Mentor at area school gets top award for efforts

Kelly Williford working with third-grader Damaryus Reed at Lake Forest Elementary School.

Special to The Sun
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 9:08 p.m.
A Coca-Cola employee who mentors students at Lake Forest Elementary School was honored at a reception Tuesday in the Governor's Mansion.
Gov. Jeb Bush and Colin Powell, the former U.S. secretary of state, were among the attendees at the reception where Kelly Williford was officially named the Florida Mentoring Excellence Program's Corporate Mentor of the Year.
Williford works in the Florida Coca-Cola Bottling Company's Gainesville Sales Center.
On Thursdays, Williford and several co-workers take time out to go to Janis Bishop's third-grade classroom and help students prepare for the FCAT, or Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Sometimes that means reading with them, other times it means quizzing them on their multiplication facts.
Each year, the volunteers also organize special events like Thanksgiving dinners, an FCAT celebration and a visit from Santa Claus.
Williford created the team two-and-a-half years ago and coordinates the volunteers. The program was so successful, in fact, it expanded from three members to 13, and it now serves Rawlings Elementary School, too.
"It's such a satisfying and heartwarming feeling when the kids hug and thank you for the things you've done and for making them feel loved," Williford said. "Lake Forest has become my family."
Tiffany Pakkala can be reached at (352) 338-3111 or

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