Honoring our LSF Heroes

At LSF, we are pleased to honor our employees and recognize them for their hard work and continued effort to embody our mission, vision and values. Through our Heroes and High Fives program, employees can nominate other employees to receive a special award, honoring them for their hard work on furthering the LSF culture. The Hero Award honors those employees who have gone above and beyond their day-to-day job and demonstrated exceptional service, outstanding leadership, or innovative solutions. The High Five Award recognizes employees who exhibit our LSF values in their daily work; values of Honest, Innovative, Generous, Compassionate, and Justice.

Nominations are reviewed and awarded on a quarterly basis.  The Hero Award winners receive a letter from our CEO, Sam Sipes, a personalized plaque, and a floating PTO holiday.  The High Five Award winners receive a letter from our CEO, Sam Sipes, and a lapel pin indicating the value they embodied. Employees who receive five High Five Awards will then be eligible for a floating PTO holiday.

We are so lucky to have such excellent employees, and we wanted to share a few of our recent Hero award recipients with all our LSF supporters. Keep reading to learn more about five of our recent Heroes!

Amy Greene works with our Pinellas CMO, she received her Hero award after a client reached out with an exemplary review for Amy’s hard work. Here’s what Jamie, a mother who adopted with the help of Amy, had to say about her work.

“I met Amy (via phone) in 2020 when my husband and I started the adoption process. I am sure I drove her up the wall (I am known for being a bit, uhm, persistent) inquiring on teens from the Heart Gallery. Amy was always professional, responsive, and polite in helping me understand just how very complicated getting to know a teen and adopting would ultimately be.

Happily, in 2022, we were matched to our now daughter, Alysha, through our Guardian at Litem. We had since moved away from Pinellas, but Alysha was there and therefore under Amy’s purview. I cannot thank her enough for helping us the entire way, even when we weren’t under her department. She helped us get the right information so we could get non-relative placement (I didn’t even know what that was) and get Alysha to us more quickly. She ALWAYS responded to my calls and emails and always offered at least a direction to go in. She was often the only one to respond and we weren’t even her responsibility. Once we were under her case load (via the OCS from Tampa), she was often the only one making things happen and move forward. Given the lack of professionalism from Tampa’s departments, Amy’s was only highlighted further. I am quite sure we never would have gotten across the finish line without Amy’s pushing, support, and responsiveness.” – Jamie Klingman


Samantha Materazzi is a care coordinator specialist within LSF Health Systems. Lauren Pilkinton, Director of Program Operations, nominated her for her Hero award because of her wonderful handling of a service recipient’s mental health crisis. Here’s what Lauren shared about Samantha.

“Samantha was covering the Access to Care line when she received a call from an individual who was in a severe mental health crisis. Sam spent over three hours on the phone with the individual. During the time of the call, Sam established a relationship with the individual, deescalated the individual from the severe mental health crisis, and connected the individual to intensive care. Samantha saved a life.” – Lauren Pilkinton


Desiree Preston, a quality assurance specialist at Duval Head Start, received her Hero award after she stayed on site after her shift ended to help a lost child wandering the parking lot get connected with his mom. Tonica Mathis nominated Desiree, here’s what she had to say about her going above and beyond.

“Ms. Desiree is very alert at all times, always watching out for others. The reason why I wanted to nominate Ms. Desiree is because she spotted a six-year-old right outside of our office in the parking lot and he was looking for his mom. Turned out that the child had walked away from the school after he got out and the mother was running late, so Ms. Desiree asked him where he had come from and when he gave her the name of the school right next door, she called and spoke with someone in the office. They knew that they were talking about the child. She brought him back to his school and the child was reunited with his mom. This was all after hours and Ms. Desiree was on her way home but since she saw the child, she was not going to leave him alone after hours when no one else was around for him.” – Tonica Mathis


Porscha McKinnie, a family and community engagement specialist with Pinellas Head Start, was nominated by her colleague, Melissa Burnett. Melissa wanted to share how Porscha always answers phone calls from any family that she serves. Porscha works to ensure they all feel cared for and helped. Here’s what Melissa shared.

“Porscha will always answer her phone for families even when her shift has ended. Porscha will answer just to make sure that her family is okay and that there is nothing that they need before the next day.  Porscha has the heart of gold. She always goes above and beyond for the families on her caseload. I can recall a time that Porscha had a family who called and stated that their electric was going to be disconnected and Porscha worked tirelessly to have an organization to come to the rescue. In the meantime, Porscha went and purchased the family a cooler and some ice so that they would not lose their food before the next day. Porscha is a very proactive individual. She never says what she is doing for a family that is above and beyond. The families always reach out to say what an amazing person she is. I am so grateful that Porscha is a colleague.” – Melissa Burnett


Talisha Nelms, is a director at one of our Children’s Board Family Resource Centers. Lynique Beckford shared a quote from one of the families that was touched by Talisha’s impact through the services she works to provide. Here’s what Lynique shared on behalf of the family.

“I’m a former empty-nester who was recently given custody of my 2 grandchildren under 2years old. My heart and home being open to my precious grand babies, with my mind made up to accept the care-giving task; I had no doubt that this was something that I could do! A month into care I became confused and overwhelmed with who, what, and how to go about receiving some type of guidaince to help me figure out my new life as a Mom of two (2) babies with immediate needs. After calling many agencies and expressing my situation, only to end up not receiving any return calls, one day I called, then visited the Plant City Children’s Board office; there I met with Miss. Nelms — from that day she change my anxiety level from 10+ to 0, Miss. Nelms is a caring person that made me comfortable enough to be vulnerable (something that is hard for me); Miss. Nelms level of compassion is commendable, she was the only service provider that left me with some dignity and respect in the midst of a real crisis. I didn’t know to what extent I would be helped, she gave me a list of things “I needed to do”, I completed them; Talisha was extremely patient and an ultimate professional through our journey to get me the needed supplies to stabilize my home for my grandchildren, Miss. Nelms is/was an Angel for me and I’m sure for many others. I want to sincerely say Thank you to The Children’s Board for your program and resources and Thank you Talisha for serving with Humility, extreme Kindness, and The Best Level of Service a participant is blessed to receive.”