of this award.
  • Katheryn “Kathy” Lee
Throughout this pandemic, Kathy’s strength, and power of her leadership to oversee our most critical patient population in the hospital cannot be emphasized enough. Her positivity and focus on her team have enabled her team to be resilient during these trying times. Praise from her team include:
“Kathy is an amazing leader.”
“I wouldn’t be here without the support and help from my fearless leader, Kathy.”
In an effort to provide educational opportunities in a fun way to her staff, Kathy has crafted creative initiatives, such as “Titration Baseball”, to tie in educational topics as well as team building and fun. In addition to her creativity, Kathy has been a servant leader throughout this pandemic (e.g. serving as charge nurse to aid with staffing challenges or even staying overnight to serve as a resource nurse for team). If you ask Kathy for something, she will deliver with excellence as well as a smile! We are so fortunate here at Fish to have such a caring leader who has shown the true essence of a Frontline Medical Hero – strength, compassion, and her focus always being on her team who provides holistic care to our community. Kathy is such an important asset to West Volusia and rewarding of this distinct honor.
She is truly an angel and continues to bless those around her. She is selfless and always willing to help other in need. Kathy is a true example of a leader who leads by example. She has spent many hours assisting not just the nurses, but the families of those in her care. Kathy has such a kind and genuine personality that brightens any room she walks into. During this last surge, she has done amazing things to help her team continue to care for the families of Volusia County. Including, working as Charge during night shifts, arranging treats and special surprises for her nursing staff to show appreciation. She uplifts those around her and helps impower her team. She is a wonderful addition to our leadership team at AdventHealth Fish.
  • Ruben Colon
You may know Ruben as one of the Volusia County School Board Members, but at Fish Memorial, he is known as so much more. Serving as our informatics physician liaison, Ruben has played an instrumental role to orient and support our providers; however, throughout this pandemic, Ruben has returned back to the bedside from time to time as a Respiratory Therapist (RT) to aid with increased need for RTs in our hospital. Whenever I have observed him interacting with patients in his RT role, I see nothing but compassion for each patient he encounters. Furthermore, this compassion extends not only to his physician liaison and school board roles, but also to his role as a community mentor. Over the summer, our hospital alongside AH DeLand established a PCT pilot program with recent Volusia County Medical Academy graduates. This could not have been done without Ruben’s emphasis on the growth of students across Volusia County for years. Once these students become PCTs at our hospital, Ruben welcomes them with open arms, excited for them to be considered his colleagues. Ruben is such an important asset to West Volusia and rewarding of this distinct honor.
  • Tonja Williams
Tonja came to the MCD having a vast amount of experience, including both managerial & nursing related positions in several healthcare systems, supported by several nursing degrees. The reason I am nominating Tonja is her extreme diligence in managing all types of patients, including COVID positive individuals, in an environment full of severe & acute and seemingly never-ending circumstances. It is important to note that Tonja began her role at MCD a few short months after the hospital tower was opened for business AND, at the same time, the COVID pandemic took aim at our communities.
Tonja is a resident of Deltona. I know that she took personal the comfort and well-being of every single patient and family member that came to our facility. In visiting MCD, often Tonja had to leave meetings to arrange for another patient’s placing and/or onboarding and facilitate care. Long hours are the norm.  
There are many healthcare heroes; Tonja’s oversight of a brand new hospital puts her in a position to deserve everyone’s vote.
  • AdventHealth Fish Memorial Leadership Team
single person who works to make this hospital run in this latest surge have been angels. The amount of stress and pain that it has brought our work family has been intense; however, through it all there is this amazing strength and compassion that has been shown. From our top leadership team down, they have worked non-stop to ensure that everything has been running smoothly and that the team has had their needs met, while working to make sure we are not lacking in any PPE and that we are providing exceptional care to our patients.
Our Chief Nursing Officer Michelle Johnson, has made it a point to provide appreciation to our staff through our share cart, nursing gifts and rounding on COVID units. She has done everything possible to ensure our nurses feel loved. Our nursing directors John Lazarus and Mary Alford have spent countless hours working out plans to make sure we have been able to provide care to all of our patients and have found new ways to work miracles. Our staffing coordinator, Marva Lambert has spent hours tireless making sure that our staff are being cared for. Our patient experience manager, Tammy Land has worked hard to make sure that our COVID positive patients and their families stay connected through assisting with Virtual Visits. Our Education Manager, Alexis Marano, has been onboarding new staff and ensuring that each new member of our teams feel welcomed. Each nurse manager from our different units have given there love and support to their teams throughout this entire pandemic. They have come together as a team to assist each other and make it possible for our hospital to run every day. They are leaders who are living out our values and mission to extend the healing ministry of Christ. They are: Marnie Harris (Emergency Room), Kathy Lee (ICU), Jennifer Patterson (PCU), Tracey Egan (PCU), Porscha Kimbro (PCU), Julie Vaught (Med/Tele) and Jennifer Stone (Nursing Supervisor Manager). I feel so lucky and blessed to have joined such a strong, loving, supportive team of angels
Nominees for Education:
  • Kimberly Pertler
Kim goes above and beyond every year not only as a teacher but also as a mentor to all her students. She started a club called the “High Achievers” and she spends hours taking these kids to volunteer their time all over Volusia County doing numerous events.
  • Julia Carson
Julia Carson has been a teacher at Deltona High School for many years and she has also been the director of the AICE Cambridge program since the program started 5 years ago. Ms. Carson was a big part in getting the program started which started off small but is now one of the largest academic programs at Deltona High. Ms. Carson goes over and above to make sure students are successful and able to be college and career ready.  Bright Futures Scholarships are often hard for students to get due to the high SAT/ACT score requirement continuing to increase. However, if a student is able to successfully complete the Cambridge Diploma they are granted a 4 year Bright Futures Scholarship.
The class of 2021 was the first graduating class of Deltona High Cambridge students and many students earned the Cambridge Diploma and realized their dreams of attending college and Ms. Carson had a big role in the students being able to reach this big achievement. Whether a student is a gifted student, general education or special education student, Ms. Carson works very hard to make sure their needs are met in the program and school and goes over and above in her role as an educator. Ms. Carson is also one of the chairs of the DHS Student Advisory Committee and helps encourage involvement of students, parents, and staff to help Deltona High be the best it can be. Ms. Carson is a great example of an educator and would be great Halo Award recipient.
  • Vince Roeshink
Vince Roeshink is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Specialist for Volusia County Schools, where he works to help high schoolers find success either through a traditional college route, or through learning about trades such as HVAC and electric. He understands that not all students know what they want to do outside of high school, and his efforts contribute to the curriculum shift in our Volusia County School system that allows for children to learn about real-life skills that may or may not fit the typical college route. He also works with the business community to find out what skills and trades kids should be learning about. Previously, he was a teacher within VCS for many years, ranging from elementary to high school.
  • Bud Hanson
Bud is a seasoned executive with 25 years’ experience developing strategic sales and marketing initiatives. Bud currently manages the PACE program at Stetson. The Pace program is currently launching a series of online non-credited courses for adults to sharpen their skills. Offerings include Cybersecurity, digital marketing, leadership, and project management. Bud also takes the time to reach out with the business community to find out what skills should be taught to the rising work force.
  • Danielle Gregory
Miss Danielle Gregory started teaching in 2019 shortly after graduating from the University of Central Florida with her bachelor’s degree. During Miss Gregory’s first year of teaching, she was assigned to a local elementary school in Deltona where she was nominated and received the prestigious award of Volusia County’s New Teacher of the Year. On top of all of the training, extra classes she had to have for her teaching certificate, Miss Gregory also started her master’s degree.
During Miss Gregory’s second year, she moved to Champion Elementary School in Daytona Beach, where in only her second year of teaching, was asked to be the Grade Chair for First grade. This was quite a responsibility for a second year teacher as well as all the challenges that the 2020 pandemic brought. The principal told her he had never seen anyone with as much drive, determination, and organizational skills as she had. During this school year, along with all the other new responsibilities, Danielle finished her master’s degree and graduated with a 4.0 GPA in 1.5 years, all while working a full time job. Miss Gregory is barely 23 years of age.
In Miss Gregory’s third year, she decided to come home to West Volusia and began teaching at Spirit Elementary in Deltona. Miss Gregory is now a Kindergarten teacher at Spirit Elementary School.
Every year since her first year, Miss Gregory has arranged, through donations, for each child to receive a 1 book every month, a book at Christmas, and one at the end of the school year to have as their own. Some of these children have never owned a book. The look on their little faces when she hands the books to them is priceless.
Miss Gregory is also an assistant Coach for University High School Varsity Girls Volleyball team. Danielle is always the first to jump in and help a family in need or to assist after school if a child is struggling. She is also in the midst of purchasing her first home in the city of Deltona. As you can see, this is an extraordinary young lady who has given her life to serve her community.
Miss Danielle Gregory is a leader among her peers and always strives to bring new ideas and focus to everything she does. When Miss Gregory sets her mind to accomplish something, nothing stands in her way. She would make an excellent candidate for the inaugural HALO award and would set the standard for other candidates in the future to be judged.
  • Sara Montalvo
Sara Montalvo is a school guidance counselor. She goes above and beyond for the children at her school by enrolling families in need for the Volusia County Toys for Tots and other programs to benefit children. She creates civic opportunities for the children to get involved with outside of the classroom as well.
  • Samantha Rupp
Mrs. Rupp has been a teacher in Volusia for seven years. She is a previous Teacher of the Year Nominee, and is currently serving as the Team Leader for second grade. Her commitment to the students of Orange City elementary school is exceptional. She has completed the ESOL and Reading Endorsements, is an active member of the PTA, aids in student security in her morning and afternoon duties, serves on the PBIS Leadership Team, and is a Class DoJo mentor for our school, keeping the teachers and parents actively involved. In addition, Mrs. Rupp taught an evening reading program called Parents to Kids, has helped students in need through after-school tutoring at a Title I facility, regularly completes Professional Development courses beyond those required, and has hosted in the Junior Achievement program. She has shown her care about the future of education by giving her time to mentor student teacher interns from both Daytona State and Stetson University. Mrs. Rupp also revived our Sunshine Committee, a group effort designed for the sole purpose of spreading kindness and good cheer among our faculty and staff.
Although her achievements are impressive, the true reason I want to nominate Samantha is for her huge heart and sweet, sacrificial spirit. She is a friend who constantly gives. Samantha has been there for her coworkers when they needed someone to care. Last Thanksgiving, I personally had a burden that she recognized and met without my asking. She is the kind of person who puts others first without question. She is beloved by her students. I watch on a daily basis as Mrs. Rupp comes in very early in the morning and stays very late into the evening. Her classroom is a warm and welcoming environment, even voted last month by the faculty as having the classroom that is most student-centered. She teaches with creativity, passion, and expertise. You won’t meet a teacher who is more organized or prepared. I know the sky is the limit for what she will accomplish through the course of her career. Samantha will tell you her greatest accomplishment is her precious three-year-old daughter, Parker. She is a very lucky little girl to have a mom who loves her completely. Her students are just as blessed.
Nominees for Arts & Culture:
  • Pattie Pardee (Museum of Art DeLand)
Pattie Pardee became the Executive Director for the Museum of Art DeLand 2019 replacing the former Executive Director George Bogle. In the early part of 2020 Pattie was instrumental in bringing in one of the Museums more successful exhibits Wonderland: Photography by Kristy Mitchell. Not long after the exhibit the Museum had to close down due to Covid, but the Museum was able to remain relevant through virtual presence. Pattie’s passion and dedication to the Art and Cultural Community is just o n of the reason why the Museum of Art DeLand and it’s satellite gallery are recognized statewide for academic excellence and community outreach. 
  • Gateway Center for the Arts
 Gateway Center for the Arts, a not-for-profit, grass roots organization, with a diverse membership of over 700 representing Debary, Deltona, Orange City, Enterprise, Osteen, and other Volusia county locations as well as Orlando, Winter Park, Sanford, and Daytona Beach areas. It was incorporated in 1998 with 67 members and an expressed purpose to build a “center for the arts” in its By-laws. It has dedicated its program to serve children and adults in our communities by bringing cultural awareness to an under-served community, southwest Volusia County.
  • Enterprise Museum
The Enterprise Museum is a former 1936 schoolhouse, that has been restored to display the history of Enterprise and to bring educational presentations to the public. The mission of the Enterprise Heritage Center & Museum is to provide and promote a placed-based learning experience focused on the historic community of Enterprise and its unique role in the geographic, social, political, educational, and cultural formation of Volusia County and Central Florida.
  • Erica Group
Erica Group is Visit West Volusia’s “Artist in Residence” and she is the talented artist behind the very popular “Wings of the West” art murals that can be found throughout West Volusia. Her murals have become synonymous with West Volusia and they subsequently draw in tourists and West Volusians alike. She will begin work on her 7th Wings of the West mural in downtown DeLand that will be mini a version of the DeLand Wings for children and pets to stand in front of so they can join in on the fun.
Nominees for Outstanding Volunteer/Philanthropist – Individual:
  • Joe Hearn
Joe Hearn for years has continually given of his time and resources to the West Volusia Community. Joe has selflessly gone above and beyond in supporting local nonprofits’ fundraising events and programs through his generous contributions. Joe sits on multiple boards and is currently serving on the Board for the Boys & Girls Club of Volusia/Flager, the DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce & Orange City Alliance, and is the Vice President of the Volusia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Inc. Joe is on the Advisory Board for Leadership West Volusia and was honored as the 2020 West Volusian of the year by the DeLand Breakfast Rotary Club at the 2020 Wild Game fest. He is generous, gracious, tireless, and can always be counted on when asked to volunteer or serve.
  • Victor Ramos
Victor Ramos is a City Commissioner for the City of Deltona and the Chief Executive Officer at Mid-Florida Housing Partnership Inc. Victor is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for his community work and is an acclaimed bilingual speaker and panelist, addressing issues of importance in education, the City of Deltona, and the Central Florida community. He currently serves on the following boards: Boys & Girls Club of Volusia/Flagler County, West Volusia Regional Chamber of Commerce, Community Life Center, River of Lakes Heritage Corridor, HOSA – Deltona High Health Academy, the Transportation Planning Organization, and is on the Executive Board of the Central Florida Metropolitan Planning Organization Alliance. Throughout his professional career, Victor has volunteered on numerous social and community boards to include the Volusia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Volusia Young Professional Group, the Four Townes Family YMCA, the Rotary Club of DeBary-Deltona-Orange City and the Economic Development Advisory Board in the City of Deltona.
  • Linda Hannon
Linda has sat on the board of the Childhood Cancer Foundation since 2014, and this year she was the President of the foundation. She donates her time and energy generously to the organization to see that its mission of providing financial assistance to Volusia County families facing the devastating diagnosis of Childhood Cancer is fulfilled. She also supports The Neighborhood Center, JSL Birdies and Bogis Golf Tournament, and the Wild Wild West Events. She has also participated in Me Strong events, Good Samaritan Clinic, and Toys for Tots via The West Volusia Association of Realtors. She was a recipient of the West Volusia Association of Realtors Humanitarian Award for 2019. It is awarded to individual Realtors who have demonstrated exemplary, personal involvement in a community project or charity. She has do much for her community and would be a deserving recipient.
  • Allen Thompson
Allen not only represents the Volusia County Toys for Tots, he is also a co-coordinator for the organization. He is the first person to stop what he is doing to help out his community and people in need. He involves himself 100% in everything he does, including volunteering heavily with his local Chambers of Commerce. He was the recipient of the 2020 Humanitarian of the Year awarded by the West Volusia Association of Realtors, for his clear dedication to his community.
  • Staci Tramont
Staci led the Adopt A Senior Program for high schoolers of Volusia during Covid-19. The pandemic greatly impacted the lives of our Volusia students, especially seniors who are already anxious as it is to graduate and plan for life outside of school. On top of that, the students had to also adjust to online classes, having less interaction, and not having a prom or a proper graduation. The program that Satci started helped over 3000 Volusia County seniors in 2020 and 2021. It offered students not only financial support but also mental health support as well as they navigated the struggles that they faced as a student during the pandemic. Her work does no stop there though. She helped raise funds to support a homeless teen and another graduating teen who had lost his father to Cancer, leaving him without parents days before graduation. She raised over $6,000 for him in just 3 days to sure he had a room, shelter, and necessities before going off to boot camp. Staci epitomizes a true Angel.
  • Dawn Truluck
Dawn oversees every aspect of By His Hands Homeless Ministry for the past 5 years. Her Team sets a Trailer full of Everything out every other Tuesday for the Homeless to Shop for FREE! Anything they need to live out in the elements is given to them at the Bridge in DeLand. Everything comes from monetary donations or item donations plus out of Dawn's pocket as needed. She asks nothing from a single soul but is Highly Blessed & Favored in order to keep this Ministry up & going! She sure deserves to be recognized as she is the humblest person we know and are proud to be under her Leadership.
  • Jennifer Snowden
Jennifer is a caring, loving, and generous person. She is always helping others and she is always there for you when you need a friend. She recently volunteered to help a friend who lost her husband, helped her make arrangements, and coordinated a Meal Train for the family, and even stayed with the family overnight several times to comfort them. This type of outstanding volunteering is common practice for her. She works a TON of hours each week volunteering at a Food Pantry in Lake Helen. She is a volunteer with KREWE in DeLand Florida. She is an event planner and when Covid shut many venues down last year, she volunteered to help other event planners call all their customers to help them reschedule their events and find other solutions. She is truly an amazing person.
  • Tarayn Korkus
Tarayn is the Volusia County Toys for Tots Coordinator. She takes on this is entirely volunteer position, while also working full-time. Tarayn coordinated the program that delivered 35,000 toys to nearly 9,000 kids inside Volusia County in 2020.
The Outstanding Volunteer/Philanthropist – Business:
  • Central Florida Home Pros LLC
Central Florida Home Pros is a real estate brokerage firm that has donated over $52,000 to local charities over the last several years through their West Volusia Chamber give-back program. They also have been a huge supporter of the Childhood Cancer Foundation’s annual fundraiser each year, where they volunteer their time and resources to ensure a successful event for them. They support their local chamber’s efforts to recognize first responders by helping to sponsor the annual Valor Awards, and during the start of the pandemic in 2020, they paid the memberships of nonprofit members within their chamber to allow for them to receive more donations through being a part of the chamber.
  • Back In Time Auto Sales
Back In Time Auto Sales is a newer Veteran-owned business in DeLand and they are very supportive of their local community, Veterans, and First Responders. During the month of August 2021, they raised $700 for the family of fallen Daytona Beach Police Officer Jason Raynor at their monthly Downtown DeLand Cruise event. They also have specials on their vehicles where they donate a portion of their proceeds to local Veteran organizations.
  • The Elusive Grape
The Elusive Grape in DeLand has always been community minded. Bill Budzinski, the owner of Elusive Grape has given of his time services to local non-profits without thinking twice. In 2020 with seeing how the restaurant employees and the local community were struggling to find meat, Bill purchased 2,500 pounds of chicken legs and donated 80% to The Neighborhood Center and local employees in the restaurant industry who were struggling to feed their families. But this didn’t stop here, Bill prepared and donated 14,500 meals to Spring Hill Resource Center and 17,300 meals to The Neighborhood Center. Bill has also helped fundraise for Cancer Awareness and Childhood Cancer. These are just some of the most recent acts of generosity and love of community that The Elusive Grape is nominated for Volunteer & Philanthropist.
  • Sunsure Insurance
Sunsure Insurance has held several campaigns over the last few years to give Publix gift cards to those effected by the pandemic, participated in food drives, and helped hand out food during food drives. Sunsure regularly makes contributions to many local schools and recently donated money to a local pastor to open up a community boxing gym. Sunsure’s owner Vincent also actively contributes to the horse racing individuals who have been heavily impacted by Covid in Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware.
  • Sykes
Sykes of DeLand greatly helps out within the West Volusia community. During the last year alone, Sykes employees have volunteered with the Habitat for Humanity, donated school supplies to local schools, and helped package 40,000 meals at the 2nd annual Volusia Outreach program with Hunger Fight. They also help by donating scholarships to local seniors through their scholarship program, donating goodies to the DeLand Fire Department, and they are a supporter of their local nonprofits such as MeStrong, Halifax Humane Society, and a supporter of the West Volusia Regional Chamber.
Nominees for Best Community Improvement Plan:
  • VIA Orange City Woman’s Club
The VIA Orange City Woman’s Club was founded in 1894. Through the years the Club has focused on community service, community engagement & outreach, the arts & culture, health & wellness, education & libraries, and the environment. Most recently the “Pin Wheels” for Prevention of Child Abuse and their scholarship program have been added to that list. It is for their continued passion and dedication the Orange City Community that they are nominated for a Halo.
  • West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority
The West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority’s goal is to develop initiatives to boost tourism for West Volusia County. Through targeting specific markets across Florida and the U.S., and by marketing across social media channels their marketing has proven to be an effective part in their mission. They also advocate for West Volusia to be a wedding destination, and they helped create the W.I.N. initiative to promote healthy living. They recently won “Best of Show: Budgets under $500,000” for their Cool Craft Beverage Trail, which highlights select businesses throughout Volusia. Ultimately, they continue to find new ways to promote business and industries unique to West Volusia.
  • The St. Johns River to Sea Loop Alliance
The St Johns River-to-Sea Loop is one of two top-priority Florida SUN Trails (Shared-Use Non-motorized paved trails). The goal to develop this 250-mile loop through 5 counties began in West Volusia with the first segment of the trail a one-mile section across the front of Gemini Springs Park in DeBary.
The Alliance, headquartered in DeLand, Florida, is the keeper of the flame! They advocate, advance, support, and promote the St Johns River-to-Sea Loop (SJR2C) multiuse Florida SUN Trail by coordinating with governmental agencies that build the Loop and agencies responsible for integrating the trail into how we live, where we live, including objectives of health and fitness, household economy, environmental protection, and social equity.
The vision of the Alliance is for the Loop to become one of the most popular touring regions of Florida, inspiring residents and attracting visitors and new residents that will connect people and communities and stimulate locally resourceful economic development.
“It takes a community to build a trail. Then the trail returns the favor.”
– Charlie MacInnis
  • City of Deltona Florida EcoParks
The City of Deltona utilizes the Florida EcoParks initiative to focus on the development of nature themed parks, blueways trails & an extensive trail and bicycle system to access these resources and help the physical & emotional well-being of our visitors. There is even an app called “Discover Deltona” that lets you share photos, and “check in” at Deltona locations with the opportunity to win prizes. This is a great way for Deltona to promote and preserve its natural beauty and a healthy lifestyle.
  • Kellee Smith
Kellee is a hardworking business owner and mother who still finds the time to give back to her community. She is active in Rotary and due to her efforts helped Downtown DeLand in recycling efforts by putting recycling cans throughout Downtown with the help of Rotary. She also helped her daughter start the Rotaract Club of DeLand, and still supports the Club, each of the members, and their businesses regardless of competition. She is a wonderful mentor to all.
  • Stetson University’s Poverty and Homeslessness Conference founded by Dr. Shankar-Brown
The Poverty and Homelessness Conference (PHC) is an annual collaborative effort among Stetson University, Volusia County Schools, Volusia United Educators and, most recently, the Florida Educators Association. The conference also partners with the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH).
Each year, the conference invites key experts to lead educational workshops while also amplifying the voices of individuals with lived experience of homelessness, including children and youth, and discussing intersectional connections to race, gender, sexuality and the environment. This year the conference was virtual, but next year it is planned to be held in-person once again on Stetson University’s campus.
“In addition to illuminating human rights issues connected to poverty and homelessness, courageously and collaboratively brainstorming innovative solutions, and actively working to support the academic and social-emotional well-being of our children and youth, the PHC aims to affirm diverse voices and cultivate empathy” – Dr. Shankar-Brown
  • Anslee Holland
Anslee began the Rotaract Club of DeLand between 2018 – 2019 and was the first President of the Club. She has continued her commitment to her community by becoming the volunteer coordinator for The Bridge homeless shelter and being appointed to the DeLand Mural Committee in 2021.