In the past two years, Julie (Abbott) Bennett ’03 has helped provide more than 27,300 meals to hungry local families. For that accomplishment and “her love of giving back,” Bennett was selected as one of five outstanding women to receive a Summit Award from the Central Florida Women’s Resource Center in October. Bennett founded the Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry of Montverde United Methodist Church in 2009, and her ministry has grown to supply not only food but also clothing, school supplies and uniforms, and referrals to other Lake County agencies needing assistance. In 2010 and 2011, Bennett spearheaded a partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank, becoming a USDA partner distributing foods from The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
But Bennett’s community work doesn’t stop there. She’s also a volunteer for Christians Who Care for People, a ministry for the homeless, and the band director for Heaven Bound, a praise band. On top of that, she’s a member of the Academy of Construction Technologies high school construction program, Mid-Florida Technologies Electrical Program Advisory Committee for Orange County Public Schools, the 2011 Education Committee for the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) in Central Florida, and the Greater Orlando Chapter 73 National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC).
Summit Award winners are chosen annually for having a history of diverse community service, possessing exemplary leadership abilities, performing community work, and serving as role models for other women. After nearly 30,000 meals and many years of helping others, Bennett has only future service in mind. “While I am not yet able to sponsor a scholarship for a current Holt School student, which is my dream,” she said, “I am committed to using my hands and heart to help my neighbors confidently as I continue to work toward my full potential as explored at Rollins.”
Bennett credits her own Holt School scholarship sponsors—Fugleberg Koch Architects, Margaret Ann Hadlick, and the McFeely-Rogers Foundation—for inspiring her achievements. “Their support of my educational endeavors was critically important and continues to motivate me to give back to my community in the best manner possible.”
By Renée Anduze