Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Montalto and Tony Montalto.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.
Running a charitable foundation was not something we ever imagined ourselves doing, rather we were thrust into it under very horrific circumstance with the murder of our 14-year-old daughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.
Very early on after Gina’s death friends, family, strangers near and far were reaching out. People wanted to know what they could do to help. As her parents, we were very numb in those early days. Our family searched for a way to keep Gina’s memory alive, still sharing her light and love for this world and everything in it. We decided quickly that an educational scholarship to encourage and assist others in achieving their dreams (as we hoped Gina would have done) would be a fitting tribute for her legacy. We have never wavered in our approach or mission to honor our daughter in this way.
The Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation, Inc. is truly a “mom & pop” organization with support from Gina’s family. We are building the foundation to exist in perpetuity in order to keep her spirit of kindness and memory alive. We look forward to having her brother Anthony join us in this mission.
Our family was always philanthropic donating to various charities and as an avid volunteer, with Jennifer serving as past President of our local MOMS Club and past PTA Vice President at our children’s elementary school. Tony served on various committees for the Air Line Pilots Association and together we run the Social committee in our community.
Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
We struggle with extreme sadness every day as we try to function without our happy, helpful, and wonderful daughter. Not a moment goes by when we don’t feel our loss. Finding meaningful ways to have our daughter remembered especially her kindness and generous spirt is a bit of a challenge. When people remember mass shootings the public tends to forget the names of the individuals who were killed. This is why we try to focus on areas that speak to her spirt and that she would have enjoyed participating in if we still had her here with us.
Of course, as with any not-for-profit organization fundraising is a challenge. Public awareness of our mission and goals is also a struggle. Greater public support would allow the Foundation to help a greater number of students and causes in the future.
We have been fortunate to have the support of local businesses who are willing to help us keep Gina’s memory alive such as Living Water Surf School in Pompano Beach, the South Florida Winter Guard Association, Gooser Ink, RotoWear and Just a Note to name a few. The foundation is always on the look out for a partner that is willing to help us with our mission.
Finding a long term solution to distributing Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation promotional items has proven to be one of our biggest challenges. We offer t-shirts and tanks at various local events and on our website, We would like to offer a wider variety of products without running the operation out of our garage.
We’d love to learn more about your work. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a brand, organization, service provider or creative? What sets you apart from others?
To honor Gina’s memory we have set up this foundation to help students with the cost of post secondary education, As well as make charitable donations to causes Gina supported.
ABOUT OUR SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMS
The Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation, Inc. will have several key programs under which qualified candidates may apply:
The Foundation will be awarding scholarships to help with the cost of post-secondary education. One $5,000 scholarship will be awarded to one student who is pursuing studies in the Arts (e.g., Dance, Music, Theater and Visual Arts). A second $5,000 Scholarship will be awarded to a student pursuing a degree in one of the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math). Gina was a gifted artist and an excellent student. She loved to learn and excelled in each of these areas.
As a proud member of the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida since kindergarten, Gina had her heart set on achieving the highest honor in that organization. Sadly, she was unable to reach that goal prior to her life being tragically cut short. In her honor, the Foundation will also be awarding a $1,500 annual scholarship to one Girl Scout who achieves the Gold award from the Southeast Florida service unit.
To help prevent another mass shooting, the Foundation will also be awarding a scholarship to an individual attending Nova Southeastern University (2019) who is pursuing an advanced degree in Clinical Psychology, Social Work, or Marriage and Family Therapy. More mental health professionals are needed in our country to identify and support those who require their help.
It is our hope that through your generous donations, the Foundation will be able to keep Gina’s light shining by helping others achieve their full potential.
In addition to awarding scholarships to well deserving Girl Scouts and students one of our greatest honors was participating with Hands-On Broward on the Parkland Hearts Project which honored our daughter. Along side community volunteers, close friends and family members we were able to make over a library and arts and crafts space at Kids in Distress in Wilton Manors, FL. Gina loved to read, when she was younger she once told her mother she loved books so much she wanted to live in a library. So this project was a wonderful way to keep Gina’s memory alive.
We have been blessed to be able to create unique fundraisers that speak to how Gina lived. One such event scheduled for springtime is now in its planning stage as we are going on our 3rd year is the annual “Egg my Lawn” event. This event has members of our community coming together as “bunnies” & egg runners racing all over our city delivering candy filled eggs to homes. Be on the look out for the elusive golden egg which contains a special prize. Gina loved the thrill of the hunt and to bring people together for a fun time. A community event like this speaks to her spirt.
What were you like growing up? Personality wise, interest wise, etc.
Jennifer is a Florida native growing up in the Hialeah Miami Lakes area, Tony hails from New York growing up in Pelham a suburb of New York City. We both have fond memories of our childhoods and strong traditions surrounding family and friends, especially holiday gatherings. These traditions and family values are very important to us and the foundation for what we instilled in both our children.
In high school, Jennifer had the opportunity to volunteer with the Special Olympics. She shared her love of inclusion of individuals of all abilities with our kindhearted daughter, Gina, who regularly volunteered her time with the Friendship Journey. Jennifer has been awarded The Friendship Journey’s Inclusion Award for her kindness & unwavering commitment to those with varying exceptionalities. She will receive this award at The Friendship Journey’s 2nd Annual Gala on September 2019. Tony always had an interest in aviation which led him to a career as an airline pilot. He has completed his 30th year in the industry.
- Address: 5645 Coral Ridge Dr. #434
Coral Springs, FL 33076
- Website: www.ginarosemmf.org
- Phone: 954-261-4262
- Email: email@example.com
personal family photos