As the 2016-2017 school year came to a close, many teachers and students received recognition for all their hard work and efforts, but it was inspiring to see volunteers also being recognized for their dedication and selflessness at the annual KAPOW (Kids and the Power of the Workplace) Recognition Dinner and Awards Banquet at Jungle Island presented by Volunteer Florida.
Volunteer Florida is Florida’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service, administering more than $32 million in federal, state, and local funding to deliver high-impact national service and volunteer programs in Florida. Volunteer Florida promotes and encourages volunteerism to meet critical needs across the state.
Learning for Success and its KAPOW program is one of only 23 organizations throughout the state to receive a grant this year from Volunteer Florida. “This grant has greatly helped us expand and develop the work of our skills based KAPOW volunteers throughout South Florida,” says John Casbarro, Learning for Success, Inc. President and KAPOW Director.
Audrey Kidwell, Volunteer Generation Fund Program Manager for Volunteer Florida, presented the “Excellence in Volunteerism Award” to Damian O’Brien. O’Brien, a 4th grade teacher at Bethune Elementary School, began volunteering with KAPOW in 2003. He has provided over 624 hours of civic engagement and community service, impacting more than 42,000 children in the Broward County community.
“The Broward County Volunteer of the Year Award” was presented to Brendan Cobb from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Cobb (Also known as Mr. B.) has been a KAPOW volunteer for about 10 years, and the last three at West Hollywood Elementary. His KAPOW partner teacher, Jennifer Wisnoski, nominated him for the prestigious honor.
“As a Title I school the KAPOW program and Mr. B have opened my student’s eyes to career life after school by giving my students the opportunity to interact with people from the workplace,” said Wisnoski. “Mr. B has been professional, accommodating, and responsible. Every time Mr. B comes into our classroom he has an engaging lesson where the students have fun while learning.” “Our volunteers are the heart and soul of our KAPOW program,” added Casbarro. “We are awed and humbled by the time, efforts and expertise they provide,as exemplified by Brendan Cobb and Damian O’Brien.”
KAPOW, now in its 25th year, serves 6,000 students annually. The unique collaboration between the school district, 100 area businesses and community organizations, volunteers, and 64 South Florida schools introduces and exposes students to career awareness through professionally designed lessons taught by volunteers in the classroom and on work sites.
KAPOW brings volunteers into schools to teach kids about work, and how to be a success in school, work and life. KAPOW also brings students to the workplace, to experience peoples’ jobs first-hand, expose them to jobs in real time, and connect partner companies and organizations to the community.