Disney honored their top VoluntEARS at a recent ceremony where each winner was awarded $2,500 to donate to the non-profit of their choosing.
Each year, Disney selects a VoluntEAR of the Year, a VoluntEARS Team of the Year, and a VoluntEAR Family of the Year. The ceremony was held at Disney’s Yacht Club on May 7, 2019.
Disney VoluntEARS work hard each year to support and care for their Central Florida community, beyond the theme parks. From those members, Disney selects an individual, a team, and a family who have shown a true dedication to volunteering and gone above and beyond for their community.
“Our Disney VoluntEARS bring their compassion for others beyond theme parks and out into the Central Florida community each and every day,” said Tajiana Ancora-Brown, director of external affairs at Walt Disney World Resort. “We are thrilled to celebrate this year’s VoluntEARS of the Year for their amazing work supporting local children and families and leaving cherished impressions on the place we call home.”
VoluntEAR of the Year
This year, Debbie Weber, assistant operations manager on the animal nutrition center management team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, was recognized as VoluntEAR of the Year.
Debbie’s passion for nature spurred her to spend her time gathering supplies for animal care, working at butterfly gardens at Lake Louisa State Park and educating fellow Cast Members on how to become a Disney VoluntEAR. She volunteered for a total of 354 hours in 2018. Her $2,500 gift went to The Friends of Lake Louisa State Park, a non-profit which supports the Lake Louisa State Park, where she spent much of her time volunteering. Debbie also serves as a board member for the organization.
VoluntEARS Team of the Year
The Revenue Management and Analytics team at Walt Disney World Resort was selected as the VoluntEARS Team of the Year.
This team had 16 cast members working as VoluntEARS. Together, the group participated in 20 events throughout 2018. Some of the volunteering they did included gathering over 800 toys for Toys for Tots and collecting over 2,300 items for a back-to-school drive Disney hosts.
The team choose to give their $2,500 grant to Quest, Inc.’s Camp Thunderbird. This is an organization that provides caregiving and recreational programs to children and adults with developmental disabilities. The group has worked closely with this non-profit.
VoluntEAR Family of the Year
Jordan Baszner and his family were selected as VoluntEAR Family of the Year. Jordan is education manager at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
Jordan’s family worked together to maintain a Purple Martin (a North American bird species) habitat in their neighborhood. They also educated others on conservation.
Because volunteering as a family has been important to them, the Baszner’s chose the organization Embrace Families as their $2,500 recipient. Embrace Families works with children in need to help give them the best future possible.
Together, Debbie, the Revenue Management and Analytics team, and the Baszner family, gave nearly 3,000 hours of their time in 2018 to volunteering and serving their community. The entire VoluntEAR squad at Disney spent over 360,000 hours working toward bettering and growing the Central Florida community. This is only a small portion compared to the 8 million hours given since the start of the VoluntEAR program in 1983.
By Leah Sikes
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