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Abilities Foundation Newsletter

              March 2014 



Shorecrest Prep Students Eschew Spring Break  


Seventeen Shorecrest Prep students amassed substantial service hours during Spring Break by painting the exterior of a single-family residence owned by Homes For Independence. The project was the second collaboration in as many years between the Foundation, Home Depot, and Shorecrest to beautify and improve the home of a disabled veteran. After needing only seven hours over two days to paint the first home, they finished a second HFI-owned home slated for occupancy by a disabled veteran in eight hours over two days, despite a rain delay.  Culpepper Kurland isn't the only group who's "aggressive and tenacious!" We tip our paint caps to the students, Shorecrest's Su Stevens, Lee Ahlin, Andre Dervaes, and Tripp Welborne, Home Depot's Brett Bumgarner, and Glidden's Ray Bates, who donated 15 gallons of base and trim paint. Click here for photos.

GE Volunteers Leave Inedible Mark   

GE Volunteers Foundation's $5,000 gift and marvelous support from GE Aviation, Home Depot, and community volunteers enabled us to install the Armed Forces Flag Salute, and grade, form, and pour a foundation and concrete pad, set eight support columns, craft ridge and roof rafters, and affix the plywood sub-roof for the 26-foot square pavilion centerpiece. Through weather that ranged from bitter cold to balmy, we benefited from a phenomenal show of volunteer support and the pro-bono services of architects Bruce Houghton and James Mehltretter, civil engineer Jonathon Gotwald, Class-A general contractor Joe Mobley, and landscape contractor Peter Drouin. Click here for photos. Next up: With Home Depot funding and volunteers, we'll dry-in the roof and install the metal finish. Prepare to be impressed.
Farewell to
Muriel Boysen
Last month, staffers bid farewell to Muriel Boysen, a fixture at Abilities and ServiceSource for many years. It was her success at placing disabled veterans that captured the attention of officials at the Bay Pines VA Hospital and led to a steady stream of referrals to Warrior Bridge for job placement and Veterans Mall services. Muriel might be best remembered for two noted success stories: Scott Owens, who went from being a wounded soldier contemplating suicide to an AbilityOne employee, warrior ambassador and winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning "Community Hero" $50,000 award who now places disabled veterans in jobs for the Bay Pines VA; and Mike Dunlap, a U.S. Marine who went from living in his car to becoming the first recipient of a Veterans Mall home-starter kit, excelling as a security guard at Allied Barton, replacing Muriel as our job-placement specialist, coordinating Mall visits with Bay Pines and Tampa VA counselors and serving as spokesman for the Foundation and Warrior Bridge.



Event Calendar 

April 27

Guild Installation Brunch

Belleair Country Club 


May 24
Quarter-Century Abilities Wine Tasting   

Armed Forces History Museum  

To RSVP or volunteer for these events, call Lisa Johnson at 727-600-8911

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Letter from a grieving father...


Editor's Note: It was the renovation of the home of John Berg, a rugged 34-year-old outdoorsman with two young children who sustained a devastating brain-stem stroke that left him virtually motionless, that sparked a long-term partnership with Home Depot and led to the renovation of 29 homes of Floridians and veterans with disabilities. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Berg Family and wife Mindy and children who never faltered and stood steadfast and valiantly by John's side. Here is a letter from John Berg, Sr. to Home Depot's Frank Essex:


Hi Frank,

I know you remember my son's house in New Port Richey, which you organized work to be done on. I just wanted to let you know that my son died last week but that your kindness and that of Home Depot will never be forgotten. Since my son died the TV and Tampa Bay Times stories have been recirculated to friends and relatives all over the country and also in Sweden. It was a beautiful thing you did and my family is forever grateful.

John Berg, Sr.
Raymond James Presents Quarter-Century Celebration of Abilities Wine Tasting May 24
Yes, it's been 25 years since the Abilities Wine Tasting debuted under a tent at the ICOT Center and set the gold standard for wine and food events. Few charities can sustain and grow an event for a quarter century, and even fewer can report they've netted $3.63 million during that span. Join us Saturday, May 24th at the Armed Forces History Museum and taste why this perennial powerhouse has garnered numerous awards for 'Best Fundraiser for Charity' and 'Best Wine Event' from respected publications, and was a three-time finalist for WEDU's Be More Awards 'Event of the Year,' as you savor premium wines, gourmet cuisine, auction items, free parking, and a museum tour at Florida's longest-running and most prosperous three-hour wine and food showcase! Click here to buy early-bird 33% discount tickets online through May 16 to the $100 VIP Reception or $50 Grand Tasting, or call 727-600-8911. Alive at twenty-five!

Mall Serves 600th Veteran

Mall organizers eclipsed a significant milestone last week when they distributed their 600th 'home-starter' kit to a U. S. Navy veteran transitioning from homelessness to apartment life. Replete with kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom essentials,  job-interview clothes, and more, these kits help ensure that veterans referred by the Bill Young and James Haley VA Hospitals have a favorable chance of remaining in apartments and avoiding a return to homelessness. 
We salute the indefatigable Virginia Meyer and scores of foundations, military organizations, donors, and volunteers who support and embrace those patriots who sacrificed so much to defend our many freedoms.   

Queen's Court Captures Hearts

The Abilities Foundation and
Guild were honored to be charitable beneficiaries of The Queen's Court's 56th Annual Queen of Hearts Ball at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront. Our guests enjoyed a splendid evening of camaraderie and pageantry and the  opportunity for increased awareness and support of the Veterans Mall in South Pinellas County. We greatly admire and respect Elise Minkoff's investment of time and talents in chairing the Ball, and extend our gratitude to Queen's Court organizers and members for their efforts to ensure a memorable and prosperous affair. It was a pleasure for the Foundation and Guild to participate via sponsorships, program ads, auction donations, attendance, and volunteers, and share event proceeds with Academy Prep and Daystar. Click here for photos. 
27th Home Renovation a Beaut 

The Foundation partnered with Home Depot to modify the Riverview lakefront manse of Duane 'Red' Jensen, a burly but genteel U. S. Navy veteran who became a disability advocate after sustaining severe head, neck, and back injuries in a motorcycle accident. Little did we know, however, how often our paths crossed since he relocated to Tampa in 1995 for treatment at the James Haley VA Hospital. "I worked at or with Lighthouse for the Blind, Center for Independent Living, Disability Achievement Center, Bay Pines VA, Paralyzed Veterans Association, Abilities, and many more," said Red. "I even volunteered for you for years in the wine tasting at Tropicana Field!" Today he works full-time as a recreational therapy assistant at the Haley VA, and last week, nine volunteers from the Riverview Home Depot led by Robbie Kleinotas and Debi Dobolach, showed their appreciation of his military service and disability advocacy by installing privacy fencing, a pavered patio deck, and landscaping. "Now I can grill on my deck without fear of rolling into the lake," said Red. "I am so grateful to you and Home Depot!" Click here for photos.
Tax-wise planning tip...

Companies That Match Gifts Can Double Your Donation

to the Foundation!    




Click here
to donate now.           
Many companies have programs that will match your gift to the Abilities Foundation on a dollar-for-dollar (or more) basis. Employees, retirees, or spouses may qualify. When you contribute to the Foundation, ask if your employer or company from which you've retired participates. The process is simple. Advise them that you've made a donation to a 501c3 nonprofit organization -- the Abilities Foundation, 2735 Whitney Road, Clearwater, FL 33760. The company will ask us to verify your gift by mail or online and will send us a matching donation. Some employers, like Levi Strauss, will even donate cash to us in recognition of your volunteer hours! Click here for a partial list of participating companies or call Frank De Lucia at 727-600-8900.