Butterfly garden project at Children First one of numerous undertakings in Florida Power & Light’s Power to Care Week

March 3 undertaking expected to bring 25 people to nonprofit’s main Sarasota campus

Image from the Children First website

Florida Power & Light Co.’s 14th annual Power to Care Week has included a collaborative effort with United Way Suncoast (UWS) and Children First “that will enrich the lives of Head Start students,” Children First has announced.

On March 3, the Power to Care effort was expected to bring 25 Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) “employee volunteers, friends, and family members to Children First’s main campus,” which is located at 1723 N. Orange Ave. in Sarasota, to build a butterfly garden for students, faculty, and staff to enjoy and to improve the area’s landscaping, a news release explains.

The volunteer corps was scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m. and conclude the project by noon, the release says.

Children First is the exclusive provider of Early Head Start and Head Start services for Sarasota County, offering comprehensive services at 15 different sites, the release points out.

The butterfly project will extend UWS’ work with both FPL and Children First, the release says. As a UWS partner, Children First received $165,000 in grant support from UWS’ Community Investment Fund for the 2021 fiscal year, the release adds.

“Children First enhances the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of children” through Early Start (for youngsters from birth to age 3) and Head Start (ages 3-5), “achievements that dovetail with one of UWS’ primary focuses: early learning,” the release points out.

“These investments from our community partners at United Way Suncoast and Florida Power & Light continue to make a critical impact on those we serve,” Children First CEO Philip Tavill points out in the release.

“We are deeply appreciative to be included in Power to Care Week and bring awareness to our mission of strengthening our community’s most vulnerable children and families,” Tavill added in the release.

UWS also worked with FPL in 2021 to qualify more of the company’s customers for assistance through the FPL Care to Share ® program, “which helps keep the lights on for customers experiencing a temporary financial emergency or personal crisis,” the release explains. “FPL recently adopted United Way’s ALICE assistance guidelines,” it adds, pointing out that “ALICE” refers to those in communities who are “Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed,” the release notes: “those among us who are working but are living paycheck to paycheck due to childcare costs, transportation challenges, high cost of living and more. Based on the new qualification guidelines, FPL estimated that an additional 1.1 million households qualified for the program,” the release says.

The undertaking involving Children First and UWS “represents just one of the many projects spurred by FPL’s Power to Care Week, which fuels the desire of employee volunteers to help make the communities they serve” even better places to live, work and raise a family, the release continues.

In 2021, in spite of the limitations created by the pandemic, “680 volunteers across 10 states engaged in 1,070 projects during FPL’s Power to Care Week,” the release notes. The service projects included paracord “survival” bracelet making, a letter-writing campaign for military service members and frontline workers, and litter pickup.

Founded in 1961 and ranked in the top 1% out of more than 1,800 Head Starts nationwide, “Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being,” the release points out. At 15 sites located throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children from birth to age 5 who live in low-income families. For more information, call 941-953-3877 or go to childrenfirst.net.