Coral Springs and Parkland Residents Named Nonprofit Hidden Heroes

Community Foundation of Broward is honoring a resident of Coral Springs and a resident of Parkland as “Nonprofit Hidden Heroes.”  The winners were selected for helping their nonprofits to continue to provide valuable services to their clients and the community during the pandemic.

Tina Cortez, who lives in Coral Springs, was

named one of Broward’s Nonprofit Hidden Heroes for her work as Director of the Wildlife Hospital at the Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital, which is also in Coral Springs.

“Tina’s dedication to the animals is evident by the exceptional wildlife care and rehabilitation she provides,” said Robin Reccasina, CEO of Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital.  “Tina designed a contactless drop off for the public to drop off injured animals at our gate and responded to every drop off herself.  Having no volunteers, she quickly cross-trained other staff to  assist in animal care.  She transferred many of the animals that were most critical and had the most demanding needs to her  home so she could give them 24-hour care.”

Samantha “Sam” Kelly, who lives in Parkland, was honored for her work as Vice President of Rehabilitation Programs at Lighthouse of Broward for the Blind & Visually Impaired in Fort Lauderdale.

“Sam provided vision and leadership,” said Ellyn Drotzer, CEO of Lighthouse of Broward for the Blind & Visually Impaired.  “We knew we had to pivot to an online platform, but our clients’ fundamental lack of sight made this seem almost impossible.  Sam led the creative plan to provide uninterrupted rehabilitative services.  We closed the building on Friday and by Monday, all of our programming was transformed into an electronic format and services were constructed using a web-based platform.”

Cortez and Kelly and their organizations are featured in a virtual awards presentation video via YouTube at 


Other Broward Nonprofit Hidden Heroes are:

–Timothy Curtin, Executive Director of Community Services, Memorial Healthcare System, Hollywood

–Rebecca “Becky” Gould, STEM Center for Education and Career Development Manager, Museum of Discovery & Science, Fort Lauderdale

–Tammy Holder, Teaching Artist-in-Residence, Broward Performing Arts Foundation, Fort Lauderdale

–Xenia McFarling, Vice President of Rehabilitation Programs, LifeNet4Families, Fort Lauderdale

–Natasha McFarquhar, Emergency Basic Needs Navigator, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Broward County, Lauderhill

–Alex Nesar, Director of Construction, Habitat for Humanity of Broward, Fort Lauderdale

–Belinda Paulicin, Director of Program Services, Gilda’s Club of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale

–Sandra Powell, Regional Laboratory Manager, Broward Health, Fort Lauderdale

–Patricia “Pejay” Ryan, Director of Marketing, Broward Education Foundation, Fort Lauderdale

–Elise Samet, Volunteer Program Manager, Canine Assisted Therapy, Oakland Park


Each of the winners receives a $500 award and a prize package that includes a 2-night staycation at the Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel and gift certificates from multiple restaurants.  In addition, each of their nonprofit organizations receives a monetary award of up to $25,000 and a VIP seat in the Community Foundation’s upcoming Resilience and Recovery program to improve nonprofit crisis preparedness.


Community Foundation of Broward hosted a blue-ribbon judging panel of community leaders to select winners based on the following:

–Took on extra work or tasks outside their usual job description

–Were bold, innovative and adaptive

–Solved problems to the benefit of the organization and/or clients and community

–Created a new system that will continue to be utilized


“The hidden heroes that live among us are serving our community every day in our nonprofits here in Broward County and they’ve really helped us get through COVID-19,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson.  “These are some amazing stories of courage, care, compassion and love.”


For more information, visit


About Community Foundation of Broward:

Founded in 1984, Community Foundation of Broward (CFB) helps families, individuals, and corporations create personalized charitable Funds that deliver game-changing philanthropic impact.  479 charitable Funds represent more than $209 million in assets, distributing $131 million in grants over the past 36 years.  CFB provides bold leadership on community solutions and fosters philanthropy that connects people who care with causes that matter – which empowers visionaries, innovators and doers to create the change they want to see in the community – and BE BOLD.

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