By CHRIS PORTER
ENGLEWOOD — The break room at Englewood real estate office of Michael Saunders & Co. was full of smiles this week as representatives from six nonprofits gathered for a breakfast feast of fresh fruit, waffles and other goodies.
But it wasn’t just the food that had them smiling.
Each year, Michael Saunders’ agents contribute to a fund established by the company’s leadership, the MSC Foundation. And once a year, several nonprofits are chosen to benefit from that generosity. This year, the Englewood office reported 100% participation, and a grand total just under $6,000.
The office’s representative on the MSC Foundation’s board, agent Mitch Messenberg, and Managing Broker Mary Smedley, teamed up Tuesday morning to emcee the presentation and introduce the recipients.
First up was Child Evangelical Fellowship of Florida, a group that provides after-school care for children. Nada Decker of the Manasota Chapter, talked about the group’s Good News Club, and the need for scholarships, so children can attend.
Next was Horses Helping Hearts, a nonprofit horse therapy organization based in Englewood. Kathy Genth told the group about Hope, a registered miniature therapy horse she takes to visit and assist those in need.
Another locally based nonprofit to benefit from a grant is the Wobbly Feet Foundation. Kathy Castellano and daughter Samantha Dzembo talked about Samantha’s son Conor and the family’s battle with his Ataxia-Telangiectasia, a rare, progressive, multi-systematic inherited disorder that attacks the nervous and immune systems. The family established the Wobbly Feet Foundation to aid other families dealing with A-T.
Jan “English” Leather and Judy Still represented Angel Land Food Forest of Venice, whose mission it is to purchase land in Englewood and grow a food forest to help feed the working poor, the elderly and low-income and homeless people.
The Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies was represented by executive director Linda Lusk, who talked about the Charlotte County-based organization’s mission to help victims of assault and other crimes through its hotline and helpline, its shelters, and by helping victims decipher court proceedings and transition to a safe place where their families can flourish. The funds would be used for heavy-duty cleaning equipment, she said.
The final grant recipient was Mission 22, a group dedicated to combating the suicides by veterans of military service. Dana Saier, the organization’s state leader, traveled from Orlando to accept the contribution and address the group.