Unity in the Community holds dinner celebrating its volunteers
Plant City’s Unity in the Community organization held its Annual Appreciation Dinner for its committed volunteers, on May 6.
Held inside the Trinkle Center at Hillsborough Community College – Plant City, the organization also recognized sponsors, partners, and community supporters.
“This was just our way of saying ‘thank you’ to so many that not only give up their time, but give up their money,” said Marsha Passmore, current board member and former chair of the organization.
This year has been a successful one for Unity in the Community, with the amount of proceeds collected from the Corvette raffle during the Florida Strawberry Festival in March. The ticket sales amounted to a record-breaking $360,000 – the most collected since the raffle drawing began 13 years ago. In that time, almost $3 million has been raised during festival time and donated to Unity in the Community. This year Stacy Spivey was the raffle winner who took home a 2022 Chevrolet Corvette from Stingray Chevrolet.
Steve and Susan Hurley are the owners of the local dealership, which donates a brand-new Corvette to give away each year.
Steve is the current chairman of the organization’s board.
During the dinner, the Hurley’s were among several recipients to receive a plaque, recognizing them for their service to the community.
“They just have such big hearts for this community as a whole,” said Sharon Moody, the current treasurer and former chair of Unity in the Community.
Also awarded were Keith Newberry, the regional manager of Winn-Dixie; Laura Meil; Karla Annable; the Stingray Chevrolet employees; and Felton’s Meat & Produce Market employees.
The staff at Stingray and Felton’s donate their own funds to the organization through a payroll deduction every year.
“It’s just the generosity of the dollars,” Passmore said. “All of these different people who give, that makes a huge difference. That’s why this organization is truly what I feel like Plant City is all about, and it’s just love and caring for your neighbors.”
Unity in the Community was founded in 1999 by Joyce Jordan Hooke, with the purpose of helping provide sufficient needs to other organizations and the locals of Plant City. Along with Hurley, Passmore, and Moody, the board of directors also consist of Vice-Chairman Matt Stone, Ted Alex, Jake Austin, Paul Davis, Danny Coton, Rich Gloriso, Joyce Jordan Hooke, Bill Hughes, and Brian West. The organization distributes 10 scholarships – $1,000 each toward selected students from Plant City high schools who meet the Unity in the Community’s criteria. It also partners with schools, providing them with funds that can go toward disadvantaged students.
As part of the budget, emergency funds are set aside for anyone who is in dire need of help.
Another annual fundraiser includes the Henry Falcon Memorial Golf Tournament which will be held on Oct. 7. The event is named after Henry Falcon, a board member who passed away last year due to COVID-19. There will be a clay shoot event taking place later this year as well.
In 2010, the Unity in the Community Park was opened in downtown Plant City on Collins Street.
The “pocket park” was renovated last year with a new brick pathway, LED lighting, a new entryway, upgraded landscaping, and more bench seating.
Another eye-catching addition is a mural painted on the south wall of the Whistle Stop Gourmet Coffee and Eatery.
It depicts prominent figures of Plant City, both past and present, as well as well-known locations in town.
With the betterment of Plant City as its central focus, the organization continues to show gratitude to those who help push that agenda forward.
“I guess that’s why it’s called Unity in the Community – because it’s a community organization, and when we help the community, it makes you feel good that you can help someone in your own backyard,” Moody said.