20-year-old graduate of Evangelical Christian School and a junior at Florida State University was killed one year ago in a car accident
Four local nonprofits, a church mission trip and a high school senior were the first recipients of funds from the Jordan Ashley Gutheim Foundation Fund and the Jordan Ashley Gutheim Scholarship Fund, funds of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.
The funds were established in memory of Jordan Gutheim, a 20-year-old who graduated from Evangelical Christian School and was a junior at Florida State University. Jordan and her boyfriend Benji Piechoczek were killed in a car accident on May 12, 2016, while waiting to make a legal turn.
Recipients included Valerie’s House, Gulf Coast Humane Society, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Dr. Ella Piper Center’s grandparents program. In addition, Evangelical Christian School senior Kathryn Pinchin received a scholarship to FSU, and a grant was also made to a New Hope Presbyterian Church to aid with a mission trip to the Dominican Republic planned for this June.
“We’re honored, and words can’t describe how meaningful this news is,” said Angela Melvin, executive director and founder of Valerie’s House. “Knowing the Gutheims’ love for their daughter and what this represents to them is beyond special to all of us and especially me personally.”
Valerie’s House was the recipient of a $100,000 grant to be provided during a six-year period.
According to her family, Jordan was passionate about animal safety, seniors and helping those in need in impoverished countries like the Dominican Republic. Her parents plan for the fund to support efforts including no-kill animal shelters, seniors facing dementia, humanitarian mission trips, driver safety and family services. Annually, the Foundation will also award a four-year scholarship to FSU.
“The Gutheims have been in our thoughts as they show such strength, compassion and kindness during this tragic anniversary,” said Lori Burke, executive director of MADD. “My heart goes out to them. We will honor them and their daughter by ensuring we provide meaningful teen groups dedicated to road safety.”
Born in Fort Myers, Jordan was known for her fun and loving spirit, her happiness, sensitivity and interest in going out of her way to help others.
“Jordan had an outpouring of love for her family, friends and people in need,” said her father Greg. “She valued loyalty and kindness,” “She loved to travel, exercise, experience new things and make others laugh. We miss her more and more each day, and through this fund, our wonderfully kind and caring daughter will live on and continue to help others.”
“The Gutheims are saving and enriching the lives of those that need us and enables Gulf Coast Humane Society to be their voice,” said Jennifer Galloway, executive director, Gulf Coast Humane Society.
“This grant award will allow us to enroll two additional foster grandparent volunteers who will be serving at least 2,088 hours in a year serving at least five students daily with one-on-one mentoring and tutoring,” said Nida Eluna, executive director of Dr. Piper Center for Social Services, Inc. “With an additional two foster grandparent volunteers, we will have a total of 98,136 hours annually devoted to mentoring and tutoring children with special needs.”
The fund is available for anyone who would like to contribute at http://bit.ly/JordanAshleyGutheim, or those interested may send a check to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. It partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community last year. With assets of $93 million, it has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Community Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.
Currently, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are located off College Parkway in South Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County) and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.