Local Communities Raise Funds for Worthy Causes

Bishop John Noonan serves soup to guests at the Soup Bowl Supper, a fundraiser for Pathways to Care, at St. Mary Magdalen on Oct. 29. (GLENDA MEEKINS | FC)

October marked the celebration of two local events which raised money for meaningful causes, Bishop Grady Villas in St. Cloud and Pathways to Care in Casselberry.

The Harvest Ball, held Oct. 22 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, supports scholarships for Bishop Grady Villas, a residential community where adults with intellectual disabilities live as independently as possible while receiving pre-vocational, employment, respite, and companion support. 500 Harvest Ball guests raised $257,000 for the Residents’ Scholarship Fund.

Kevin Johnson, executive director, spoke affectionately of the Bishop Grady Villas residents. “The individuals we serve manifest God’s steadfast love in their welcoming spirit, which touches the hearts of their coworkers, friends, fellow church members, our staff and volunteers, and the organizations for which they volunteer and frequent. Each person who comes into contact with our community receives God’s love through their diverse gifts and unique personalities.”

One such person touched by these residents is Father Ed Waters, pastor of St. Timothy Parish in Lady Lake. For his service to the organization, he received the Lifetime Legacy Award, given annually to someone who has helped continue the works of Bishop Grady Villas. His parish received the Community Service Award for their dedication to the continued success of this signature event.

One week later on Oct. 29, on the opposite end of town, the Parish Life Center at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Altamonte Springs was filled to the brim with more than 430 guests who came to raise money for Pathways to Care, a program of Catholic Charities of Central Florida that serves homeless men, women and veterans recovering from a serious illness or injury. Participants exceeded the fundraising goal of $190,000 to support the residents cared for by Pathways.

Over 400 hand-painted bowls were created for each guest by area students from Trinity Prep, Lake Mary, Hagerty and Lake Howell High Schools along with professional artists from Artistic Hand and Ben and Diane Evans. In addition to the “Artistic Student Award” for the most artistic bowl given to Dakota, from Lake Howell High School, the organization also recognized Jim Hoge, founder of Z88.3 radio station and Pathways to Care chairman of the board as recipient of the annual “Making a Difference” award.

Over bowls of soup from local restaurants served by Bishop John Noonan, Father Stephen Bluett of St. Stephen Parish in Winter Springs and others, guests heard from Hope Nichols, a Pathways to Care resident. In a moving speech Nichols told the audience, “I am the new face of homelessness.” A Navy veteran, she said she never expected to be in this position and credited Pathways with getting her through it and giving her hope for her future.