News and Events

Tobacco-Free Partnership of DeSoto County Recognizes Members through Awards Meeting
May 16, 2017

It has been a very successful 2016-2017 year in tobacco prevention work here in DeSoto County. We have been extremely busy working to educate and prevent tobacco use and social norms within our community. We were able to celebrate many accomplishments this year, thanks to several hard working, dedicated members.

Pictured L to R: Jodie DeLoach, Cesar Barajas (SWAT Youth of the Year), Dr. Kirk Voelker

Cesar Barajas was recognized as our 16-17 SWAT Youth of the Year. His leadership and willingness to help has been invaluable. Cesar volunteered to speak on behalf of DHS SWAT Youth at a City Council Meeting, he helped plan and complete a park clean up in honor of Earth Day, as well as, volunteer his time to educate community members at various community events, including but not limited to The Arcadia March Rodeo, Turner Center Trunk or Treat, Tobacco Free Florida Week festivities, and many more. Cesar has been a major asset to our SWAT Youth Program and will definitely be missed! 

Pictured L to R: Jodie DeLoach, Kandice Browning(SWAT Advisor of the Year), Dr. Kirk Voelker

Our 16-17 Advisor of the Year was awarded to Kandice Browning. This was her first year volunteering as our DeSoto High School SWAT Youth Advisor. Being new did not hold her back in any aspect, she dove right in to recruiting and educating our youth. Kandice kept her club involved by holding regular meetings, constantly recruiting new youth, and being active within our community. The youth of DeSoto County are blessed to have adults, such as Kandice, that genuinely care about their future and wellbeing. We look forward to all that she will bring to our program, and the health of DeSoto County, in the years to come.

Pictured L to R: Jodie DeLoach, Melissa Mendoza(Volunteer of the Year), Dr. Kirk Voelker

Melissa Mendoza was chosen as our 16-17 Volunteer of the Year. Melissa is the advisor of our San Juan Community SWAT Club. She has volunteered her time and participated in countless community events, as well as accompanied SWAT youth to overnight statewide SWAT trainings. In addition to working with our youth, she has also put in time volunteering with our partnership. She helped complete numerous Counter Tools POS Store Assessments. These store assessments were used to gather data regarding retail outlets in DeSoto County. This data will provide information to help the Tobacco-Free Partnership decipher where our efforts in the Point of Sale goal area will be focused. Melissa played a huge roll in collecting this data, and we look forward to evaluating the information that was collected for upcoming work. 

It was a pleasure to honor Mrs. Judy Wertz-Strickland as the 16-17 Campion of the Year. Mrs. Judy is currently the City of Arcadia Mayor and has been a tremendous help to the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County. She has welcomed us, both TFP members and SWAT Youth, into several city council meetings, as well as helped put us in contact with key stakeholders in the community. Our greatest thanks go to Mrs. Judy for her support in our efforts to implement a tobacco policy in our city owned and operated parks and recreational facilities. We are working hard to make these areas as safe as possible for the children and youth of DeSoto County, and we are very appreciative of all she has done to help get us to this point. The City of Arcadia is truly lucky to have such an honorable, dedicated individual willing to better us all.

Our 16-17 Most Valuable Partner was none other than Superintendent of DeSoto County Schools, Mr. Adrian Cline. Mr. Cline has been an active member of our partnership for many years. He is a regular attendee at our meetings where he is always more than willing to serve in any way he can. Mr. Cline volunteered this year at the Arcadia March Rodeo, an event where nearly 20,000 people gather, to educate fans on the harmful effects of tobacco use, especially smokeless tobacco. He also played a huge roll in advocating and implementing a 100% tobacco free campus for all DeSoto County School Grounds, a policy we are very proud of. This community is better because of you, Mr. Cline.

Congratulations to you all! We sincerely thank you for all for your hard work and dedication to the Tobacco-Free Partnership of DeSoto County and DeSoto County SWAT Chapter.

“Unity is strength. When there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie J.T. Stepanek