The awards honor local philanthropists, nonprofits and volunteers


Jordan Weiland

It was a family affair as two generations of the Barnett family took home top awards at the National Philanthropy Day Awards celebration in Lakeland on Friday. Ashley and Wesley Barnett were one of two couples named Philanthropist of the Year, and Wesley’s parents – Carol and Barney Barnett – received the Outstanding Philanthropy Award.

An estimated 200 people attended the annual First Presbyterian Church Awards Breakfast presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Polk County Chapter with the help of GiveWell Community Foundation.

The winners were:

  • Outstanding Philanthropy Award: Carol and Barney Barnett, nominated by Lakeland Academy Prep Center for helping found the organization
  • Philanthropist of the Year: Ashley and Wesley Barnett, nominated by United Way of Central Florida for volunteering, fundraising, providing matching funds and advocating for United Way
  • Philanthropist of the Year: Denis and Mary Grant, nominated by Talbot House for continued support for many years, including helping fund Vermont Place
  • Philanthropic Society of the Year: CPS Investment Advisors, nominated by Peace River Center and United Way of Central Florida for its culture of giving encouraged by its late founder, Chas. P. Smith
  • Small Philanthropic Business of the Year: Tribute Realty, nominated by Talbot House for donating a portion of each transaction to a community organization, selecting a new nonprofit each year.
  • Spirit of philanthropy: United Way of Central Florida led by President / CEO Christina Criser Jackson, appointed by Citizens Bank & Trust for innovation to increase community impact during pandemic
  • Philanthropy Volunteer of the Year: Lt. James D. Ostojic of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, nominated by the Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center for many hours of counseling and volunteering, including raising over $ 92,000 as a competitor at the recent event Mr. Central Florida.
The winners of the National Philanthropy Day
Jordan Weiland The winners, left to right, included Michael Riskin of CPS Investment Advisors, Ashely Barnett, Wesley Barnett, Barney Barnett, Lt. James D. Ostojic of PCSO, Mindy Emerson Hunley of Tribute Realty, Mary Grant, Denis Grant and Christina Criser Jackson of the United Way of Central Florida.

After winning the award, Ashley Barnett said: “It was never about us; it has always been about those we serve; and it was also about the legacy of his family and the legacy of what was the legacy of what was instilled in me by my family and where our hearts are set. “

On receiving the Outstanding Philanthropy Award, Barney Barnett also spoke about the family. “I was lucky to come from a big family that had no money, but they were very generous people. I was lucky and married Carol and she actually has a lot of money and she also had the great inheritance left to her by [her father, Publix founder] Mr. George Jenkins who is the best person to ever come to Lakeland, Florida. I am glad that Wesley and Nicholas are also very generous people. Carol Barnett was unable to attend the ceremony.

Denis Grant, who founded Powerscreen of Florida shortly after arriving in Lakeland from Ireland in the early 1980s, spoke about Talbot House’s mission to serve the homeless and its namesake, Matt Talbot, a Dublin worker who overcame alcoholism to live a life of piety and charity.

The finalists were nominated by 16 leading community organizations and chosen by an anonymous panel of seven judges.

Finalists in all categories included:

  • Suzanne Aranda
  • Carol & Barney Barnett
  • Wesley and Ashley Barnett
  • Bartow Ford
  • Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, Pennsylvania
  • PS Investment Advisors
  • Double M Aviation, LIC
  • Denis and Marie Grant
  • Jack & Tina Harrell
  • Levi Highsmith
  • Christina criser jackson
  • Lakeland Elks Lodge # 1291
  • Beth luxford
  • MIDFLORIDA Credit Union
  • Lieutenant James D. Ostojic
  • Trista Otto
  • Qgiv
  • Timothy Rice
  • Saddle Creek Logistics Services
  • Don selvage
  • Sheltair Aviation
  • Swans brewing
  • Tribute Realty, LLC
  • Dianna Grace “Gracie” Westerfield
  • Winter Haven Dodge Chrysler Jeep


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