SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Goodwill Manasota’s director of the Veterans Services Program, C.J. Bannister, was named the John H. McLain 2015 Woman Veteran of the Year by the Sarasota County Veterans Commission. Bannister, who is a veteran of the Unites States Air Force, was hired in September of 2014 by Goodwill to lead its efforts on behalf of area veterans.
Since beginning her tenure at Goodwill, Bannister has overseen the organization’s efforts to provide services to returning veterans, who face heightened risks of unemployment, personal problems and homelessness. The Veterans Services Program helps eliminate barriers to employment and provides opportunities for higher-paying positions for veterans and their families, as well as connects veterans with crucial social services and support to help them re-integrate into their families, communities and jobs.
Prior to working at Goodwill, Bannister served as a Goodwill Ambassador, a community volunteer who supports the work of the nonprofit organization, and also served on its Board of Directors. She serves on Goodwill’s Veteran’s Task Force and assists numerous veterans’ organizations throughout the community. She is dedicated to helping others and passionate about giving back, especially to our nation’s veterans.
The Sarasota County Veterans Commission accepts nominations for the John H. McLain Veteran and Woman Veteran of the Year Awards from July 1 through October 15 annually. Recipients of these prestigious awards are selected based upon their service to other veterans, active military and their families, patriotic endeavors, educating the community about veterans’ historic impact on democracy throughout the world, and other community service engagements. This is the highest honor that the Commission bestows annually upon veterans.
“C.J. Bannister is a great example of a veteran who has taken every opportunity to positively benefit her community through her personal and career involvements. We are so proud of her for earning this great honor,” said Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota. “The brave men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and their families make enormous sacrifices, both during and after their service to our nation. Goodwill works every day to honor our returning heroes through the Veterans Services Program and C.J. has shown herself to be wholeheartedly committed to this effort.”
“Women veterans from all walks of life have served this country during war and peacetime,” says Ted Smith, president of the Sarasota County Veterans Commission and chair of this year’s Veteran of the Year Selection Committee. “As an eight-year veteran of the United States Air Force, C.J. brings experience, passion and dedication for veterans, their families and active military. As the John H. McLain Woman Veteran of the Year for 2015-2016, no one will wear this honor with more pride and compassion for veterans.”
The Commission announced the names of the 2015-2016 honorees and presented the awards during a presentation at JD Hamel Park, after the Sarasota Veterans Day Parade. The Veteran of the Year honors went to Andy Hooker, past president of the Veterans Commission, who is well-known locally for his leadership on veterans’ issues.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2014, Goodwill Manasota served more than 16,000 people, placed 680 people in jobs and assisted 520 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $81.3 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted 39 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota in essence belongs to this community, and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.