The Wendy's Company named 11 employees Community Ambassadors for their commitment to supporting and bettering their local communities through volunteerism. Through Wendy's Community Ambassador Grant Program, each individual will receive a $2,500 grant for an organization they support with their time and talents. One Community Ambassador of the Year is selected from this group and awarded an additional $10,000 grant for their organization. Jonathan Todd, Director of Restaurant Technology Deployment at Wendy's Restaurant Support Center, has been named Wendy's 2019 Community Ambassador of the Year for his long-term commitment to Dreams on Horseback in Gahanna, Ohio. Dreams on Horseback is dedicated to helping people with challenges and disabilities improve their lives through horse-partnered learning experiences and education.
"For more than 50 years, giving back to the communities where we operate has been an integral part of the Wendy's business and it remains one of our brand's core values," says Liliana Esposito, Wendy's Chief Communications Officer. "Wendy's Community Ambassador Grant Program aligns perfectly with our values by engaging and empowering Wendy's team members to help make our communities stronger. We're proud to recognize Jonathan Todd for his 13-year commitment to Dreams on Horseback and applaud all of our Community Ambassadors for supporting causes important to them."
Company employees—from restaurant team members, Restaurant Support Center employees, and field employees—can apply for a Community Ambassador grant. While all applicants are worthy of recognition, a committee comprised of Company officers, field employees, and previous Ambassador of the Year winners chose to honor these 11 well-deserving individuals for their local community engagement efforts:
Jonathan Todd supporting Dreams on Horseback, Gahanna, OH, (Community Ambassador of the Year): Jonathan became involved with Dreams on Horseback, whose mission is to enrich lives with horses, in 2007 when equine therapy was recommended for his daughter with special needs. With therapy, Jonathan's daughter's health improved, and she eventually joined the Special Olympics Equestrian Team and learned to ride a bike. Encouraged by her health improvements, Jonathan joined the Dreams Board of Directors in 2018 and is responsible for developing and implementing the organization's strategic plan, technology support, accounting, strategic business development, and identifying new fundraising opportunities. With this $12,500 Community Ambassador grant, Dreams on Horseback plans to build an ADA compliant restroom facility onsite to accommodate people with disabilities.
Kathy McDermott supporting Cub Scouts Pack 85, Westerville, OH: Kathy became involved with Scouts when her oldest son joined the organization as a Tiger Scout more than eight years ago. Kathy appreciates that Boy Scouts teaches her children early leadership skills, to make ethical choices, and the importance of values. To keep the Scouts engaged, Kathy plans fun activities and programs for the Pack to ensure the boys are learning through play. This grant will allow Pack 85 to purchase additional learning materials and resources.
Ryan Schalles supporting Muggsy Bogues Family Foundatio , Charlotte, NC: Ryan has supported the Muggsy Bogues Family Foundation (formerly known as Always Believe), an organization that helps at-risk teens focus on reaching their full potential by being well-rounded students and productive citizens, for more than eight years. Ryan previously won a Community Ambassador grant for the organization in 2016, and since then has become a senior board member. His support has enabled the Foundation to consistently grant two college scholarships per year, in addition to supporting afterschool and athletics-focused programs. The Muggsy Bogues Family Foundation will use this grant to continue to support its afterschool programs, including vocational and gardening initiatives.
Julia Caruso and Robin Campbell supporting Dublin Arts Council, Dublin, OH: Julia and Robin both believe in the power that art has to bring people together, break down barriers, and make a community beautiful. Julia is currently serving her second term as Citizen Representative on the Board of Directors for the Dublin Arts Council. Robin joined the organization in 2014 as a volunteer and is currently the President of the Board of Directors. With only a full-time staff of five, Julia and Robin are both proud of how well the Dublin Arts Council is able to serve the community. With this grant, the Dublin Arts Council will continue to enhance community-focused programming, which includes a multi-cultural art and wellness initiative.
Kacie Bartimus supporting Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio (SARNCO), Columbus, OH: When Kacie learned about SARNCO, whose mission is to empower sexual assault survivors and end sexual violence, she saw a clear way to support survirors while also raising awareness in the community. As a hospital advocate, Kacie serves as a support system to survivors during interviews with law enforcement and medical exams and provides resources for safety planning, legal action, and mental health services. Thanks to Kacie's support, SARNCO will use this grant to grow their program to provide comprehensive prevention strategies for schools, campuses, and the business community.
Brian Jones supporting Bridgeway Academy, Columbus, OH: Brian began supporting Bridgeway Academy, a non-profit education and therapy center serving children with autism and developmental disabilities, several years ago as a volunteer. Most recently, Brian planned and executed the Academy's first golf outing fundraiser, which raised more than $8,000 to fund scholarships for students to attend summer camp at Bridgeway. With this grant, the organization will be able to fund additional summer camp scholarships.
Taylor Ruby supporting Buddy Up Tennis, Columbus, OH: Tennis has been Taylor's passion since she was in high school, which is why she supports Buddy Up Tennis, an organization that creates a supportive community for people of all ages with Down syndrome to grow physically, socially, and emotionally through tennis and fitness. On Saturdays, Buddy Up hosts adaptive tennis clinics that pair each participant with a Buddy Up volunteer like Taylor, who provides guidance and encouragement throughout a 90-minute fitness and tennis drill session. After eight years with Buddy Up, Taylor says the organization offers a unique community-building opportunity. Since its founding in Columbus, Buddy Up has expanded to 24 other cities across the country. The Buddy Up Tennis Columbus chapter will use their Community Ambassador grant to underwrite clinic participation fees for students who otherwise wouldn't be able to participate.
Amy Woods supporting Towards Employment, Cleveland, OH: As a human resources professional, Amy was introduced to Towards Employment nearly 10 years ago through a coworker. Towards Employment provides job readiness training and supportive services to individuals facing barriers to employment, particularly those with criminal records. Amy puts her HR experience to good use by offering guidance on strategic planning and also serves on the Board of Directors, where she has served as Chair of the HR committee, Secretary and Vice President. Towards Employment will use this grant to support training and services for graduates seeking employment.
Sarah Tyler supporting Girl Scouts of Ohio's Heartland , Columbus, OH: A proud former Girl Scout herself, Sarah became involved with Girl Scouts of Ohio's Heartland when her daughter joined the organization as a Daisy. She assumed her role as troop co-leader in 2016 and still holds that role today. As a troop leader, Sarah is responsible for her training and education to meet Girl Scouts requirements, and provides the materials required for troop meetings and events. This Community Ambassador grant will help provide troop leaders and volunteers the resources they need to create a positive group experience, while also providing robust leadership programming for the Girl Scouts.
Farhina Mustafa supporting MY Project USA, Columbus, OH: Farhina became involved with MY Project USA in 2015 when she learned that sex trafficking in Central Ohio was on the rise. MY Project USA focuses on protecting and empowering at-risk youth from drugs, gangs, sex trafficking, and other harmful activities, and Farhina uses her skills as a cook to give something back. During Ramadan, Farhina cooks, packs, and distributes hundreds of meals for families in need. She also donates school supplies to the organization throughout the year. With this grant, MY Project USA will purchase food and household necessities for families in need.