Westgate Resorts Foundation Honored During Annual National Philanthropy Day

Leaders of Central Florida’s major charities and foundations gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grand Lakes Hotel on November 22, 2013, for the purpose of recognizing the very best of the philanthropy community.

The three-hour event, hosted by Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer creators of the “Growing Bolder” program with special guest Andrew Watt, the President and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, was a testament to the power of giving and community spirit that coincided well with the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

The Westgate Resorts Foundation was honored at this prestigious event with the award for Most Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation for their unique homeless initiative – the Hospitality Helps program – Westgate Resorts Chief Operating Officer Mark Waltrip drove home the reality of the incidental homelessness problem in central Florida.  Waltrip began, “It’s highly likely that if you send your child to public school in Orange, Seminole, or Osceola counties, that one of their classmates is homeless.  It is up to us to change the face of homelessness,” he added, “Most people who think of homelessness imagine the man at the bottom of an interstate exit ramp with the cardboard sign.  That’s only part of the problem.  There are women, children, and families at risk in our community that need our help.”  Waltrip went on to praise the work of the staff of the Hospitality Helps program and encouraged guests in attendance to do everything in their power to change the conversation on homelessness and get involved.

The Westgate Resorts Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to actively support charitable activities in areas where Westgate Resorts’ team members live and work.  Emphasis is placed on children, women, families, senior, veterans and other local programs that improve the quality of life in our resort communities. Hospitality Helps is a unique private-public partnership that was founded by the Westgate Resorts Foundation and our partners to help Central Florida families transition out of incidental homelessness by providing sustainable housing, employment, incidental items such as toiletries, cookware, clothing, and furniture, and finally case management or follow-up to ensure that the families making the transition are taking adequate strides toward independence.

For more information about National Philanthropy Day or the Association for Fundraising Professionals, please visit http://www.afpcentralflorida.org/npd/.  For more information about volunteer opportunities with Hospitality Helps, please contact program director Ellen Tatich at ellen_tatich@wgresorts.com or 407-351-3351, x. 561.

Contact:          Frank Blanco
Telephone:    407-351-3351, x. 534
Cell Phone:    407-497-3330
Email:              frank_blanco@wgresorts.com

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