Ben and Nancy DiVona were named Family of the Month for June by St. Scholastica Knights of Columbus Council 14485.
They moved from Selden, New York, to the Tampa Bay area in 1976 before coming to Citrus County in 1998.
Ben became a knight in 2013. He has been co-director for the Culture of Life Program since 2015 and heavily involved with the Baby Bottle Campaign. Both Nancy and Ben have assisted with the Council’s Ad Campaign and Car Show, as well as volunteer at Daystar Life Center and Citrus County Blessings.
The Knights of Columbus Council 6168 Ladies Auxiliary celebrated its 50th anniversary luncheon on May 25 by awarding a $1,000 scholarship to Jillienne Lapid of Lecanto High School, a $500 scholarship to Morgan Tomasko of Withlacoochee Technical College and more than $1,500 in grants shared by Citrus County nonprofit organizations.
The $1,500 was shared by Citrus Abuse Shelter Association, the Pregnancy and Family Life Center, Citrus County Blessings, the Citrus County Family Resource Center and the Community Food Bank.
With proceeds from its own fundraising efforts, the Ladies Auxiliary every year awards charitable gifts to county nonprofits, a scholarship to a deserving female Citrus County Catholic high school senior, and a “careerist” scholarship.
Pictured from left are: Rachelle Garret-Butler, program director of Citrus County Blessings, Donna Hayes, Beth Tarnowski, Rick Jeroski, Shirley Gamache, Bev Kelly, Jill Jeroski and Christina Reed, executive director of Citrus County Blessings.
On May 25, the packing crew from West Citrus Elks Lodge arrived at Citrus County Blessings to pack weekend food for children. This time, however, along with packing 178 bags of weekend food, the crew brought a donation for $2,000.
The donation was made possible by using the Spotlight grant from the Grand Lodge of Elks.
The West Citrus Elks Lodge has two groups of volunteers that pack food. The food is sent home with the children on Friday to be sure that they have enough to eat over the weekend.
Pictured from right are: board member Jennifer McGee, David White, executive director Christina Reed, board chair Gail Bockiaro and program coordinator Rachelle Garrett-Butler.
Special to the Chronicle
Citrus County Blessings has received a $20,000 donation from its supporter Suncoast Credit Union.
Blessings is the county’s backpack meal program for local food-insecure children. Its mission is to provide meals to local children in need through donors, partners and volunteers.
“We are incredibly thankful to have the support of Suncoast Credit Union for our Blessings program,” said Christina Reed, executive director of Citrus County Blessings. “As we all are experiencing, prices are rising across the board for food, gas, etc. Receiving this donation from Suncoast Credit Union is extremely important in helping us feed these children.”
Suncoast Credit Union has been helping to support the Citrus County Blessings program for more than seven years.
The Kiwanis Club of Inverness is the oldest local nonprofit organization actively supporting the community and youth since 1925.
For the past 97 years, Kiwanis has been active in helping to build a better community in many ways.
For the past decade, Kiwanis has provided hundreds of hours of manpower and nearly $800,000 to charities and nonprofit organizations. The global COVID-19 pandemic impacted Kiwanis in 2021 by causing the cancellation of some events, but they are still going strong.
At present, Kiwanis has 46 dedicated members and volunteers, plus a board of directors. Their main focus is supporting youths throughout the county through supporting local organizations with similar missions.
This mission is accomplished by participating in major fundraisers for groups such as the Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Little League, the YMCA, local youths and school sports, Citrus County Schools, Citrus County Blessings, United Way, Fair Association, Citrus County Education Foundation, Cinderella’s Closet, Take Stock in Children, Filter Family Solutions, E-Nini-Hassee Girls Camp and the Phil Royal Legacy, as well as several annual scholarships for graduating high school seniors.
The Citrus Hills Women's Club proudly donates to many local non-profits throughout the year. Citrus County Blessings was honored to receive $2000 at their recent luncheon supporting local food-insecure children.
Citrus County Blessing’s Board of Directors and staff presented Citrus Libraries with a certificate of appreciation during their March board meeting.
Their partnership with Citrus County Blessings’ school year backpack program and summer Feed the Kids program is essential for its success. Each summer, Blessings uses several library campuses to distribute fresh produce for their program. During COVID 19, the libraries were a pivotal component to Blessings’ families getting the food they desperately needed. In addition, Blessings use the libraries as a distribution point, letting families go there during operating hours and pick up their weekend bags.
Our volunteers were at it again at the strawberry festival this year. They helped out at the auditorium and Gate 2. They were directing festival goers and selling delicious Ferris Farms Strawberries. Thank you to the "Best Volunteers Ever"!
For the past two years, Inverness Elks Lodge 2522 has used the Elks National Foundation Spotlight Grant to make a $2,000 donation to this local charity.
Approximately 72 percent of children enrolled in Citrus County’s public schools participate in the free/reduced lunch program. Of those 72 percent, 69 percent qualify for free lunch and 3 percent qualify for reduced-price lunch.
The Blessings program provides 1,900 local students in 28 schools with six meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days) to take home every Friday of the school year.
The students are also given additional food to take home over the school breaks. Each child is recommended by a school employee. Students’ identities are protected and their names are only released to staff and key volunteers.
The Blessings program utilizes two staff members and more than 900 volunteers each month to transport pallets, pack bags and deliver the food to the schools.
Executive Director Christina Reed and program coordinator Rachel Garret-Butler also have the Inverness Elks put together a regular volunteer team to help out on the first Wednesday morning of every month during the school year.
Reed, Garret-Butler and Elks past president Richard Grosnick have worked together tirelessly to provide support to Citrus County Blessings.