A Year of Giving Back

RMA is made up of a team of passionate individuals who have come together to successfully reinvent cities, and the communities that make up those cities. As the year ends and a new chapter begins, we wanted to share some truly inspirational stories of the many ways our team gives back to the communities where we live and work. The RMA team continually explores the act of giving and the meaning of true altruism – whether it’s giving of our time, a donation, gift or the power of our voice in the local community. We hope that you too find a bit of inspiration in the enriching stories we share.

Sharon McCormick-Director of Business Attraction & Marketing

“For me, “giving back” is receiving. There is nothing that feeds my soul more than volunteering to make a difference in someone else’s life”. This year, I had the privilege of not only working alongside my fellow RMA’ers to help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, but I also had the opportunity to be involved in setting up two non-profit organizations.

 The first is Building Hopes…one that is very near and dear to my heart. My 13 year-old cousin lost his battle with cancer this year, but not without sharing his vision to inspire people across the nation to host local Lego drives to donate small boxes of Legos to their local children’s hospitals. He wanted other kids going through the same things he was enduring to have Legos to pass the hours in hospital rooms. He said, “It helps me keep my mind off the bad stuff when I’m building with Lego’s”. He wanted other children to know they can “build their hopes up”. I look forward to moving this project forward in 2017…working on it helps heal the heart.

 The second organization is the Alliance of Women Executives or AWE which was the vision of a long-time friend. AWE is executive women sharing business experience and knowledge while also promoting higher education for the next generation of women through academic scholarships. This year, AWE will award its first $1000 scholarship to a local Palm Beach county student who will be attending college in Palm Beach County. I love the idea that we are rewarding a student for staying in their community.  In redevelopment, we often look at how we reinvent cities to attract its youth back after they leave for college. I’m excited to learn about our first applicants and discover what connects them to their communities and why they are choosing to attend college locally.

Tracey Burghy-Business Development Manager 

I feel blessed and appreciative every day and try to show this by giving of my time by volunteering with veterans – a lifelong involvement thanks to my mom setting an example early on. She began volunteering at the DAV Hospital and soon I was as well; next was the Blinded Veteran’s Association where we became even more involved and eventually she was President of the BVA Auxiliary for many years; currently we volunteer for Honor Flight South Florida.

For Veterans Day 2016, my mom and I attended the Boca Raton Commemorative Ceremony which took place at the Boca Raton Cemetery. It was a very sincere and touching ceremony with over 300 people in attendance. One young man (perhaps 17 years old) in particular stood out, Cadet Commander Bennett Lax from the NJROTC Boca Raton High School, and if he is representative of the young leaders in our country – we are in good hands. The speech he gave was exceptionally articulate and moving, encouraging all to become involved in supporting and honoring our Veterans even if they are not part of a “military family” or from a “military background”. His words rang true for my family and it is an honor to volunteer in whatever way we can as a way to say Thank You to all who serve/have served.

On that day we had the opportunity to say Thank You in a small, but very meaningful way. While thanking Veterans after the ceremony, we saw a couple work their way up to the memorial and offered to take a photo for them. As they did not have a camera or a phone with a camera, I was honored to take a photo for Veteran Harry Fisher and his wife Katherine. I asked if she would like me to text or email it to her and since she also does not use the internet/email, I offered to print out copies and give them to her in person so that she will be able to share with all of their family. She had tears in her eyes as she thanked me and said it would mean so much to them. In the spirit of Cadet Commander Bennett Laxs’ speech, I too encourage all to do what you can to support our Veterans, as even the smallest of gestures that we take for granted may mean the world to those we honor.

Thank you to all our Veterans and their families.

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Sarah Blake-Marketing Manager 

In the 1990’s, my youngest brothers both suffered from two rare and entirely different brain disorders resulting in surgeries for both. Both survived although given a small chance. In return, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted them each a wish to lift their spirits, infuse hope, and create happy memories in the midst of their traumas. Every year since, our family gets together and does a haunted house where all proceeds go back to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This year, we raised over $2,000 and were featured on the local TV station. In addition, I have donated regularly to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation in the hopes for a cure for my Mother.

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Jessica Mulder-Creative Director 

This year I’ve donated to a number of causes including but not limited to Planned Parenthood Action Fund ; Sgt. Pepper’s Friends: an animal rescue charity located in Aruba, where the stray dog problem is dire; 109 World: an up and coming organization that has brilliantly combined the forces of social media and Yoga to bring people together for social mission trips that address the following causes: Education, Animals, Water, the Environment, Children, Food Security, and Women; the American Cancer Society; the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society; and also regularly donate clothing and food to Goodwill. I generally follow multiple causes and give where I can, because even a dollar can go a long way to help with a cause when you don’t have time to spare or simply prefer to contribute financially. Next year I hope to get involved with at least one social mission trip and get my hands dirty; as long as I’m lucky enough to be able to help I will continue to do so, the world needs it!

Michelle Oprisi-Creative Services Manager 

This year I helped with the Dania Beach Pier Clean up. It was amazing to spend Sunday with so many like-minded folks who wanted to make a difference on our beach and in our ocean and my community. Over 400 volunteers who joined us in cleaning up over 1500 pounds of marine debris. I also donated one of my art pieces to be auctioned to raise funds. Stoked On Salt – SOS Ocean Clean-Up and Divers Cove wants to invite the community to support the Project AWARE movement for a trash free ocean and environment.

I have donated clothing to Salivation Army,  Art work to The Fundraiser for SandAway Discovery Center Auction.

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Lynn Dehlinger-Sr. Economic Development Manager

I teach a third grade religion class at St Stephens Catholic Church.  I am on the City of Winter Springs Parks and Rec advisory board, and am treasurer of my neighborhood HOA.

But my biggest outreach is to Helpful Hands.  I have been on the Board of Directors for five years of this local charity in Central Florida which provides quality of life assistance to families in crisis.

By that I mean those things outside of food, shelter and clothing that are the first to disappear when crisis hits.  By partnering with organizations, we provide life enhancing opportunities to children and families.  We partner with cities such as Oviedo and Winter Springs with their sports programs, and provide scholarships for their recreational programs.

Other programs include:

Teen Program to provide high school seniors with things such as senior pictures, proms, high school rings, homecoming expenses and more.

Fine Arts provides instruments, lessons and camps for children are recognized for outstanding talent but lack the resources to cultivate their talent.

Athletics programs allow children to play Little League, volleyball or swimming.  Our CHAPS program provides autistic children the opportunity to learn life lessons through interaction with horses.

Milestone Celebrations are for children with cancer who reach milestones in their treatment.

Holiday Adopt-A-Child provides gifts, decorations and special treats to needy families in our community.

Kelia Rodriguez-Business Attraction & marketing Coordinator 

I donate to “Broward Outreach Centers/Miami Rescue Mission” in Pompano, to “food for the poor” à Haiti and to the “UN refugee agency” à Syria crisis

Jon Ward-Sr. Redevelopment Administrator 

Reading to the pre-K kids at Northmore Elementary School in West Palm Beach in October, 2016.

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Emily Marcus-Project Manager 

Since I’ve started working with RMA I have donated blood at every blood drive hosted at City Hall in Pompano Beach. Even though I don’t enjoy the process and actually find needles in my arm to be pretty off-putting, its a relatively simple way to really help someone in urgent need.

Farrell Tiller-Economic Development Assistant 

I had the opportunity to participate in the Quantum House Chef-for-a-Day program. Quantum House is an organization that accommodates families of children receiving treatment for a serious medical condition at St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida. The facility houses over 500 family members annually and is constantly seeking volunteers in various areas. Chef-for-a-day is a program where companies or individuals provide meals for the families staying at the Quantum House.

With the help of some friends, I was able to prepare fresh caught Grouper and Snapper for the 40 guests staying in the house. Both the kids and adults thoroughly enjoyed the dinner. We also had the chance to chat and interact with some of the guests. Most were interested in hearing stories about how we caught the fish and some shared their experiences and hardships with us. A surprising number of guests were from out of state or overseas, so they were extremely grateful to have a meal unique to South Florida.

All in all it was a very rewarding experience, the families seemed so happy to be able to sit down and enjoy a meal together and were so appreciative of our effort. I look forward to working with Quantum House again in the near future.

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Allison Justice-Director of Operations/Sr. Project Manager 

“One day at lunch in WPB, Genia mentioned that she had been to a meeting and Habitat for Humanity was there talking about Rhonda Wells and the home they were going to build for her. She got emotional just thinking about how special it would be to be a part of building a house for someone. Even though Genia isn’t much of a “handywoman”, she was willing to put herself out there and gather the RMA team to come help her.

I was excited when Genia asked us to be a part of this project. I have always wanted to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. My father was a contractor and I worked with him for a couple of summers during college and always helped out around the house, so construction comes natural. My only hesitation was that I did not want to be working on the roof. The summer after my Freshman year of college I was roofing with my dad when I slipped and fell 12 feet onto a gravel driveway….on my arm….my left arm…that I write with. Let’s just say, the nearly broken back, trying to write during the first part of my Sophomore year with a broken arm and the heart attack I nearly gave my dad was enough to keep me off roofs for awhile. Invariably, we got to the site and guess what our job was for the day? Yes, we were roofing! The excitement of working on this house for Rhonda Wells overpowered my fear of getting on that roof and by the end of the day, the accomplishment we all felt was overwhelming.”

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