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A Closer Look At Two More Community Heroes

by Dave Mishkin / Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning have recognized two more Community Heroes. Each Hero received $50,000 for a designated charity.

Hero: Jane Ford. Charity: Camelot Community Care.

Camelot Community Care, Jane Ford’s chosen charity, has this succinct mission statement: “To develop and provide services which enable children and families to realize their full potential.” One aspect of the charity’s work deals with young adults about to age out of the foster care system. This is also the area in which Jane has devoted her time.

She learned that 18-year olds leaving the foster care system would be moving into unfurnished apartments lacking basic household items. She founded First Nesters, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing these 18-year olds with these basic necessities. First Nesters’ website states its mission is to “furnish comfortable first-homes for young men and women aging out of the Tampa Bay Area foster care and children’s services programs.”

I’ve moved more than a few times in my adult life, and as anyone who has done it knows, hauling furniture out of one place and into another is not an easy task. Yet Jane Ford and her team of volunteers do it regularly. In the past year, they’ve put in more than 6,000 hours towards furnishing apartments. That includes more than just furniture transport. They also paint, clean and decorate so that the apartment residents are moving into more than just a new place – it’s a new home.

Hero: Charlie Richards. Charity: Community Affordable Supported Living.

Charlie Richards has made it his life’s mission to help find housing for adults with disabilities. Charlie’s own son was developmentally-disabled. Through his son’s experiences, Charlie learned about the struggles disabled adults face in terms of finding housing, support services and basic activities. Tragically, his wife and son were killed in an automobile accident. After their untimely death, Charlie founded Community Affordable Supported Living.

His non-profit provides affordable housing for adults with disabilities. He initially was personally involved in purchasing, repairing and managing some of the 40 local dwellings himself. He offers rent in his houses for only $300.

As we have seen with so many of the Community Heroes, Charlie experienced an awful personal event, but did not allow it to crush his spirit. Rather, he came out of the tragedy committed to helping others. I continue to be amazed at the resolve of these incredible individuals.

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