Heart Of Florida United Way Announces Honorees For 6th Annual Change Maker Impact Awards 

ORLANDO – Heart of Florida United Way has announced honorees for the 6th annual Change Maker Impact Awards, an event that recognizes individuals and groups who are making significant contributions to the Central Florida community. The event will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 6:00pm at Orlando Museum of Art. Individual tickets to the awards ceremony are $85 and can be purchased here www.HFUW.org/event/change-maker-impact-awards

This year, the LIVE UNITED Impact Awards will be presented to five extraordinary Change Makers:

  • Live United Impact Award for LeadershipLinda Landman Gonzalez, Orlando Magic Youth Foundation,for her significant contributions to Central Florida through her professional and personal contributions to numerous boards, committees, and events in support of important causes.
  • Live United Impact Award for AdvocacyDonna Wyche, Orange County Government, for her career of advocacy particularly in the area of mental health.
  • Live United Impact Award for ChildrenGary Cain, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida,for a career of caring for the well-being and development of children in our community.
  • Live United Award for Equity: Aeras Foundation for their work to close the digital divide.
  • Live United Impact Award for Health: Orange County Public Schools for recognizing food insecurity and investing in solutions to ensure no child goes hungry.

The five honorees selected from the Community Choice nominations include:

  • Unsung Hero: Lashea Reaves, 8 Cents in a Jar, a nonprofit organization serving Central Florida to create opportunities for students in marginalized communities to achieve intergenerational mobility through financial education.
  • Women United Impact Award: Mia Poinsette, Poinsette Foundation, for her work in uplifting children and families in Central Florida.
  • Mission United Impact Award: John Gionet, Orange County Mayor’s Veterans Council and retired Marine,for his work ensuring family members of Veterans who have passed away receive the benefits they deserve.
  • Emerging Leader Impact Award: Samuel Vilchez Santiago, American Business Immigration Coalition,for his work in supporting immigrant families in Central Florida.
  • Change Maker Junior: Kaylan Patel, 17-year-old student, for the work of his nonprofit Lending Hand Global Foundation to help Central Florida children see beyond their circumstances and dream big.

“We feel privileged to present these awards that identify and recognize those who have led our community to new heights through their passion,” said Jeff Hayward, President & CEO, Heart of Florida United Way. “These honorees have demonstrated their capacity to find creative answers to challenges, are led by an extraordinary vision, and have demonstrated their compassion and love for helping others succeed. We need more people like them. We are proud to celebrate our Change Makers!”

Heart of Florida United Way has been recognizing Change Makers for the past five years. Last years’ honorees included The DeVos Family Foundation as Change Maker of the Year; Nina Yon, President and CEO of The Sharing Center, for the Women United Impact Award; Tommie Maldonado, Program Manager and County Veteran Service Officer for Orange County, for the Mission United Impact Award; Braxton Woodson, student at Lake Brantley High School, for the Change Maker Junior Award; Dr. Laine Powell, the Founder and Executive Director of Tech Sassy Girlz, for the Unsung Hero Award; Dr. Barbara Jenkins, former superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, for the Live United Impact Award for Children; Chief Orlando Rolón, former Chief of the Orlando Police Department, for the Live United Impact Award for Leadership; Brandon Wolf, survivor of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and gun control, for the Live United Impact Award for Advocacy; Osceola County Government’s Osceola Prosper program for the Live United Impact Award for Education; the late Lonnie Bell, Jr., former Orange County Director of Community and Family Services, for the Live United Impact Award for Philanthropy; Legacy Awards were presented to Dr. Richard Lapchick, founder of the University of Central Florida’s Sports Business Management Program and the Institute for Sport & Social Justice; Sandy Hostetter, former Central Florida Regional President of Truist committed to solving issues around our community’s affordable housing crisis; and Ed Timberlake, a member of the HFUW Board of Directors, for his legacy of volunteer work and advocacy for non-profits.

To register for the event, visit https://www.hfuw.org/event/change-maker-impact-awards/