Mike and Amy Southard, founders of Crofton Cares, were recently honored as the recipients of the Starting Right, Now, 2020 Soul Award. Starting Right, Now is an organization that is working to end homelessness for youth in the Tampa area by providing one-on-one mentoring, a stable home, and assistance with employment opportunities, financial literacy, and educational achievement. SRN students learn to let go of old behaviors and embrace a new way of being.
“The award represents a metamorphosis of a butterfly, which is very similar to the students’ transformation in Starting Right, Now”, said founder Vicki Sokolik. “SRN is providing for each of our homeless students a safe space to grow in order for them to realize their own potential as a beautiful butterfly.” She continued, “This year the Soul Award is presented to Mike and Amy Southard, who have financially supported SRN and this year went above and beyond by creating a scholarship for one of the SRN students to attend University of Tampa on a four-year ride.”
Thanks to an undisclosed gift from Amy and Mike Southard of Pepper Pike, UCP of Greater Cleveland now offers a new adaptive and inclusive playground at its headquarters near University Circle.
UCP of Greater Cleveland will celebrate the complete renovation and reopening of their brand new adaptive and inclusive playground for individuals with disabilities during an intimate dedication event on Saturday, October 10, 2020. The small gathering, featuring remarks from UCP leadership and families, will take place on the playground beginning at 1:00 p.m. outside of the UCP of Greater Cleveland’s Iris S. and Bert L. Wolstein Center on Euclid Avenue. During the event, the lead donors of the project will be honored through the official naming of the Amy and Mike Southard Adaptive & Inclusive Playground.
The originally constructed playground that was built over 20 years ago became weathered and worn. Its use by UCP therapists and children was no longer an option. However, due to the generosity of Amy and Mike Southard through their foundation Crofton Cares, demolition of the old equipment and surfacing began in January 2020, followed by spring/early summer construction and was recently completed to be enjoyed by those affiliated with UCP.
“This new playground is literally a dream come true for our staff. When asked a few years ago what they needed to better serve these children with significant developmental disabilities, they immediately answered “an adaptive and inclusive playground,” said Trish Otter, President and C.E.O. of UCP. “As a non-profit organization that operates at a deficit in order to serve the needs of these children and their families, this was a tall order to fill. We are very grateful for this wonderful gift.” This event will be closed to the public; however, members of the media are invited to attend. Social distancing and mask wearing will be adhered to.
About UCP of Greater Cleveland
The mission of UCP of Greater Cleveland is to empower children and adults with disabilities to advance their independence, productivity and inclusion in the community. More than 1,500 individuals with a wide variety of disabilities, not only cerebral palsy, benefit annually from high-quality therapy services, family supports, and community integration and employment opportunities. The nonprofit organization employs 160 individuals offering comprehensive children’s therapy services through LeafBridge, A Center of Excellence for Children, and adult employment and community integration services through OakLeaf, A Center of Excellence for Adults. The UCP of Greater Cleveland headquarters is located at 10011 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106. The agency also operates a location at Highland Hills and at various educational and vocational sites throughout Cuyahoga and surrounding counties. Please visit ucpcleveland.org to learn more.
The Florida Holocaust Museum Fundraising Effort supported by Crofton Cares turned out to be a great success. After Crofton Cares pledged to donate $18,000 in matching gifts, the museum reported fundraising totals of nearly $27,000. In response, Crofton Cares raised its matching gifts pledge from $18,000 to $25,000, helping the Florida Holocaust Museum raise more than $50,000 to provide free trunks filled with books and classroom resources teachers can use to fulfill a Holocaust education mandate in Florida. Said one donor whose contribution was matched, “As a fifth grade teacher at Plumb Elementary School I use the teaching trunks every year. The trunk…made the Holocaust teaching unit highly anticipated and much appreciated.”
To learn more about the Florida Holocaust Museum, click here.
Starting Right, Now is an organization that is working to end homelessness for youth by providing one-on-one mentoring, a stable home, and assistance with employment opportunities, financial literacy, and educational achievement. Crofton Cares has provided financial support to Starting Right, Now. As a result, a young woman known as Zee has become a college student at the University of Tampa. Learn More.
To ensure teachers have access to Holocaust education tools, Crofton Cares has offered to match donations made to the 6th Annual Trunks of Hope online campaign, in support of the the Florida Holocaust Museum. The campaign is raising funds to provide free trunks filled with books and classroom resources teachers can use to fulfill a Holocaust education mandate in Florida. Crofton Cares will match gifts up to $18,000 during the campaign. If you would like to make a donation, click here to visit the site.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Crofton Cares has made a gift to the University Hospitals COVID-19 Caregiver Support Fund, created to help defray the unanticipated costs of the health crises. These costs range from extensive patient care and testing, medical supplies and research to providing for the protection, wellness and resilience of University Hospital’s staff.
“During this crisis, we wanted to help our community support UH and its caregivers,” said Michael Southard, co-founder of Crofton Cares. “And the best way to help them is to give them the resources they need to fight this battle.”
“In addition, Crofton’s support will help accelerate important research studies and enhance the safety and wellbeing of our caregivers,” added Daniel I. Simon, MD, Chief Clinical & Scientific Officer, University Hospitals and President, UH Cleveland Medical Center.