TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Penny Morrill as the 26th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Vegas Golden Knights. Morrill, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate to Sunrise of Pasco.
Morrill founded Sunrise of Pasco in 1986, a non profit that provides support for domestic abuse victims. Penny worked towards opening a dedicated shelter, and being able to provide counseling as well as legal advocacy to victims. She also began collecting clothes and supplies for domestic violence victims and quickly realized the community was donating more than the shelter could use so she opened a thrift store to sell the excess clothing and raise money for the cause. Penny was instrumental in the addition of programs including children's protective services to help when a child is taken from the non-abusive parent, rural project to help get advocates out to the neighborhoods instead of people trying to find transportation to get to Sunrise, and a sexual violence program to help both victims and responders.
In 1993, Penny found common ground with local Pasco County Judge Lynn Tepper and formed the Pasco County Domestic Violence Task Force, which remains in commission today. More recently in 2003, Penny rallied community partners and created the Pasco County Fatality Review Team which brings together key partners within the legal and judicial spheres in the community to collaborate to identify potential gaps in services that may need to be addressed to prevent lethality in domestic violence situations. Penny sat in court with survivors who were testifying against their abuser; helped families find homes; answered hotlines and listened to shelter residents who couldn't sleep because the abuse weighed heavy on their mind. She was with Sunrise for 27 years before retiring. Since she has served as President for both Kiwanis and the Chamber; has continued to volunteer about 100 hours each month for Kiwanis, Restored Hope, the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, and of course, Sunrise.
Penny Morrill becomes the 349th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $17.55 million to more than 400 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2016, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.