The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Carol Zoffinger as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. Zoffinger, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will contribute the money to her charity of choice, Zoe’s Journey.
In 2009, Zoffinger, a single mother of three, voluntarily left her job to fulfill her calling in life by reaching out to women in need. Using a small inheritance from her mother, Zoffinger established Zoe’s Journey, a women’s transitional home, which provides aid to female individuals stricken by addiction, homelessness and incarceration. She is an advocate for numerous women going through the court system, pays weekly visits to the county jail to counsel inmates and currently teaches both a substance abuse education program and parenting classes within the prison system. In addition, she serves on the board of the Emergency Food and Shelter FEMA Program as well as that of the Homeless Coalition.
Zoffinger’s desire to serve others stems from her own hardships and her subsequent personal commitment to turn her life around in the right direction. At the age of 11, Zoffinger began using drugs, and by age 25, had been arrested multiple times for a variety of offenses. In May of 2002, Zoffinger was pregnant with her fourth child and was set to serve 103 years in Florida State Prison when she realized an important life change was necessary. After turning her life over to God, Zoffinger was released from county jail and went on to graduate with honors from Southeastern University, earning a bachelor’s degree in human services and church leadership. She continued to pursue her education and received her Master’s Degree shortly thereafter. Today, she is currently working towards her Ph.D.
Zoffinger has gone from a homeless, drug addicted woman, whose children were placed in the foster care of others, to a productive community activist who now has custody of all of her children. She has been recognized with numerous awards including Student of the Year for Adult Education at Southeastern University in 2006, and most recently, awarded the “She Knows Where She’s Going Award” by Girls, Inc.