Dyer Difference Award Honors Heroes

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” These words from famed American literature professor Joseph Campbell ring one hundred percent true for the American Gold Star Mothers of Indian River County, Inc., recipients of the October Dyer Difference Award in Indian River County. The group of mothers whose children have died will in the military service, as a result of that service, or who are still missing in action,  strive to keep the memory of their sons and daughters alive by working to help veterans, those currently serving in the military and their families and communities. Their efforts help support and assist a number of efforts in Indian River County and impact 14,000 veterans and their families.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way the group is presenting its annual Walk-a-Thon for Military Suicide Awareness, this year’s “Do 22 and Challenge and Virtual Walk” could help raise awareness and assist even more veterans than ever before. From November 1st through November 14th, individuals can participate and help the American Gold Star Mothers of Indian River County, Inc., benefit Dogs for Life, which trains service dogs for veterans, Next Generation Veterans of Indian River County, and the Mental Health Association of Indian River County. The October Dyer Difference Award recognizes and honors the new organization and its efforts.

Left to Right: Marc Gingras (President), Jonathan Hardie, Tatiana Dyer, and Jo-Ann Webster (Director)

NOVEMBER


LOVE TO SERVE

                                                   Dyer Difference Award Honors Service


Service is also on the hearts of individuals in Indian River, where Love to Serve, Inc., was honored with the November Dyer Difference Award. The organization serves the community by filling in the gaps with love, providing food, assistance, and much more to individuals of all ages who are in need in Indian River County. Love to Serve, Inc., works in collaboration with other nonprofit organizations to help act as a bridge and fill in the gaps that often occur in service and support for those in crisis. Additionally, the organization provides a monthly food distribution and is preparing a Thanksgiving meal open to all and food boxes for families in need during the holiday season. November is typically the month when we count our blessings, and the Dyer Difference Award Committee in Indian River County chose to also recognize as a blessing those whose mission it is to help serve and provide for others, recognizing Love to Serve, Inc., for its dedication and commitment to serving individuals in need right here in our community.

L TO R: Sheriff-Elect Eric Flowers, Deputy Jessica Ogonoski, Jonathan Hardie, Tatiana Dyer  & Major Milo Thornton

United Against Poverty of Indian River County 



The July Dyer Difference Award recognizes The United Against Poverty work in the community, thousands of families in our community have been negatively impacted by the virus. Those already struggling to make ends meet were put in an even more precarious position, and many lost their livelihood and way of providing food for their families. United Against Poverty (UAP) is an organization created in 2003 to help provide a hand up instead of a handout to those in need. Its small co-op stores in Indian River County gives families a way to select and purchase groceries for their families, allowing them to maintain dignity in difficult times. One of UAP’s biggest fundraisers is the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, a fun, family-oriented event which helps to provide much-needed funds to keep the organization going. The July Dyer Difference Award honors the staff and volunteers at UAP and helps to kick off the fundraising for this year’s Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.



DECEMBER

SEPTEMBER

Laura LaPorte, Robyn Ammons, Jonathan Hardie and Frank Felkey

IRC SHERIFF'S OFFICE

The Shrimp Fest & Craft Brew Hullabaloo


The Rotary Club of Sebastian, which provides business, community, and professional leaders and opportunity to serve others to benefit the community and promote high standards, is the recipient of the Dyer Difference Award for January in Indian River County. The annual ShrimpFest & Craft Brew Hullabaloo held at Riverview Park in Sebastian is a crowd favorite, attracting more than 30,000 people annually and helping to raise more than $50,000 annually to benefit over 1,700 families through local community projects. This year’s ShrimpFest, slated for March 20 through 22nd, features free entrance, parking and shuttle services, plus live music, food, drinks, and, of course, shrimp.  The ShrimpFest & Craft Brew Hullabaloo is a joint effort of the Rotary Club of Sebastian and the Fellsmere Exchange Club and is sponsored by the City of Sebastian. Net proceeds raised from the ShrimpFest & Craft Brew Hullabaloo will benefit local youth sports teams, youth clubs and participating non-profit organizations throughout North Indian River County.

JUNE

                                       Shop with a Copy Receives Dyer Difference Award

If you ask nearly every law enforcement officer in St. Lucie and Indian River County what one of the favorite parts of their job is, you’re likely to get the same answer – Shop with a Cop. Every December, School Resource Officers and deputies from the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office accompany area children on the shopping trip of a lifetime as part of the Shop with a Cop program.

Though all of the children selected to participate come from families who are struggling and who might not be able to provide them with a gift to open on Christmas morning, one of the things the deputies involved in the Shop with a Cop program mention every year is that, instead of rushing to grab their favorite toys or video games with the gift cards they’re given to use for their purchases, nearly every child first looks for a gift for a sibling or parent. Because of this, deputies walk away from the Shop with a Cop holiday gifting experience with misty eyes and a renewed sense of motivation to protect the community and help positively impact and guide its youngest members. The memorable and special experience shared by the children and the deputies is something neither soon forgets, and it has helped forge stronger bonds of trust between the youth and law enforcement. Recognizing the importance of this kind of interaction, the Dyer Difference Award Committee selected the Shop with a Cop program in both St. Lucie and Indian River

Counties.











Left to Right General Manager Jonathan Hardie, Van DeMars, Baby Girl Horse Rescue & Veteran Therapy Director, Angla Moabed, Tatiana & Will Dyer

January 

Hibiscus Festival 


The Dyer Difference Award goes to Main Street Vero Beach, which presents and promotes the Hibiscus Festival. Another famous feature of the Treasure Coast is the breathtakingly beautiful hibiscus. The colorful, tropical blossoms are as useful as they are beautiful, with their teas and extracts creating a sweet and tart taste and offering medicinal benefits. The flowering plant is such an important part of the very history of Vero Beach that an annual Hibiscus Festival is held, featuring a weekend of music and fun activities celebrating all things hibiscus. There’s even a Miss Hibiscus Pageant which helps kick of the annual festival and helps spotlight this history and importance of the beautiful and vital plant in the Vero Beach community. To help ensure that the festival and the flower both continue to thrive in Vero Beach and Indian River County.

May

 Left to Right: John Dyer, Will & Tatiana Dyer, Jonathan Hardie, Hibiscus Festival Executive Director Susan Gromis and Vice-President Janie Hoover

               Heritage and Families Celebrated with Dyer Difference Award

One of the most terrific things about living in Vero Beach is the strong and constant reminder of the rich heritage of the community. Even the center of town is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history of Vero Beach, with the Indian River Citrus Museum and the Vero Heritage Center holding a place of honor in the center of town since 1935. For the past 21 years, members of the community have gathered to celebrate the Annual Pioneer Heritage Dinner, honoring families with roots in Indian River County prior to 1925, when Indian River and St. Lucie Counties became separate entities. To help ensure that the 21st Annual Pioneer Heritage Dinner, slated for Saturday, July 11th, honors the historic spirit of the community, 

March 

Doug Chase, John Dyer, Jonathan Hardie, Heather Stapleton – Heritage Center Executive Director, and Brian Holmes – Heritage Center Executive Board President

In Indian River County, the Dyer Difference Award Committee chose to get physical as part of the decision-making process. In addition to recognizing the Veterans Council of Indian River County with this month’s Dyer Difference Award, all of the employees at Dyer Chevrolet, Mazda, and Subaru in Vero Beach have been doing 22 pushups for the past 22 days. The number of pushups is symbolic of the claim that every day, at least 22 veterans die by suicide. The Veterans Service Council of Indian River County, a collaboration of 25 veteran organizations, and over 45 non-veteran entities, provides support for Indian River County veterans and their families. While there is always a need to support veterans, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the veteran population exceptionally hard, causing physical and emotional problems, housing, unemployment and transportation issues that can overwhelm even the bravest among us. The staff at Dyer Chevrolet, Mazda and Subaru in Vero Beach are showing strength, solidarity, and support through this month’s award and by hitting the ground and honoring the veterans each day who served our country and are deserving of our gratitude.

OCTOBER

Youth Guidance


According to Mentoring.org, 76 percent of at-risk youth who are mentored aspire to enroll in and graduate from college because they’ve had positive influence from a caring adult who is not a family member. Knowing the importance of this positive role-modeling and guidance, the organization Youth Guidance has been working with children from low-income, single parent homes with the goal of helping them build a path out of poverty. Since 1973, Youth Guidance has been working with approximately 150 children per week, providing activities, role-modeling, and building trusting, lasting relationships between volunteer mentors and children. To help fund this program, Youth Guidance presents Vero’s “best party of the year,” an annual Tropical Night Luau, which will be held Saturday, June 20th at Oak Harbor Club in Vero Beach. The Dyer Difference Selection Committee chose to award the March Dyer Difference Award to support the Youth Guidance program’s mission of helping to serve children in Indian River County.


Indian River County Award Recipients 2020

JULY

 Left to Right: Jonathan Hardie, Tatiana Dyer and Phil Barnes

. 

Left to right: Renee Birely (Program Development & Relationship Manager), Tatiana Dyer, Jonathan Hardie

Baby Girl Horse Rescue & Veteran Therapy Ranch


What if you could help resolve two difficult and tragic issues impacting the community with one simple and beautiful way to connect both?

That’s the premise behind Baby Girl Horse Rescue and Veteran Therapy Ranch in Indian River County, the recipient of the June Dyer Difference Award. In addition to rescuing neglected, homeless and abandoned horses, cows, donkeys, pigs, chickens, etc., Baby Girl Horse Rescue pairs those rescued animals with veterans who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). The volunteers at Baby Girl Horse Rescue and Veteran Therapy serve over 300 veterans and their families in Indian River County, and they’ve found that the connection between animals and humans in need is powerful and therapeutic for both.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, calls for both animals in need of rescue and veterans in need of assistance have grown exponentially, so the Dyer Difference Award Committee elected to recognize the organization with the June Dyer Difference Award and a check for $3,000 to assist with providing food and medical care for the therapy animals who live (and work) at the ranch.


L to R: General Manager Jonathan Hardie, Tatiana Dyer, American Gold Star Mothers of IRC President Michelle Dale, Diana D’Angelo 

April 

La Porte Farms


LaPorte Farms, a five-acre petting farm located in Sebastian and open to the public since 1994. In addition to inviting the public to share the beauty of nature and animals and providing a fun and educational, hands-on and accessible opportunity for 20,000 visitors per year, for the past five years, LaPorte Farms has hosted a Back to School Family Fun Day. This family-oriented event features finger painting, face painting, pony rides, hayrides, a corn bin, prizes, and bookbag giveaways and is always a big hit with children and grown-ups alike. This year’s Family Fun Day will be held Saturday, July 25th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is proudly being supported by the June Dyer Difference Award.

                                                    The Samaritan Center

It is often said that the majority of American citizens are only two missed paychecks away from homelessness, and in these trying times since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many families are struggling far more than they were just a year ago. While homelessness may be the most critical issue, often the families also experience additional financial, emotional, social, interpersonal, medical, and legal difficulties, too. In the best of times, this can simply seem overwhelming, but add all the troubles caused since the coronavirus pandemic, and the need for immediate, caring, and proactive assistance increases exponentially.

Since 1992, The Samaritan Center has been providing transitional housing to over 650 homeless families in Indian River County. Their attention to all the details which can help turn around a negative situation include mental health and medial referrals, life-skills development workshops, financial and domestic skills training, advocacy, and a ray of hope were all reasons why the Samaritan Center was chosen to be recognized with a Dyer Difference Award in Indian River County. The $3,000 Dyer Difference Award will be matched by an equal donation from the Egan Foundation to help ensure that the 14th Annual Bernard and Betty Egan Memorial Golf Classic slated for Monday, September 28th, will be a resounding success.



Left to Right - Will & Tatiana Dyer and General Manager Jonathan Hardie present the July Dyer Difference Award to United Against Poverty Executive Director Annabel Robertson and Development Manager Phillip Keeling

AUGUST

 Empowering our communities, accelerating the future. 

LEFT TO RIGHT: Jonathan Hardie, Amanda Hackford, John Dyer, Will,  & Tatiana Dyer

February