LAKE CITY, Fla., October 20, 2020 – First Federal Bank was recently named on Newsweek’s America’s Best Banks 2021 as the Best Small Bank in Florida. This distinction is the result of Newsweek’s assessment of 2,500 FDIC-insured banks, measuring 55 different factors ranging from banking accounts and customer service, to financial reports from the FDIC.
“We are honored by this recognition, which emphasizes First Federal’s commitment to being a financially sound, community bank,” says FFB President and CEO John Medina. “Because we are a mutual savings bank, Newsweek acknowledged our ability to be more responsive to local customer needs. This accolade demonstrates that even through challenging times we remain committed to our purpose of providing stability to our employees, customers, and communities.”
Recognizing the pandemic has altered the way individuals function on a daily basis, including the way Americans bank, Newsweek compiled a list of the best-in-class banking institutions. Newsweek partnered with Lending Tree to rank 2,500 FDIC-insured financial institutions based on a wide variety of fees, interest rates, account terms and conditions, digital services, customer service features, and bank profile. To read the complete article, go to www.newsweek.com/americas-best-banks-2021/best-small-banks-state.
About First Federal Bank
First Federal Bank is a community-based mutual savings bank offering consumer and commercial banking solutions, services, and loans through banking offices in Florida’s Panhandle, North Central and East Florida, and coastal South Carolina. Mortgage, SBA and USDA customers are served through lending offices across the Southeast and Midwest. First Federal is headquartered in Lake City, Florida with assets totaling over $3 billion. First Federal has received a “5-Star, Superior” financial rating from BauerFinancial, Inc., of Coral Gables, Fla. for more than two decades. For more information, visit www.ffbf.com.
Fernandina Beach High School Senior, Reggina Alexander, has been awarded the Tipping the Scale Scholarship by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County Foundation. This award is in recognition of her hard work and successful completion of her internship with Baptist Nassau.
A Boys & Girls Club member since she was 6 years old, Reggina has enjoyed coming to Boys & Girls Clubs for over 12 years and considers the other Club members and staff her “second family” she visits after school. She was involved with a lot of other offerings including flag football and dance groups, but when she became a teenager, she joined the Tipping the Scale program. This internship program, in conjunction with Baptist Health, offers teens a mentor in the hospital and a stipend for their work. Upon completion of the program, students are then able to apply for the scholarship in their senior year.
“The advice I would give to other teens considering this program is don’t miss out! This was a very big life-changing decision where I got advice as well as new ideas on life, had fun, and got to be involved with my mentors at the hospital.”
In addition to her hard work which earned her this award, Reggina is the current Fernandina Beach High School record holder in the 100-meter dash, and was involved in the AVID (advancement via individual determination) program. Reggina is headed to Tallahassee Community College where she will major in Psychology in Science. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County wish Reggina the best and know she encourage and inspire other young members to join the Tipping the Scale program.
For more information on Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County please visit bgcnassau.org.
VIRTUAL CELEBRATION HONORING FLORIDA ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDS
Keep Florida Beautiful Hosts Virtual Ceremony
A virtual experience celebrating businesses and organizations for their efforts to keep Florida clean, green and beautiful! Keep Florida Beautiful (KFB) recently held its annual Awards Recognition Ceremony to honor its top affiliates and community partners for their environmental efforts. The award winners were instrumental in organizing cleanup events, increasing recycling efforts and hosting beautification projects.
“Like many nonprofits, we have had to think outside of the box because of the pandemic. We are proud of our first-ever virtual awards ceremony. It was an opportunity to recognize affiliates and volunteers across the state. KFB Affiliate leaders found creative ways to keep people engaged in safely picking up litter in communities and along our beaches. Our goal is to keep Florida in a continuous state of eco-improvement. We also work to increase recycling, reduce waste and encourage sustainable practices,” said Elizabeth DeWitt, Keep Florida Beautiful board chair and Florida Beverage Association president.
KFB staff members presented awards in 10 categories. They named TECO Energy Outstanding Business for its effort to help the Tampa Bay community remove 120,000 pounds of invasive plants and clean up 25,000 pounds of litter and debris.
Engaging youth was also a key component of the celebration. KFB gave an award to Danielle Hightower, a Port St. Lucie student, for her leadership in promoting behavior change in litter prevention, recycling and beautification. She recruited her peers to participate in an Adopt-A-Street program and served as a mentor, encouraging others to beautify and keep the community clean.
Keep Florida Beautiful is a state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. It consists of over 40 affiliates from the Panhandle to the Keys that engage with more than 200,000 volunteers. The volunteers work to remove litter from Florida roads and waterways as well as participate in beautification programs and encourage recycling. KFB receives funding from the Florida Department of Transportation’s DRIVE IT HOME – Keep Our Paradise Litter Free Campaign to complete successful events across the state.
2020 Keep Florida Beautiful Award Winners
Outstanding Business - TECO Energy
Outstanding Great American Cleanup, Drive It Home “Trash-Off” - Keep Nassau Beautiful
Outstanding Education Involvement - Keep Charlotte Beautiful
Outstanding Youth Champion - Danielle Hightower
Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer/Agency - Highlands County Code Enforcement
Outstanding Recycling Effort - Keep Sarasota County Beautiful
Outstanding Communication Outreach - Keep Pensacola Beautiful
Adopt-A-Waterway Recognition - Keep Pinellas Beautiful
Adopt-A-Highway Recognition - Keep Panama City Beach Beautiful
Creative Community Partner - The Repurpose Project
Duncan one of 42 nationwide selected to participate
Regina Duncan, Nassau County Chamber of Commerce President, has been selected by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) to study economic recovery and resilience strategies with 41 other chamber of commerce professionals from communities throughout the United States.
The Fellowship for Economic Recovery is an immersive executive development program that provides chamber of commerce professionals with education and tools to improve the post-COVID-19 pandemic outcomes in the communities they serve.
Throughout the year-long Fellowship for Economic Recovery, participants focus on addressing different aspects of economic recovery from education and talent to economic development to entrepreneurship. The curriculum will focus on strategies for building more equitable economic outcomes and creating economies that work for everyone.
“We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response to this executive leadership training initiative and the high caliber of applicants,” said ACCE President Sheree Ann Kelly. Speaking on the need for businesses to engage in economic recovery activities, Kelly says her organization assists its members through various learning opportunities and best practice sharing. “This latest step in our strategy to engage business leaders and advocates in shaping recovery efforts, building resilient local economies and creating opportunities for everyone in the community to thrive.”
ACCE’s Fellowship for Economic Recovery is designed to help chambers refine their economic recovery goals and ultimately help the business associations nationwide build replicable programs and processes. Leaders selected to participate in the Fellowship represent urban and rural communities from 24 states.
Yulee High School Seniors, and twins, Xarah and Xanah Sproul have been awarded the Tipping the Scale Scholarship by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County Foundation. This award is in recognition of their hard work and successful completion of their internships with Baptist Nassau.
Boys & Girls Club members since they moved here from Chicago six years ago, both girls joined the Tipping the Scale program when they saw other teens in the program getting to go off campus and work at the hospital. They applied, interviewed, and were accepted to the program where they and other teens began internships covering a variety of professional health areas including nursing, accounting, telecommunications, radiology, health information, and physical therapy. The teens are provided with a mentor in the hospital and are paid a stipend for their work. Upon completion of the program, students are able to apply for the scholarship in their senior year.
“My favorite part about working at the hospital for the summer internship was feeling grown up. It was my first job and it was just cool to have a 9-to-5 job!” said Xarah. “The connections and bonds I was able to make at Baptist Health…helped me realize what I really wanted to do going forward in life,” added Xanah.
In addition to their hard work in this program, both young women were members of the Yulee High School Marching Band, National Honors Society, and BETA Club, as well as many other extracurricular activities. Xarah and Xanah truly exhibit the goal of Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau to help deserving students achieve their dreams. Both of the Sprouls are headed to Saint Leo University where they intend to do their pre-med studies in Medical Humanities.
For more information on Boys & Girls Clubs of Nassau County please visit bgcnassau.org.
Meridian Waste, an integrated, non-hazardous solid waste services company, has been voted the Nassau County Record’s Best Trash Company 2020.
“We have a hardworking team and couldn’t be happier to be recognized as the Best Trash Company in Nassau County,” said Meridian Waste Florida District Manager Dave Shepler. “We do our best daily to keep the environment clean and green and play a large role in ensuring public health and safety. Thanks to the Nassau County Record readers for recognizing our contributions to the Nassau community in which we serve.”
Meridian Waste Florida brings together a team of experts who have been in the environmental services industry between 20-30 years. The full Meridian Waste Florida team is 25 employees lead by:
Meridian Waste Florida provides municipal and open-subscription residential solid waste collection, commercial solid waste collection, recycling, yard waste, bulk waste, and roll-off container rental services. Currently, the Company serves Nassau County and surrounding areas including Yulee, Hilliard, Callahan, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, and Duval and St. Johns Counties (commercial only). For more information on available services, please visit https://www.meridianwaste.com/find-a-facility/.
The Company will be helping out with the Nassau County Household Hazardous Waste Collection and Food Drive event being held in Yulee on August 15, 2020.
Baptist Medical Center Nassau nationally recognized with ‘A’ rating for dedication to patient safety
Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade ranks Baptist Nassau as one of only 867 hospitals in U.S. to receive highest grade
Baptist Medical Center Nassau received an ‘A’ rating in the spring 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, a national distinction recognizing achievements in providing the safest health care for patients. Baptist Nassau has received an A rating for five consecutive times.
“Our community has relied on us to provide the safest, highest quality health care for more than 25 years,” said Ed Hubel, FACHE, hospital president of Baptist Nassau. “This public recognition shows that we are delivering on that promise every day. Our team members and physicians are extremely dedicated to making sure we continue to meet these high standards.”
The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade assigns an A, B, C, D or F grade to hospitals across the country based on their performance in preventing medical errors, infections and other harms among patients in their care. Developed under the guidance of a national expert panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. acute-care hospitals twice per year. The Hospital Safety Grade’s methodology is peer-reviewed and fully transparent, and the results are free to the public.
Baptist South, Baptist Beaches and Baptist Jacksonville also received A safety ratings.
“Our ‘A’ ratings show that we are committed to providing safe, high-quality patient care in all situations,” said David Rice, MD, senior vice president and chief quality officer for Baptist Health. “Our health care teams are dedicated to collaboration and open communication – two keys to success in achieving the highest quality standards in our hospitals.”
Baptist Health’s safety and quality protocols have been further enhanced during the COVID-19 crisis through a number of additional measures. Separate respiratory care units for COVID-19 patients, designated staff and equipment for COVID-19 rooms, and the use of advanced UV technology for decontamination are among the many safety reinforcements the health system has implemented.
“Patients can have peace of mind that their safety always comes first, especially as we move toward resuming all of our regular medical services,” said Dr. Rice.
“As the nation copes with a challenging pandemic, our gratitude extends to hospital leadership and health care workers everywhere for their tremendous dedication,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “We hope this ‘A’ helps to thank the people who work and volunteer for Baptist Health. They are role models in putting patients first, and their service has been extraordinary in our country’s time of need.”
The Leapfrog Group is an independent national watchdog organization committed to health care quality and safety. The Safety Grade is a letter grade assigned to all general hospitals across the country and updated every six months, assessing how well the hospital prevents medical errors and other harms to patients.
Baptist Nassau is also rated a 5-star hospital by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and is designated a Top General Hospital in the nation by The Leapfrog Group.
On April 3rd, Osprey Village, a luxury senior living community on Amelia Island, announced the winners of the Silver Pen Scholarship Competition. The Silver Pen Competition has been hosted by Osprey Village’s parent company, The Maxwell Group, since 2012. The Maxwell Group has awarded over $275,000 to high school seniors to assist with their college costs. The goal of the competition is to bridge the communication gap between high school seniors and community Members.
The community Members at Osprey Village play an integral role as judges in the competition. “It’s a great scholarship opportunity, as local students write essays on a chosen topic and our Members get to read and judge the entries based on the set criteria” said Matthew Barger, Osprey Village’s executive director. “Our Members love participating and it’s a great way to connect with our local community”. This year, the essay topic chosen by Osprey Village was “In recent years trade schools have been increasingly popular and lucrative to the work force. In this essay please compare and contrast the outcome of receiving a four-year degree from a university or attending a trade school for a more hands on skill set.” . All entries were required to be written between 600 – 1000 words.
This year $3,750 in scholarships were awarded for the top three entries. Congratulations to:
1st Place Winner - Skye Black, Sonshine Christian Academy
2nd Place Winner - Jeremiah Giedrys, Fernandina Beach High School
3rd Place Winner - Sydney Krug, Camden County High School
The Silver Pen Competition is open to high school seniors who live or attend school within 25 miles of Osprey Village, employees of Osprey Village and their families, and community residents’ immediate family. Members at Osprey Village play two integral roles in the competition. The panel chooses the essay topic for the competition and once the essays are submitted, the panel gathers to judge the entries and choose a winner. To keep the competition fair, all personal identifiers (name, school, contact information) are redacted when the essays are submitted to the Maxwell Group. Each essay is then given a unique number and distributed for judging. Judges assess the essays based on research, insight and perspective, theme development, inspirational quality, meaningful personal connect, creativity and clarity of ideas.
To learn more about the Silver Pen Competition, visit www.silverpen-slc.com. Osprey Village, is an all-inclusive luxury retirement community with Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Rehab services. The community’s premier lifestyle helps Members live longer, healthier, happier lives.
For more information about Osprey Village, visit:
Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, has selected Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) as one of 84 worldwide winners in its globally-renowned Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards.
JAX was recognized for Best Airport by Size and Region, ranking among the top three airports in North America serving between 5 million and 15 million passengers annually.
The Airport Service Quality program is the world’s leading airport customer experience measurement and benchmarking program. The ASQ Departures program measures passengers’ satisfaction across 34 key performance indicators. In 2019, more than half of the world’s 8.8 billion travelers passed through an ASQ airport.
“The Airport Service Quality Awards represent the highest possible recognition for airport operators around the world and recognize excellence in customer experience,” said ACI World Director General Angela Gittens. “The awards this year have been won by a diverse group of airports, which illustrates the industry-wide commitment to delivering exceptional customer experience, an important business strategy in an increasingly competitive airport industry. ACI’s global ASQ program is the only one that not only recognizes excellence but also provides airports with objective measurement and benchmarking to help drive their performance.”
“In a year of record-breaking passenger traffic, our airport community was able to overcome challenges inherent to such growth,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Mark Van Loh said. “To be acknowledged as one of North America’s best airports is a testament to our customer service focus.”
About Airports Council International
Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2020, ACI serves 668 members, operating 1979 airports in 176 countries.
It’s common to check online ratings before making a purchase decision. When it comes to health care, consumers can compare hospitals through the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services’ (CMS) Hospital Compare ratings. Baptist Medical Center Nassau recently received a 5-star rating in the national ranking.
CMS’ Hospital Compare ratings are based on a variety of measures in seven quality areas: mortality, safety of care, readmission, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care and efficient use of medical imaging.
CMS assigns star ratings to more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide. The most common overall hospital ratings are 3 or 4 stars. All four Baptist Health adult hospitals received 4 and 5-star ratings. Only 6.5% of the hospitals in Florida received 5-star ratings.
“To be rated as one of only 11 hospitals in Florida with five stars is a testament to our entire team’s continuous monitoring of quality and safety,” said Ed Hubel, president of Baptist Medical Center Nassau. “We regularly evaluate and improve our safety and quality measures to ensure patients are getting the best care possible.”
Hospital Compare ratings come from data that hospitals report to CMS, the federal agency that runs the Medicare program. The data are based on Medicare and non-Medicare patients.
You can find Hospital Compare ratings at: www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html.
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