Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

 Cohort 11: Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

Stetson University’s Executive MBA Cohort 11 developed marketing plans for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida for their final project in the Marketing Decision-Making course facilitated by Dr. Michelle DeMoss in Spring 2014. Cohort 11 was instrumental in generating ideas for the development of Second Harvest Food Bank’s marketing objectives, strategies, and assisting them with maximizing marketing opportunities to improve their deliverables to the community. The objective of this project was to apply real world learning experiences to benefit both students and the community.

Cohort 11 at Second Harvest Food Bank

Cohort 11 at Second Harvest Food Bank

Second Harvest incorporated some of Stetson’s Executive MBA marketing plan solutions to use in both the short and long term. With September being the Hunger Action month, Second Harvest was dedicated to promote hunger awareness across the US through special events, e-newsletters, blogs as well as their staff and volunteers wearing orange t-shirts in support of their going orange campaign to fight hunger.

During this time, Second Harvest was also competing to receive a Walmart Fighting Hunger, Spark Change $60,000 grant which would help them provide 315,000 meals to the Central Florida community.

pic2Keith Henry, a current Stetson Executive MBA student and search marketing manager at the Walt Disney Company, helped Second Harvest create their first Facebook campaign. Keith leveraged his professional talents, expertise, and shared strategies to increase their fundraising exposure and marketing efforts, during a timeframe well beyond the conclusion of the advanced marketing course offered in the Executive MBA program. Through collaborative efforts of the Second Harvest team and Keith Henry, success was achieved by winning the Walmart grant for $60,000. “Giving back to those less fortunate is a passion of mine, said Keith Henry. I considered this more than just a class project, for me, it was an opportunity to utilize my expertise for the benefit of an organization I truly believe in. I feel privileged to have played a part in Second Harvest being awarded the $60,000 Walmart grant”. Second Harvest is very appreciative of Keith who donated time out of his busy work, school and family schedule to help them achieve this success and contribute to the Central Florida community.

Last Day in Vietnam – Saigon Children

Saigon Children

by Judy Ashbrook & Mayra Santiago

Today, we had the great pleasure to visit the students and administration of the Saigon Children’s Charity (SCC) – a very worthwhile local charity which focuses on poverty reduction through education and training.

After a very informative presentation by the Communication Development Manager, Do Thi Xuan Phuc, we got an opportunity to talk to a group of students, ages 14-22, about why higher education is important, potential career opportunities they can consider, as well as sharing personal stories in order to get to know one another.  There was a 20 minute dialogue back and forth sharing the importance of education, learning how it can help them in their life, and the students were very interested in learning about us and what we do! They heard about Margo’s work with the Disney internship program and learned that they could dream to be an intern and work at one day.  Mayra spoke about coming from Puerto Rico and choosing to immerse herself in the American cultural and way of life, becoming a leader in Disney Company. We also enjoyed interacting with the students and staff through an ice breaker in which we broke up into 3 groups, had 5 minutes to create a team name, brand slogan and how we’d promote ourselves, and then present to the group. Three distinguished teams emerged based on commonalities between Stetson students and Saigon students.  Our team was Magic Saigon – Magic to represent Magic Kingdom and Orlando Magic blended with their Saigon.  We pictured fireworks over the Saigon skyline, and decided we would sell ourselves by promising magic through creativity, education, and innovation.

The students in this school have the opportunity learn skills in many areas such as hospitality, beauty, IT, English and photography.  In order to fund their programs, SCC has many fund raising initiatives. For example, recently they have published a book of photographs taken by the students themselves reflecting Vietnam daily life. With proceeds from this book, SCC will be able to continue support the children of Vietnam with initiatives such as scholarship programs, school construction and training and educational development programs.

To end a wonderful time with this organization, we were able to show our support by purchasing several of the ‘coffee table’ books displaying this impressive collection of photographs  taken by students and compiled over 5 years.  We discussed on the bus to look for ways we could give back to them, and with 90% of the profits going directly back in the form of aid & scholarships these seemed perfect!  Our total donation came to around US$500 which we will be used to help the kids of Ho Chi Minh City to be empowered and self-sufficient. This visit was an extremely rewarding and apt way to end our time in Vietnam!


Saigon Children’s Charity is truly making a difference in the lives of the children in Vietnam every day.  We encourage you to follow this link below so that you can too can learn more about the Saigon Children’s Charity.

Cohort 9 visits Safari Park with disadvantaged children

Cohort 9 visits Budapest Safari Park for the group's outreach effort.

Cohort 9 participated in a safari park excursion with children from Budapest “State Care” (orphanage). With the help of many local volunteers from Hakosz (Students in the Community Service), students had the exciting opportunity to meet more than 20 children ages 4 to 12 at the Budapest Safari Park, located 30 minutes outside of the city.

“It was an enjoyable time of sharing laughter, interactive games and diverse languages,” said Wendy Lowe, coordinator of the Stetson University Executive MBA program.

The cohort was broken into six teams, each with three or four children assigned to it. Along with the volunteers from Hakosz, the groups toured the park, seeing animals such as bears, deer, birds and wolves in their natural habitats while team members played interactive games with one another.

“One of the games was each team would build a sugar cube castle while blindfolded,” explained Lowe. “While we gave the Hungarian children directions in English, they gave us directions such us up, down, left and right in English. We also learned to turn over a rug together using logic and teamwork as we all stood on the mat.

A bear was part of the park tour.

“Despite the language barriers, the walls came down with smiles, sharing of local snacks and with the help of the volunteers,” said Lowe. “Stetson students felt proud to be able to give these children a field trip away from their everyday surroundings and into a natural habitat where we could join in their excitement. During our three hours together, we shared more than just fun and games, we truly made a significant impact in their lives!

“Wayne Rigsby became a human jungle gym as the kids climbed on him and enjoyed his spirit. Christina Boncela immediately bonded with a little girl that looked up to her like a sister. Joe Chatterjee had running races with several boys who found his energy contagious. These children perhaps made a more significant impact on us! They helped us realize that the motto “work hard, play hard” is definitely rewarding, and as we learned at Nokia, ‘living adventurously’ is possible. We will take away numerous life lessons from our time with these loving children.”

The trip to the Budapest Safari Park was Cohort 9’s last organized activity together on the international trip.

“We ended our trip with farewells and hugs,” said Lowe. “About a quarter of the group will be extending their trip and traveling elsewhere in Europe and beyond. As these students travel by planes, trains and automobiles, we will have lasting memories of our time in Istanbul and Budapest.”

Stetson University helps homeless family in Central Florida

A homeless family in Central Florida captured the attention of Stetson University staff, students and alumni.

This past week has been an extraordinary one for Stetson University. If you’ve been following CBS and the 60 Minutes segment on the homeless in Florida, which aired Nov. 29, you know the story of the Metzger family of Sanford. Watch the CBS 60 Minutes video segment here.

Arielle Metzger, 15, was wearing a green and gray Stetson T-shirt during her interview. Arielle, who lives in a truck with her brother Austin, 13, and father Tom, talked about how important education is to the family and how she eventually wants to become a lawyer to help children and homeless people.

Stetson reached out to the Metzger family with the following:

  • A financial aid package to cover the full cost of attending the university for Arielle and Austin. Watch as Fox News follows up with the family in Sanford after Arielle and Austin Metzger learned that Stetson University guaranteed them a full scholarship.
  • To help guide them, three undergraduates from the Stetson Bonner Scholars Program will mentor Arielle and Austin as they continue their public school education. The Bonner Scholars Program is a prestigious national program dedicated to opening access to education for all students who are seeking an opportunity to serve others. Stetson is the only Bonner school in Florida.
  • Members of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority committed to raise funds to help support some of the immediate needs of the family.
  • The Metzger family met
 with President Libby on the CBS Early Show. Watch as the Metzgers discuss receiving the full scholarship from Stetson University.
  • Stetson has always had a significant commitment to serving the greater community. From DeLand to Gulfport, the university distinguishes herself through a university-wide commitment to affirming the worth and dignity of every human being and to bettering the world.
  • Hundreds of alumni, parents and friends have contacted the university inquiring as to how they can help families like the Metzgers. You can be a part of the university’s efforts to assist families with extreme financial need by making a contribution to one or more of the following funds or programs (by anthony). Just link to Stetson’s online gift form, click on “other” and enter the name of the following fund or program you would like to support:

Dr. Wendy Libby, right, appeared on the CBS Early Show with Arielle and Austin Metzger.

The Bonner Scholars Program — Supporting students who are actively engaged in service to people in need
The Student Coalition to End Homelessness — Stetson University student organization that works directly with the homeless in Volusia County
The Opportunity Stetson Scholarship — Providing scholarship suport for students in extreme need
The Annual Fund — Providing scholarship support each year for students with financial need
Law General Scholarship Fund — Supporting law students with financial need
Public Service Fellows — Providing resources for law students who work with the indigent

For more information, call the Office of Development at 386-822-7455 
or e-mail

Guatemala City children to benefit from Stetson outreach

Students and alumni formed assembly lines to package meals for children in Guatemala City.

More than 5,000 children in Guatemala City will receive a nutritious meal because of students, alumni and friends from Stetson University in Celebration. More than 75 volunteers donated two hours on Saturday, Dec. 3, to assemble meals for malnourished children abroad. Friends of Stetson packed 5,200 meals and donated $1,300, which will aid starving children in Guatemala this holiday season. “This philanthropic effort at the Celebration Center was a success,” said Wendy Lowe, Stetson University Executive MBA program coordinator. “We re-evaluated our goals early on, and based on the participants’ infectious joy, we feel fortunate to be able to proudly say that Stetson University contributed to feeding more than 5,000 starving children and raising more than $1,300.” Volunteers helped the Feeding Children Everywhere staff unload the truck and set up five assembly lines. With holiday music and Christmas spirit filling the room, each assembly line packed meals that consisted of rice, protein (lentils), vegetables, vitamins and minerals. The meals are scientifically formulated to combat the effects of hunger on the human body. All that recipients need to do to cook each meal is to add it to boiling water.

Children were handy helpers, too, during the food packaging event.

Younger family members helped by flattening the meal pouches for shipping purposes and adding personal messages and drawings to the outside of the shipping containers for the Guatemalan children to enjoy. Executive MBA students Duane Trumble and Glorimar Hefner of Cohort 9 and Raul Herrera of Cohort 8 brought their entire family, children included, to share in the experience, as did Cohort 6 alumna Melania Lavezzi. “Their smiles said it all,” said Lowe. Those who donated their time included current students and alumni, along with their friends and family members, from Stetson University’s Executive MBA program, Professional MBA program, Passport Degree Completion program and the School of Education/Counseling. The school’s programs worked together to organize this philanthropic activity. “We learned that our students and alumni were interested in participating in an activity that would have a meaningful impact,” explained Lowe (by anthony). “We selected Feeding Children Everywhere because it has both a global and local presence, factors our students noted were important.”

The volunteers’ efforts will be felt more than 1,000 miles away in Guatemala City.

Lowe pointed out that alumni from Executive MBA program cohorts 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 participated or made donations, as well as current students in Cohorts 8 and 9. Other Stetson University faculty and staff, including Professor Peggy Stahl, Dr. Chris Tobler and Dr. Becky Oliphant, also participated and enjoyed the opportunity to interact with students and alumni in a social setting. “It’s always a more meaningful feeling when I’ve reached out to support a reason that’s greater than myself,” said Monica Jordan, a student in Cohort 9 who volunteered to pack meals. Kathy Hannon, assistant director of the Professional MBA program, said she enjoyed the stories shared by the Feeding Children Everywhere staff throughout the event. “These stories allowed us to understand the impact that we were making globally,” added Hannon. “I am grateful for the outpouring of support and generosity,” said Lowe, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the beginning of continued philanthropic efforts in Celebration.” Donations will still be accepted online until Dec. 7.