Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Financial Present Club Member with College Scholarship

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Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Financial Present $220,000 in Grants & Scholarships to South Florida Nonprofits & Students

Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach; HANDY, Fort Lauderdale; Little Haiti Optimist Foundation, Miami; Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida, Fort Myers among 12 exceptional organizations across U.S. honored with Sun Life Rising Star Awards for commitment to education

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Wellesley, Mass. (October 21, 2014) – The U.S. business group of Sun Life Financial and the Miami Dolphins today announced the South Florida recipients of the Sun Life Rising Star Awards and presented $220,000 in grants and scholarships to four nonprofit community organizations and an exemplary student nominated by each nonprofit. The 2014 South Florida Sun Life Rising Star Awards recipients are:

  • Nonprofit winners: Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach; HANDY, Fort Lauderdale; Little Haiti Optimist Foundation, Miami; Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida, Fort Myers
  • Student winners: Joeniseley Mathurin, Delray Beach; Kyandra Dorestin, Plantation; Junior Appo, Miami; James Blanks, Fort Myers

Sun Life Group Market Manager John Hak and Sun Life Employee Benefits Representative Brandon Davis joined Miami Dolphins players, Dolphins cheerleaders and front office executives to surprise each winning student with a $5,000 scholarship for college, and recognize each nonprofit organization with a $50,000 grant at four awards presentations across South Florida. This year’s South Florida Sun Life Rising Star Awards recipients also will be honored at a special pre-game on-field ceremony and celebration at the Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens game at Sun Life Stadium on December 7, 2014.

The Sun Life Rising Star Awards program is dedicated to improving educational opportunities for students and education-based nonprofit organizations that support them in our nation’s under-served metropolitan areas. Now in its fifth year, Sun Life recognizes the remarkable achievements of all Sun Life Rising Star Award recipients, and celebrates these exceptional students and organizations for their continued dedication to education.

This year, Sun Life will provide $660,000 in grants, scholarships and other resources to outstanding organizations and students in Boston, Nashville, San Francisco, South Florida and the Tulsa/Oklahoma City area. By the end of 2014, Sun Life Financial will have committed nearly $5 million to 86 students and 79 nonprofit organizations in 16 different cities across the country. Sun Life has committed $1.1 million in South Florida to local education-based nonprofit organizations and under-served area students.

“We’re committed to investing in the health of our communities through initiatives like our Sun Life Rising Star Awards program,” said Dan Fishbein, President, Sun Life Financial U.S. “Today’s student scholarship recipients have overcome great obstacles to achieve success. These remarkable individuals and the nonprofit organizations that comprise this year’s class of Sun Life Rising Star Award recipients inspire us all and we look forward to seeing the positive impact that the collective efforts of all our Rising Star recipients will have on their local communities and beyond.”

Sun Life also invites Rising Star recipients to apply for summer internship opportunities at its U.S. headquarters in Wellesley, Massachusetts following their freshman year of college. The goal is to provide a substantial, meaningful work experience that lays the foundation for future professional success.

“We are honored to join Sun Life for the fifth year to recognize the efforts being made to better serve the lives of under-served youth in South Florida. These exceptional students and community organizations are transforming education in the region, and we are thrilled to be part of it,” said Miami Dolphins President & CEO Tom Garfinkel.

Judging panels comprised of government officials, community, education and business leaders evaluate the applications and student nominations in South Florida based on the following criteria:

  • Nonprofit’s commitment to developing and promoting skills that directly translate to educational engagement and matriculation rates for secondary school youth under the age of 21.
  • Nonprofit’s demonstrated partnership with a secondary or post-secondary educational institution.
  • Nonprofit’s documented ability to respond to the needs of specific groups of youth in a manner yielding measurable results.
  • Student nominee’s plan to pursue a post-secondary education, leadership qualities, commitment to his or her community and a 750-word essay.

This year’s panel included:

  • Shannon Alfonso, President of Florida Region Marsh & McLennan Agency
  • Maureen Capp, Director of Resource and Grant Development at Palm Beach State College
  • James Champion, President at Champion Services Group
  • Mary Chance, Executive Director of Consortium of Florida Education Foundations
  • Steve Jarvis, Vice President at Gravity Benefits
  • Debra Lage, Senior Associate at Mercer
  • Mike Meredith, Executive Vice President at Willis
  • Matt Moraski, Owner of Gravity Benefits
  • Jamar Taylor, Cornerback, Miami Dolphins
  • Dr. Wallis Tinnie, Department of Human Resources for the City of Miami
  • Stacy Ostrau, Society Scene Publisher at Sun Sentinel
  • Andy Zerbock, Vice President of USI Insurance

Sun Life leverages its partnerships with organizations such as the Boston Celtics and the Miami Dolphins to enhance the student experience, promote healthy lifestyles and leverage powerful role models to reinforce the connection between education, health and financial well-being.

South Florida’s 2014 Sun Life Rising Star Award winners are:

Palm Beach County

Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, Inc. – awarded $50,000 – Founded in 1969, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, Inc. is a nonprofit youth development organization dedicated to promoting the educational, vocational, health, leadership and character of youth in a safe, nurturing environment. The organization strives to enable and assist all young people, especially those who need them most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

Student Recipient: Joeniseley Mathurin, Atlantic High School – awarded $5,000

Joeniseley Mathurin works and volunteers at the local school and in her community. She also takes part in extracurricular activities, and participates on the cheerleading team, as well as mentoring younger Boys & Girls’ club members.

Broward County

HANDY – Helping Abused Neglected Disadvantaged Youth, HANDY’s mission is to embrace, educate, and empower vulnerable youth to become engaged, productive adults. HANDY has met the needs of almost 50,000 Broward County children and youth in foster and relative/non-relative care under protective supervision.

Student Recipient: Kyandra Dorestin, Plantation High School

Kyandra Dorestin often speaks at community engagement events and activities as an advocate for foster care and dependency care youth. In addition to her involvement with HANDY, she is a member of Broward County’s Florida Youth Shine Chapter and is actively involved in extracurricular activities such as the dance team, and participates in regular park and beach clean-ups and donation drives.

Miami/Miami-Dade County

Little Haiti Optimist Foundation–Little Haiti Optimist Club is a nonprofit organization established in 2010 by a group of business professionals, community and civic leaders to provide programs to the youth of Little Haiti. Their mission is to make a difference in the lives of youth by providing education, mentorship, athletics, arts and cultural programming.

Student Recipient: Junior Appo, Miami Edison Senior High School

Junior Appo is a member of his high school band and plays three musical instruments. He also serves as treasurer on the student government council, and works as a teller and concierge at the school’s credit union. He was recently awarded a trophy, honoring him as the top concierge in the student finance department.

Lee County

Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida – Quality Life Center (the Q) has served more than 15,000 youth and families in the community. Its mission is to strengthen and instill pride in family and community through programs and services to cultivate self-discipline, self-development, build confidence and promote cultural awareness.

Student Recipient: James Blanks, City of Palms Charter High School

James Blanks serves as President of Quality Life Center’s teen program. He instructs and tutors younger students in the program and participates in its community service projects. James also stays active in extracurricular activities by playing football at his high school, and serving as president of the Kappa League.

For more information on the Sun Life Rising Star Awards, please visit

About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. The Sun Life Financial group of companies operates under the “Sun Life Financial” name strictly as a marketing name and no legal significance is expressed or implied. Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Bermuda. In the United States and elsewhere, insurance products are offered by members of the Sun Life Financial group that are insurance companies. In the United States, Sun Life Financial provides a range of products and services to employers and their employees, including Group and Voluntary Accident, Critical Illness, Dental, Disability, Life, and Stop-Loss Insurance Products. Sun Life Financial Inc., the holding company for the Sun Life Financial group of companies, is a public company. It is not an insurance company and does not offer insurance products for sale in the United States or elsewhere, and does not guarantee the obligations of its insurance company subsidiaries. Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE), and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF. For more information, please visit

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