NEW TAMPA - A commitment of service to others runs deep in Margaret Andrade's family.
Although her mother died when she was just 6, she remembers her as being very involved in charitable causes. And now as the mother of two young children of her own, Andrade often includes them in activities and projects that help others.
The Lutz resident's contributions to her community and beyond during her first year as a full-fledged member of the GFWC New Tampa Junior Women's club - following one year of provisional service to the organization - recently earned her high honors from peers throughout Hillsborough, Hernando and Pasco counties.
During the GFWC Florida Federation of Women's Clubs' convention, Andrade was named 2012-2013 District 8 Volunteer of the Year from among a field of close to 1000 members from the 27 clubs that encompass the region.
"While balancing taking care of two small kids who are not in school yet she chairs many projects and is on our board of directors," said 2013-2014 club president Candice Melton, who noted Andrade was the 2012-2013 treasurer and following the club's summer recess will serve as the 2013-2014 first vice president.
As a provisional member she chaired the Little Dresses for Africa. In doing so she enlisted not only the support of club members but students from a sewing class at Powell Middle School in Brooksville as well as several Facebook followers from throughout the country who contributed money toward purchasing 328 pillowcases from which club members and students made dresses that were subsequently shipped to children in African orphanages.
Andrade, who also served the club's community service program chair, organized the KIVA initiative in which the club and several of its members gave loans to entrepreneurs in struggling countries.
"She is such a shining example and embodies everything our organization needs," Melton said. "She steps up and takes leadership roles, she inspires club and non-club members to get involved and her positive attitude is contagious."
Melton is also impressed with how Andrade is teaching her children the importance of giving.
"She involves her children in projects any time she can," Melton said.
In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the organization, Andrade also received the New Tampa club's 2012-2013 Margaret Deats Award, named in honor of its founding president.
Both accolades caught Andrade completely off guard.
"I don't feel like I've gone above and beyond, plus there are so many people who've been in the GFWC for much longer than I have," she said. "But afterward when I talked to other people about it, it started to sink in. I felt really honored."
The New Tampa club also earned first place in the GFWC Florida Juniors Special Project category. The group's One Voice for Children initiatives are focused on improving the lives of Florida's children through literacy projects, scholarships and involvement in youth-related issues.
Anyone interested in joining the organization are asked to contact membership recruitment chairwoman Lauren Gispanski at firstname.lastname@example.org.