Generation WORKS: From Vision to Reality

From vision to reality, from the hope of smiling faces, to the warm hugs of young kids and from the wee hours of morning terror to the most unbelievably satisfying feeling that transformation can deliver. That is GENERATION WORKS. Early on, with the shared dreams of making a difference behind the leadership of WOMEN WIELDING WEAPONS OF MASS CONSTRUCTION, Deutsche Bank, Stein Mart, Florida Blue, Wells Fargo, CIT as well as a legion of supporters such as Interline Brands, Home Depot, Firehouse Subs, Fresh Market, and Costco all raised their hands to be on the team.

It was months and months of preparation, filled with all that you encounter when you are creating something from a hope and a dream. There are always tons of questions and logistics and for some, doubts, but not for our team. With a bright and steady view on a successful outcome whose sole focus became the bringing together of warm hands and warmer hearts in a collective of giving and sharing on behalf of dedicated agencies who are committed everyday to making people’s lives better. It was truly an honor to partner with them. Talk about validating work!

I am always amazed when people show up. Yes, yes,  I know they signed up, but even so. When you sleep with just the dream and a page of notes by your bed, to actually see people who are willing to give of their time especially on an early and chilly Saturday morning, grateful is one word that comes to mind. The launch at Unity Plaza, whose name was representative of what I think we were all feeling,  as our honorary co-chairs all spoke so beautifully about the importance of community and of women and of leadership. Clearly, communities are enriched beyond measure when they recognize and access all of its talents and GENERATION WORKS was about putting a spotlight on the many talents that women bring to the leadership of Jacksonville.

School BeforeSchool After

I donned my gloves…I really love my gloves, thanks to Deutsche Bank and Leslie Slover… and off I went with the goal to visit as many sites as possible. I felt like I was on a philanthropic tour of Jacksonville. So much good work being done, and as you can see, the depth and breadth of projects and the range of people being helped was substantial. Seeing all the women painting the hallways at the Hubbard House was a vivid moment as Kristi Brandon was moved to tears. Bingo at the Sulzbacher center was a full house as the Bennett family were joined by others to call the numbers and give out prizes. CEO Cindy Funkhauser was on hand, and I will be going back to learn more about this amazing facility. From Dignity U Wear to where Kelly Madden and Santhea Brown were folding clothes, to Rethreaded where a group was helping to prepare for their beautiful Valentine celebration, to Habijax, way to go to Geri Cirillo, Melissa Ross and the WJCT crew who were laying sod by the time I got there. Someone will have a beautiful new home thanks to your efforts. Reports from Angelwood where Drake Hoy and his crack landscape crew were joined by others who were painting and clearly delivering more than mulch, they were delivering joy. Four thousand pounds of food sorted at Feeding Northeast Florida, and trash and clean up was happening at the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation as well as at the City Rescue Mission.

Outdoor BeforeOutdoor After


Garden BeforeGarden After

The schools that we were able to work with thanks to the dedicated assistance of Pam Paul and JPEF in addition to the energized leadership of Marissa Henderson on behalf of the DCPS, were amazing. Deutsche Bank and their employees doubled down on education where courtyards were transformed, picnic tables built and painted. A science lab is now like none you have ever seen, a welcomed and encouraging environment of pink and green for the young scientists at the Butler Leadership Academy for Girls. Joined by students and their families, principals were on site as the joyful labor moved forward making the experience incredibly personal. Do you see the before and after…. delightful right?

Science Lab BeforeScience Lab After



The next day reports of surprise, delight, joy and gratitude were all we could all have hoped for. Women and girls leadership, led the way and will continue to do so, thanks to everyone.

A special thanks to Kasia Sweirczynska, Katherine Callaway and Pixie Larizza who day in and day out made miracles happen. GENERATION WORKS, women wielding weapons of mass construction, was all about what Honorary Co-Chair Rachel Vitti so elegantly expressed – it was teamwork making the dreams work. A special thanks to Leslie and her dream team of Lulu and Kris and the entire executive committee, Paula Liang, Kate Nesselt, Coretta Hill, Erica La Spada, Sarah Hande, Trish Philbin, Sheila Spivey, and Robin Warren.

Thanks to all…


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