Givers Gala raises nearly $150,000 for United Way-SJC, celebrates philanthropy

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The United Way of St. Johns County and its supporters raised nearly $150,000 at the organization’s second annual Givers Gala on Jan. 25 at Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach.

With 260 people attending the sold-out event, funds were raised through ticket proceeds, sponsorships, a live auction led by state Sen. Aaron Bean, a silent auction and other donations made at the event. According to Melissa Nelson, president and CEO of the United Way of St. Johns County, the proceeds will go toward the organization’s Community Impact Fund, which is designed to make program grants for nonprofit partners.

“This is one of several ways we are able to make a difference in the community,” Nelson told the Register via email. “For example, we typically have 28 to 30 nonprofits present programs to us during the spring process. The portal to make a request for funding has just opened. In the next few months, we will work with volunteers to vet the organizations and programs to determine what should be funded and at what level.”

In addition to dinner and dancing, thanks to music from The Royals, the local organization also presented a series of awards throughout the evening. Alpha-Omega Miracle Home, which provides housing, counseling and education to single mothers and their children and senior women, received the Nonprofit Award. Jim and Kathy Lobinsky received the Emerging Philanthropist Award. Their efforts include, among others, supporting the Special Olympics; Hugs Across the County; the Nicholas Wozniak Foundation; and the United Way’s RealSense Tax Prep program. 

The United Way awarded Publix the Corporate Award for demonstrating a “company-wide commitment to support the community and nonprofits financially, with volunteers and through advocacy.” Gregory B. White received the Trailblazer Award for his efforts in supporting and improving the quality of life for those in the West Augustine community. Randal and Paula Ringhaver were awarded the Legacy Award for “multi-generational philanthropic giving and their commitment to nonprofits.”

In honor of John Bailey Sr., the founding member and past president of the United Way of St. Johns County, the John and Peggy Bailey Sr. Community Leadership Award was presented to Joseph and Jane Boles Jr.

“They loved this community,” Mark Bailey, son of John and Peggy Bailey, said about his parents. “Our recipients are no different.”

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