~ 2017 Unsung Hero: Jane Morse-Swett ~ Head of Women With Purpose ~ Jane Helps to Ease the Burdens of Cancer in People’s Lives
Women With Purpose started in 2012, after Jane Morse-Swett had spent over 20 years working in oncology and witnessing the toll that the diagnosis of cancer had on devastated families. Even if one has insurance, it is not enough. The cancer patient still has to pay their rent or mortgage, utilities, car insurance, car payment and of course the list goes on in today’s world. Women With Purpose is there to help take some of the anxiety away!
Women With Purpose does a direct pay of living expenses to families facing financial distress when a loved one is undergoing treatment. Women With Purpose members are all volunteers with no one receiving a salary. They all believe in the power of paying it forward, support from local leadership, positive attitudes and the support of local entrepreneurs. Financial contributions are what Women With Purpose need to succeed. Women With Purpose helps cancer families everyday in the Tampa Bay area. Their motto: “Give Where You Live: It doesn’t matter how much you give, it only matters that you do.”
~ 2017 Unsung Hero: Linda Burhans ~ The Gal That Cares For the Caregivers!
As an expert in Caregiver Advocacy and Best Selling Author, Linda Burhans has facilitated over 1400 support groups, speaking engagements and workshops for caregivers. She shares lessons learned and coping tools with thousands of caregivers who attend her events, read her work or listen to her weekly radio program.. Her weekly blogs provide expert guidance on resources and best practices for caregivers all over the United States.
She is ever awed by the strength, resilience, and commitment of the caregivers she meets and seeks to remind them that they are not alone. Help is available and it is okay to accept that help. Caregivers that seek to take on everything on their own often decline in health. The most important thing she teaches is that caregivers need and deserve the time and space to take care of themselves. Linda Burhans is The Gal That Cares For the Caregivers!
~ 2017 Unsung Hero: Bob Parkinson ~ Living Out “Building Effective Relationships” as a Teacher, a Communications Consultant… and a Devoted Husband!
Bob Parkinson’s diverse professional life has involved him in business, academia, and government activities, all concentrating on the importance of effective communication in developing relationships. Specific areas of attention have included formal education where he has served as an elementary and high school classroom teacher and administrator, and later as a university professor. He played a principle role in the development and implementation of the successful school desegregation program in the Evanston, Illinois, public school system. When he was a member of the Governor’s staff in Illinois, Bob developed strategies for implementing federal legislation and programs to expand employment and training opportunities for people throughout the state. As a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Bob’s conducted educational research in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Botswana. He’s also provided corporate support to companies throughout the U.S. and internationally by offering more than 1,800 instructional programs and seminars concentrating on the skills necessary for building effective relationships.
An active author, he writes a weekly column for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and he has had fifteen books published on business communications and management techniques including the latest, Be As Good As You Think You Are which was co-authored with his wife, Eileen.
~ 2017 Unsung Hero: Eileen Parkinson ~ An Inspirational Force in Communications, Motivation and Exploring the opportunities of Successful Aging!
Relationships, whether they are with another person or with groups of people, are dependent in large part on the ability to communicate well. Eileen Parkinson, communications consultant and coach, has more than twenty years hands-on experience in the field of communication. She is a former news anchor, documentary producer, and professional singer and actor. Her varied and extensive experiences have enabled her to provide a unique approach to teaching and coaching business professionals at all levels from CEO’s to the newly hired, throughout the United States and internationally, as well.
One of her prime objectives is to help individuals learn and master skills that establish that person’s unique presence when communicating with others – life skills that lead to success in whatever one chooses to do. To that end, she co-authored Be As Good As You Think You Are, a book written with her husband, Bob, and published by Motivational Press, which is designed to help everyone interested in personal improvement and development. Eileen is also a past President of the Chicago Branch of Screen Actors Guild. She also sat on the National Board of Directors of S.A.G., as well as that of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (now merged as SAG-AFTRA). Because of her interest in the “art of graceful aging” she also served on the board of Terra Nova Films, whose mission was to provide educational and informative films and videos that focused on exploring the opportunities of successful aging along with its many challenges.
~ 2017 Unsung Hero: Stephen Schirra ~ Helping to Change the World… One Soccer Ball At A Time!
At the age of 23, Stephen Schirra set out to use soccer as a driving force for youth development and social change. His efforts materialized into the founding of Around the Worlds, Around the World – a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to teaching the game of soccer and distributing soccer equipment to orphaned and otherwise underprivileged children all over the world. Stephen has also touched the lives of children within the United States by running programs at emergency youth shelters and refugee homes for Latin American youth in Texas (Dallas & San Antonio). To this day, he has shared the game with over 3,400 underprivileged children from 70+ organizations spanning 18 different countries. He has also hand-delivered 1,153 soccer balls through his workshops.
Stephen has also created a perpetual scholarship fund to award one $1,000 scholarship each year to a local, graduating senior using sports to make a difference in the community. Stephen also uses his off days in between international workshops to visit local classrooms and youth groups in order to share stories and lessons he has learned through Around the Worlds. Stephen’s hope is that he might inspire a new generation to give back and make a difference in the world.
~ 2017 Unsung Hero: Sara Taylor ~ Cultural Greatness through Diversity!
Sara Taylor, President and Founder of deepSEE Consulting, has twenty five years of extensive training and consulting experience serving local, national and global clients. While her areas of specialty are in both Diversity and Leadership Development, Sara has become a thought leader particularly in the field of Cultural Competence. Her bestselling book, Filter Shift: How Effective People SEE the World, is used by numerous individuals and organizations to increase success and create greater effectiveness.
Sara holds a Master’s degree in Diversity and Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota, is bi-lingual in Spanish and English and, prior to founding deepSEE, held positions such as Chief Diversity Officer and Leadership and Diversity Specialist.
~ 2017 Unsung Hero: Rob Rowen ~ Involved in working to make the world better most of his life
Rob Rowen has been involved in working to make the world better most of his life. In 1990 he was Founding President of the Tampa Bay Business Committee for Culture and the Arts and in 2002 the Kaleidoscope Children’s Festival. He was Board Chair of the Tampa Bay Children’s Chorus, The South Tampa Chamber of Commerce, and the South Tampa Military Affairs Committee. He was given an Honorary Ambassadorship to Central Command for his work with the International Coalition of military officers serving there.
He worked in Bangladesh after Typhoon Sidr and it inspired him In 2008 to create Global Action Coalition with several amazing community leaders an organization to work in Nepal and Africa to help with education, water and health projects. He currently is the Chairman of the Board as they work to expand their work in many ways.
~ 2017 Unsung Hero: Tom Melville ~ Executive Director of the Literacy Council of Sarasota (LCS)
Tom Melville has been the Executive Director of The Literacy Council of Sarasota (LCS) since February, 2014. Having relocated from Monterey, California and buying a new home, Tom brings with him almost 20 years of nonprofit executive management experience.
A military veteran with over ten years on active duty, his previous positions also include working with homeless organizations, HIV/AIDS service agencies, coalitions, and with community foundation development and fundraising.
~ 2017 Unsung Hero: Dr. Mark W. Tong~ Spiritual Healer / Teacher ~ Founder of Healing International & Author of “Prevent Cancer”
Spiritual Healer/Teacher, Dr. Mark Tong was born with the knowing and understanding of Spiritual healing. Throughout his life he would have Spiritual teachers appear and give him the foundation to the art of Spiritual healing. Dr. Tong was given the opportunity to work at an alternative cancer clinic with Stage IV cancer patients. It was here he developed a process to identify the underlying emotional events and trauma that manifested into the disease. By implementing his process, it gave patients the opportunity to receive healing and to obtain Peace.
Using this same process, Dr. Tong now teaches others to assist those with physical and emotional “issues” to heal and obtain wellness. He is the discoverer of the “7 Life Lessons”. Through this discovery, he found that everyone is working on specific “life lesson(s)”, and each of the lessons are tied to specific emotions, events and relationships. He also discovered he and his students can assist others in identifying their specific lesson(s) and more importantly assist them to achieving the lesson(s). Dr. Mark also realized this same principle is applicable to significant relationships, as often the issues within the relationship are tied to “life lessons”. Therefore, the same process is found to be just as effective in healing significant relationships almost immediately, thus avoiding ongoing counseling.
~ 2017 Special Honoree: Lisa Hein ~ Author, Motivational Speaker, Former Radio Talk Show Host
Lisa Hein has authored two wonderful family oriented books. Her heart and compassion thrives on family issues. During her encounter with ‘parentdom,’ she says she realized that no matter how hard she attempt to raise a magnificent child, he had a very strong personality of his own. Her first book, THE BOOK “I’m Doing The Best I Can!” (They won’t always be cute and adorable) came to her through journaling her desires to reach a healthy plateau with her teenage son. Several years later Lisa chose to write a Christian-based parenting resource that allows parents and children to realize that we are not in charge and that God, who is her higher power, is.
Because of her passion, she took to the internet media with her own talk show entitled, “Everyday Parenting.” For three years Lisa interviewed ordinary everyday parents to very well-known authors and some of Hollywood’s elite. During the height of her career, Lisa became very ill and took a break from the things she loves the most – helping others. She says that God has taken her in another direction and feels that another book is being stirred up inside her. Lisa is an asset to anyone who she is in contact with. Lisa is always willing to jump in and get things done and always with excellence.
* Al Cole, founder of the People of Distinction Humanitarian Awards, owes a great debt of gratitude to Lisa – she introduced Al to many of the wonderful Unsung Heroes who will be honored at our 2017 Florida event!