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21280 Highway 27
Directions Lake Wales, FL 33859

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2017 Award Recipients

                                                                 May

Shield The Badges 

Members of the McGuire team present the May McGuire Difference Award to Shield the Badges. Shown are Will Dyer, Dan Derringer, Sean McGuire, Ashton Bardwell, Sarah and Chanel McGuire.

Every day, law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to help protect and serve the community, rushing into dangerous situations as others are running for safety. Last year, a non-profit organization called Shield the Badges was formed in Polk County to help ensure the safety of law enforcement officers going into the kinds of life-threatening situations they often face, including those involving high-caliber assault rifles. While law enforcement officers typically wear protective gear designed to keep them safe, a bulletproof vest is no match for high-caliber rifle fire, a situation which has become more prevalent in recent years. The May McGuire Difference Award was given to Shield the Badge to assist in their goal of helping to purchase Active Shooter Response Kits for law enforcement officers.

The Active Shooter Response Kits include a safety vest which is carried in an officer's vehicle. When responding to a dangerous situation involving an active shooter, the vests can be easily put on over an officer's normal uniform to protect him or her against high caliber rifle fire. Since its inception less than a year ago, Shield the Badges has provided Active Shooter Response Kits for over 240 officers. With assistance from the May McGuire Difference Award, ten officers from the Lake Hamilton Police Department will be outfitted with the life-saving kits, and Shield the Badges will move on to another law enforcement agency.

Each month, members of the McGuire staff meets to review the applications which have been submitted and select one non-profit organization to receive that month's recognition and $3,000 award. For the members of the McGuire staff, it's all about helping to make a positive difference in the community. For the recipients, it's an acknowledgement of their tireless efforts to do the same and a much-needed financial boost to help further their missions.  If you'd like to nominate a non-profit organization from Polk County for the McGuire Difference Award, please visit www.mcguirekia.com and click on the McGuire Difference tab. 


April

Lake Wales Pram Fleet Sales

From Left to Right: James Salisbury, Robert Fackender, Bryson Fackender, Sarah McGuire

Pram Fleet Sails Away with the McGuire Difference

 

Teaching a child to sail helps improve a host of other skills that will benefit the child throughout his or her life. Sailing teaching self-confidence, eye-hand coordination, a sense of direction and spatial awareness, critical thinking and decision-making, organization, and attention to details like the weather and the tension of leads and lines. In short, sailing is a skill that helps to develop and improve a child's ability to learn and grow into a wise, well-rounded, and thoughtful adult. Those are just a few of the reasons why Lake Wales Pram Fleet was chosen as the recipient of the April McGuire Difference Award.

As the second oldest pram fleet in the world, Lake Wales Pram Fleet has taught hundreds of children the art and skill of sailing. And while the non-profit organization focuses on children ages nine to fifteen, the skills the young sailors learn last a lifetime and benefit them and the community tremendously. Character-building, which is just one of the achievements of Pram Fleet's young sailors, is a priceless skill. Unfortunately, the sailboats used to instruct the young sailors are showing signs of age and use, and in order to continue providing the program and service to all children in the community, Pram Fleet is in need of an updated fleet itself. Understanding that many families simply cannot afford to do so, Pram Fleet provides the boats to the young sailors during their instruction. With the help of the McGuire Difference Award, another generation of young sailors will have the opportunity to learn to sail, overcome its fears, and conquer the mighty waterways surrounding us.

Each month, members of the McGuire staff meets to review the applications which have been submitted and select one non-profit organization to receive that month's recognition and $3,000 award. For the members of the McGuire staff, it's all about helping to make a positive difference in the community. For the recipients, it's an acknowledgement of their tireless efforts to do the same and a much-needed financial boost to help further their missions.  If you'd like to nominate a non-profit organization from Polk County for the McGuire Difference Award, please visit www.mcguirekia.com and click on the McGuire Difference tab.  



 MARCH

Lake Wales Library Association

 Left to Right:  Sean McGuire, Tina Peak, Sarah McGuire, Lloyd Leonardo.

 McGuire Difference - Generations of A Land Remembered

Whether it's looking for a job, a good read, an interesting video, or research on family or community history, the Lake Wales Library Association's Friends of the Library organization helps serve over 18,000 library users and customers in Lake Wales. The Lake Wales Library is always ready to help readers young and old, job hunters, undiscovered authors, students in school, seniors and even visitors to the community through its programs, experienced, caring staff, and magnitude of materials available to help others learn and grow. Because of a strong dedication to the community and a commitment to literacy, education, and the availability of great resources, the McGuire staff chose the Lake Wales Library Association's Friends of the Library group as the recipient of the March McGuire Difference Award.

In an effort to bring history to life right here in our own yard, the Friends of the Library partnered with the Lake Wales Arts Council to present Rick Smith, son of famed author Patrick Smith of the legendary historical novel A Land Remembered, which chronicled the history of Florida's cracker cowboy era. Along with Rick Smith's family-friendly program bringing A Land Remembered to life for all those in attendance, an exhibition of Florida artist Blair Updike's work paid homage to Florida's agriculture, landscape, people, and wildlife. The McGuire Difference Award helped bring the program to the area and market it in schools and throughout the community as part of Lake Wales's Centennial Anniversary of incorporation as a city. 



 FEBRUARY

Habitat for Humanity

 Left to right: Sean  McGuire, Donna Baldwin, Sarah McGuire and Julie Farish

            Home, Sweet Home for McGuire Difference and Habitat

        A few years ago, Mr. Thomas was a single dad working two jobs and trying to raise four sons. His dreams in life were not of fame and fortune, and his goals were to provide a safe, comfortable, and permanent home for his boys to grow up in. With hard work, sweat equity, and help from Habitat for Humanity of East Polk County, Inc., Mr. Thomas is now a homeowner, and his four boys not only have a home, sweet home to call their own but a real-life lesson on the power of community, working together, and believing in your dreams. The life-changing power of Habitat for Humanity of East Polk County and its belief in offering a "hand up, not a hand out," is the reason the organization was chosen to receive the February McGuire Difference Award and check for $3,000.

            Over 360 individuals are served each year through Habitat for Humanity of East Polk County, and 141 families have been assisted on the road to home ownership. Each of these families helped build their homes and others, and each family in a Habitat home is now a taxpaying homeowner. And they wouldn't have it any other way. For his part, Mr. Thomas is now able to work only one job, attend sporting events to cheer on his children, and is a full two years ahead on his home payments. For the staff family at McGuire KIA, recognizing Habitat for Humanity and supporting the organization's Chili in the Park, which is slated for Saturday, March 11th at Lake Eva Park, was a way to show its gratitude to the organization, its volunteers, and the lives that are changed and vastly-improved through opportunities for affordable home ownership.








JANUARY

Circle of Friends
 Left to right: Sean Mcguire, Mary Morris, Mertice W Kelly, Sarah Mcguire, Rebecca Cole and a group of students from Circle of Friends Melissa Biggs, Lynette Brown, Reggie Robinson, Andrew Sockin, Audrey Taylor, Robbie Martinez and Mike Ortaliz 
Celebrate the McGuire Difference Award

 Early Learning Coalition
  Left to right: Will and John Dyer, Lisa Davis, Sean McGuire, Karen Hallman, Sarah McGuire, Harriet & David Dyer


Family Literacy Academy of Lake Wales
 
Left to right: Will Dyer, John Dyer, Sean McGuire (holding) Chanel McGuire present the McGuire Difference Award to Gail Crun and Deming Cowles of Family Literacy Academy, as Sarah McGuire, Harriet and David Dyer

A Trifecta of Community Service Honored by McGuire Difference Awards

 

Three tremendous community service organizations were honored with the January McGuire Difference Award recently. Not only did all three organizations receive a plaque commemorating their service to the community, each organization also received a check for $3,000 from the McGuire Difference Award in order to help continue the good work they do within the community. Honored were Circle of Friends Ministry, a non-profit, all-volunteer organization which provides enhancement to the lives of Polk County children and young adults with physical and/or developmental disabilities, the Early Learning Coalition of Polk County, and the Family Literacy Academy at Lake Wales.

The Family Literacy Academy is a community-based program which offers free General Education Degree (GED) and English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) classes for adults, parenting and educational classes for adults and children, and parenting and intergenerational activities along with postsecondary education programs in Lake Wales. Parents bring their children to class for age-appropriate teaching and tutoring, including reading and homework assistance and kindergarten preparation.

The Early Learning Coalition of Polk County also revolves around education and school readiness, providing voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) programs which serve an average of 8,700 children each month. Early Learning Coalition also helps child care providers in the area improve their skills and sites to ensure safety and optimal learning opportunities for tiny tots, and help to promote programs which educate and serve the community's children in developing the skills they will need to be successful in the future.

Circle of Friends Ministry provides opportunities for individuals to reach their potential despite any labels or limitations facing them. The organization works to enhance lives by offering social, educational, and cultural activities as well as respite opportunities for caregivers. The organization, which began with just one mom hoping to create a means to inclusion for her special child, now serve over a hundred families in Polk County.

All three organizations were on hand recently to celebrate with members of the McGuire KIA staff family, and each organization shared gratitude and great excitement over what the award means to its membership and how the $3,000 donation will help to promote each organization's respective mission. And while not every month can be a trifecta of awards, it was an exciting and unique chance for McGuire KIA's staff family to show its own support and appreciation for the hard work and volunteerism of members of the community in a special and tangible way.