Who We’ve Helped

Local woman presented her very own Toyota Corolla at Fulfill Your Destiny’s 2017 Spring Chari-Tea thanks to Wheels of Success and Fulfill Your Destiny

Fulfill Your Destiny donated $3,000 to Wheels of Success and through their ‘Build a Car’ program, presented Lyda H. with the keys to her very own ‘new to her’ Toyota Corolla at Fulfill Your Destiny’s 2017 Spring Chari-Tea this year presented by American Momentum Bank.

For the third year in a row, Fulfill Your Destiny and Wheels of Success have partnered to present a local woman with a car at Fulfill Your Destiny’s annual Spring Chari-Tea.

As you read Lyda’s story, I think you’ll agree that three themes resonate.  1) Bad things happen to good people, 2) There by the grace of God go I, and 3) Triumph through Tragedy.

car recipient

Here’s Lyda’s story in her own words:

I just moved back to Florida due to a member of my family being murdered.  I have an 8 month old son and found an excellent job but I don’t have any transportation.  I’m a preschool teacher for 2 to 3 year olds and my job picks me up on their school bus.  I do have one family member that helps for some trips to the doctors, etc.  It’s difficult to travel with an infant so a car would be a great help.

“Thankfully my son is able to come to the preschool where I teach.  He’s in the infant room next to my class so I get to see him throughout the day.  But, on weekends, and what not, if I have to go somewhere, I usually have to have my mom watch him since my fiancée, Brian is working.  Before I got this job, I cared for my son at home which was why I couldn’t afford to go back to work so when I found this opportunity I was greatly appreciative!

Brian does landscaping and it’s been very slow which makes things even harder.  So he works as many days as he can.  Brian has to walk over a mile to the bus stop, then take two busses and walk some more, just to get to work each morning.  It takes almost 2 hours each way since he works in Clearwater and we live in Holiday.  So having a car is going to help us tremendously!  Not only will it save us money on busses and cabs, etc but it will allow us to spend more time together as a family.

wheels of success letterWheels of Success and Fulfill Your Destiny are very happy to present single mother Lyda H with a car so she can continue to teach and provide for her son.   Congratulations and best wishes, Lyda H!  We’re proud of all that you have overcome and are happy to help your future be even brighter.

Please read the Thank You letter Wheels of Success wrote to Fulfill Your Destiny here.


Fulfill Your Destiny Awards $1,000 Business Builder Grant to Wise Women Fitness

AMB sponsored FYD BBG at STCOC Annual Awards Dinner Feb 8, 2018At the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce 2018 Annual Meeting & Awards Dinner, Fulfill Your Destiny awarded one of its signature Business Builder Grants.  Maureen Gallagher, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of American Momentum Bank, one of Fulfill Your Destiny’s Star Sponsors and featured sponsor of this evening’s grant, joined in the presentation and awarding of this grant to a recipient that didn’t know in advance that she would be receiving one of Fulfill Your Destiny’s Business Builder Grants.  This made for a very exciting evening!  Read More


Two Veterans and Owners of Evado Cattle Company Receive a $1,000 ‘Business Builder Grant’ from Fulfill Your Destiny

builder grant 2Dan and Ericka Watson, both Veterans of our US Coast Guard and now owners of Evado Cattle Company, were awarded a $1,000 ‘Business Builder Grant’ at HCC’s 5th Annual Veterans Entrepreneurship Training Symposium.  Thank you to Pilot Bank, one of Fulfill Your Destiny’s ‘Star Sponsors’, for generously sponsoring this grant that was presented at the November symposium. Read More


need a ride

Fulfill Your Destiny thanks the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce 19th Annual Fall Golf Classic Committee for their generosity in helping to establish this program.

Fulfill Your Destiny Presents ‘Business Builder Grant’ to NuStart Community Services, LLC

nustartAngela Mickens, NuStart Community Services, LLC owner receives grant for a riding lawnmower to expand her lawn mowing business.

“Now we’re able to take on more jobs, so by us being blessed we can be a blessing!  A million thank yous wouldn’t be enough!  Thank you again!” ~ Angela Mickens, NuStart Community Services, LLC

Read full story

Fulfill Your Destiny Presents Four $1000 ‘Business Builder Grants’ at the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program Graduation

bbb may 2017

Amanda Milligan with Excel Match, LLC;  Christopher Crist with CC’s Gourmet Products, LLC; Patricia Himes with La Belle Earth; and Rosie Lee with Divergent Dimension, LLC all receive a $1000 Business Builder Grant from Fulfill Your Destiny.

About Fulfill Your Destiny’s ‘Business Builder Grants’, Clinton E. Day, Entrepreneurship Adjunct Professor wrote, “Kudos for the work you are doing.  You are truly walking the talk by helping with nano grants, an excellent way to reward and encourage wannabe entrepreneurs.”

Read full story


Fulfill Your Destiny Presents ‘Business Builder Grant’ to Rachel Revill of Perfect Timing Concierge

Rachel Revill of Perfect Timing Concierge was awarded a $1,000 Business Builder Grant during our 2017 Spring Chari-Tea.

“Thank you Karen and Teri Morrow from the bottom of my heart for your generous heart and gift of love.  Being in the midst of beautiful, powerful, strong and supportive women today was an illustration of community and sisterhood.

This has been an incredible day for me!  Stay tuned to see how your investment in me helps others.  With gratitude!” ~ Rachel Revill, Perfect Timing Concierge

Read full story

Fulfill Your Destiny Presents ‘Business Builder Grant’ to Ashley Grant of The Famous Ashley Grant

BG winner 2Ashley was also awarded a $1,000 Business Builder Grant during our 2017 Spring Chari-Tea.

“I am going to use my grant to get incorporated and launch my Bloggy Friends show I’ve been dreaming about. Thank you Karen Mertes for all that you do.  I hope to make you proud with this amazing gift. Big, ginormous, ridiculous hugs girl.” ~ Ashley Grant

Read full story

 Local woman presented her very own Honda Accord at Fulfill Your Destiny’s 2016 Spring Chari-Tea thanks to Wheels of Success and Fulfill Your Destiny

Fulfill Your Destiny donated $3,000 to Wheels of Success and through their ‘Build a Car’ program, presented Teri A. with the keys to her very own ‘new to her’ Honda Accord at Fulfill Your Destiny’s 2016 Spring Chari-Tea this year presented by C1 Bank.

For the second year in a row, Fulfill Your Destiny and Wheels of Success have partnered to present a local woman with a car at Fulfill Your Destiny’s annual Spring Chari-Tea.

As you read Teri’s story, I think you’ll agree that three themes resonate.  1) Bad things happen to good people, 2) There by the grace of God go I, and 3) Triumph through Tragedy.

Here’s Teri’s story in her own words:

“In 2003, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer and told I had 2 years to live unless my kidney was removed immediately.

I ended up becoming addicted to the pain meds I was prescribed.  I tried to quit on my own and even reached out for help but found none.  We moved to Pasco and I learned about the methadone clinic and thought they would help me.   Instead I simply traded one problem for another.  I spiraled downward until I landed in jail.205_ChariTea_3-19-16

Thanks to an insightful judge, I was sentenced to a program called Ace Opportunities in Dec, 2011.  At Ace, I learned about the three “R’s” – respect (for myself and others), responsibility, and a repetition of recovery.  While I was at Ace, I obtained employment at United Way of Pasco.  I began the long process of rebuilding my life, my relationships, making financial amends and also attending a 12 step program.

I successfully completed all the requirements of my sentence and was able to terminate my probation early.  I write to the judge that sentenced me every year on my anniversary, update him on my progress and thank him for giving me the chance to recreate my life.  I was truly at an unspeakable bottom when I first faced him in court.

I loved working for United Way of Pasco but it was a part time position and I needed more hours if I wanted my son, CJ back as he was living with his dad.  I got a position with Good Samaritan in May, 2013.  Since then I have been promoted twice to my current position of Assistant Director.  I got my own place in July, 2013 and by that December my son was living with me again.

I remain active in my recovery, sponsoring other women and giving back to Ace Opportunities.  The women who were hired for my previous positions at Good Samaritan are also Ace alumni.  I recommended them both.  It’s beautiful to watch another woman’s life transform, to watch her grow and become confident in herself.  I will continue to pay it forward!

I have learned a different way of living life and it involves gratitude, a positive attitude and being of maximum service to everyone.   That’s why I love my job so much; it allows me to help people.”

I have gained a much better relationship with my son.  He is an honor roll student and I’m so excited for the opportunities this car will mean for us.  He starts high school next year and I know there’ll be many activities and things he’ll want to be a part of.  Finally I’ll be able to tell him YES!!!  For many years I’ve had to tell him no because there wasn’t money or a car to do the things he wanted.  He has not once complained.  It’s for my son CJ as much as me that I’m so grateful for my new life.” ~ Teri A.   

Wheels of Success and Fulfill Your Destiny are very happy to present single mother Teri A with a car so she can continue to get promoted in her career and provide for her son.   Congratulations and best wishes, Teri A!  We’re proud of all that you have overcome and are happy to help your future be even brighter.

Fulfill Your Destiny creates a Win-Win-Win for Sidney Caldwell, retired teacher; Fresh Start for Kids; and Blankets of Tampa Bay

blanketsSidney Caldwell, a retired teacher is passionate about helping kids.  It’s not surprising since she’s a retired teacher having taught for over 40 years.  Foster children hold a special place in Sidney’s heart.  When she learned of Fresh Start for Kids, she wanted to help.  So Sidney decided to make fleece blankets in two sizes, asking for a $15 or a $20 donation depending on the size of each blanket.

Karen Mertes, our founder, met Sidney at a local craft fair and was impressed with Sidney’s entrepreneurial spirit and desire to help Fresh Start for Kids.  So Fulfill Your Destiny presented Sidney with a $580 donation check (WIN for Sidney as this gesture validated her idea and ingenuity) and supported her desire to help foster children by making the check directly payable to Fresh Start for Kids (WIN for Fresh Start for Kids).  For this act of kindness, Fulfill Your Destiny received 29 blankets.  Fulfill Your Destiny then donated these blankets to Blankets of Tampa Bay who will distribute them to members of our local homeless population on Christmas Eve, Dec 24th (WIN for Blankets of Tampa Bay).

Hopefully sharing this act of kindness warms your heart!  Karen is always interested in creating Win-Wins.  Kindly contact her should you have ideas.

Fresh Start for Kids receives $580 Gift for Foster Children from Fulfill Your Destiny

fresh start logoFulfill Your Destiny donated $580 to Fresh Start for Kids which is committed to providing hope, direction and life changing experiences for children in foster care.  By providing these children with a summer camp experience, they are able to create positive connections with specially trained staff and learn that they are loved and valued.

Camp Fresh Start is a week long sleep over camp for children ages 7 through 11 and ages 12 through 14 that are in the foster care system.  The camp ratio is one counselor to one camper, and that doesn’t include the staff nurses, camp directors, activity leaders and additional support staff.  This safe and protected environment allows these children to break down the walls that they have built around them and connect in a healthy, positive way with mentors and other children.

Fresh Start for Kids is run 100% by volunteers.  Over 100 members of the Tampa Bay community come together for a common goal:  to make a difference in these children’s lives.  Most of the volunteers are working full time jobs, but unselfishly take a week or more of their vacation to come to camp as counselors, nurses, and support staff.

When each child arrives at camp they are amazed to see that their beds have been decorated with personalized pillows or blankets.  They each have a duffel bag filled with supplies for camp.

Realizing that when family life is unstable, birthdays are sometimes forgotten, Camp Fresh Start celebrates each child’s birthday with a big party.  Imagine a child’s joy when they realize that someone cared enough to carefully select presents just for them.

fresh startThe entire Camp Fresh Start program is designed to build each child’s self esteem.  Children select daily activities that interest them such as archery, crafts, music, outdoor survival, sports, and more.  With the encouragement of their counselors, children set and reach goals in each activity.

One foster father wrote, “We sent Michael to this camp … the child that came home after that week of camp was changed forever.  Michael was no longer cowering around strangers.  What we noticed most was the relationship that he developed with his counselor was amazing and healthy.  For the first time since Michael had entered our home he displayed excitement for what was happening around him.  He was no longer ‘hiding behind us’ when we went out.  He seemed more at ease with himself and others.”

To learn more about Camp Fresh Start and how you may be able to help, please call 813-814-1128 and visit www.freshstartforkids.org.

Fulfill Your Destiny sells Macy’s Shop For A Cause Shopping Passes at Network of Executive Women monthly general membership meetings to benefit two other local charities – Miracles Outreach and the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay

miracleThank you Network of Executive Women for supporting Fulfill Your Destiny’s partnership with the Macy’s Shop For A Cause annual program.  Together we made positive impacts helping two local charities, Miracles Outreach and the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.  Thank you letters received from both organizations are attached (on the left).

An excerpt from The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay shares, 

“You’ve done a wonderful thing.  Your recent support of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay helped the family of a wife and mother battling breast cancer.  Juanita’s diagnosis and treatment had a severe negative effect on her family’s finances.  She was unable to work while undergoing chemotherapy and her husband took unpaid leave to care for her and their two daughters.

When they realized they couldn’t pay the electric bill, Juanita and her husband turned to the Family Stabilization program at the Crisis Center.  A Case Manager helped them not only pay the electric bill, but also develop a household budget that reduced their monthly expenses.  The Case Manager also recognized Juanita was qualified for training as a Child Development Associate (CDA) – a promising new career path.

Juanita is still receiving treatments, but is cancer free and pursuing her new career.  Her husband recently received a promotion and a raise.  They put money into a savings account each month, giving them the financial security they need to face life’s unexpected challenges.

Thanks to your generous gift, this family made it through a crisis.”  ~ Clara A. Reynolds, President & CEO and Sandy McLaughlin, Vice President of Development

Fulfill Your Destiny helps PARC by having them provide custom made Teapot and Teacup ornaments for all guests attending Fulfill Your Destiny’s 2016 Spring Chari-Tea

The PARC Mission is to provide opportunities for children and adults with developmental disabilities to exercise their independence and experience life to the fullest   Fulfill Your Destiny commissioned PARC to make custom Teapot and Teacup ornamentsornamentAll guests that attended Fulfill Your Destiny’s 2016 Spring Chari-Tea presented by C1 Bank received one of these custom made ornaments as a gift for attending this year’s Chari-Tea.

PARC’s developmentally disabled clients were employed to make the custom Teapot and Teacup ornaments.  These clients received compensation for their work through an appropriate donation that Fulfill Your Destiny made to PARC.

By attending our 2016 Spring Chari-Tea, we helped a number of PARC clients by giving them fulfilling and meaningful work which positively impacted their lives!

Thank you to our title Teapot Sponsor, C1 Bank and the other 37 Sponsors of Fulfill Your Destiny’s 2016 Spring Chari-Tea as well as all of this year’s attendees for supporting our work of helping others in our greater Tampa Bay community.


Fulfill Your Destiny creates New Initiative with Wheels of Success thanks to the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce

The South Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the Committee for the 19th Annual Fall Golf Classic presented by Caldeco and ZapCap selected Fulfill Your Destiny as their beneficiary charity. The money raised at this year’s event has allowed Fulfill Your Destiny to start a new initiative, partnering with Wheels of Success, presenting $100 Gas Gift Cards to Veterans receiving vehicles through the Vehicles for Veterans Program. At least 20 local Veterans will receive assistance. Read Full Story


Foster Youth Emmalee received keys to her very own Audi Cabriolet convertible at Fulfill Your Destiny’s 2015 Spring Chari-Tea thanks to Wheels of Success and Fulfill Your Destiny

Wheels of Success and Fulfill Your Destiny partnered to present Emmalee with the keys to her very own Audi Cabriolet convertible at Fulfill Your Destiny’s 2015 Spring Chari-Tea this year presented by Hands Across the Bay.

FosterEmmalee is a young woman who is aging out of the foster care system.  In foster care since the age of 16, Emmalee’s determination has allowed her to complete her GED despite her simultaneous transition into the system.  She is a trade school graduate and will soon be completing her education at Chelsea Jones St. Petersburg College.  Wheels of Success’ Wheels to the Future program was designed to enable youth aging out of foster care to maintain employment, pursue further education and prosper in life…..because after all, who else is there to provide them with their first car?

emmalee“Receiving a vehicle is going to give me the opportunity to take on an additional job and help me achieve independence. The time spent waiting on rides and walking to my destinations can now be spent making more money, studying to further my education, and enjoying life” ~ Emmalee

Wheels of Success and Fulfill Your Destiny are very happy to present Emmalee with a car so she can drive to work and further her education. Congratulations and best wishes, Emmalee! We’re proud of all that you have achieved and are happy to help your future be even brighter.

“Saturday’s Chari-Tea event held by Fulfill Your Destiny was truly inspiring. We had the opportunity to present foster youth Emmalee with the keys to her red Audi Cabriolet convertible. Such a moving experience – many tissues were needed! Thank you Karen Mertes and Fulfill Your Destiny for funding the restoration to Emmalee’s vehicle!” ~ Susan Jacobs, Wheels of Success, Founder & CEO

$20,000 Donation made to Fulfill Your Destiny for Karen Gillman’s Keratoconus Eye Surgery

Karen Gillman

A very generous donor partnered with Fulfill Your Destiny to donate the funds needed to Mrs. Gillman, for her to have eye surgery for a progressive eye disease called Keratoconus. As part of Fulfill Your Destiny’s fundraising strategies, its founder, Karen Mertes, personally donated $1000. In this case, the matching gift that Karen Mertes made reflected a 5% return on charitable investment for this philanthropist. The tremendous generosity of this philanthropist and his desire to partner with Fulfill Your Destiny, allowed us by working together, to provide the funds needed to help save Mrs. Gillman’s sight.

Fulfill Your Destiny presented a check to the Gillman Family for $21,000. 

Here’s more background on the Keratoconus eye disease and Karen Gillman shared by her husband, Mark.  “In 2003 my wife was diagnosed with Keratoconus which is a progressive eye disease in which the normally round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape.  This cone shape deflects light as it enters the eye on its way to the light-sensitive retina, causing distorted vision.


Over the years her eye disease has worsened to the point that it is very difficult for her to see in a dimly lit room, drive at night or read anything without her glasses.  When a familiar person is approaching her it is challenging to determine who it is until they are less than 10 ft away.

FOT586CKaren, my wife of 15 years, is 48 years old, works full-time and together we have two children under the age of 5.  The eye surgery she is seeking is medically necessary to save her vision.  In order to best care for her life responsibilities and continue with the same quality of life it is our desire to proceed with the eye surgery.

The surgery costs, which we’re unable to afford nor covered by insurance, are estimated at $21,309. This does not include travel to CA, lodging, childcare or life expenses associated with medical leave.”

Please join Fulfill Your Destiny in wishing Karen Gillman all the best with her eye surgery and follow on care.

Dr Boxer Walchlers TEDx video: #‎Keratoconus ‪#‎TEDx talk – Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler discusses his challenges to pioneer a breakthrough procedure to prevent cornea transplants.


Fulfill Your Destiny Makes Donation to Aletha Turner’s gofundme Campaign to Help with Cancer Treatment Bills

gofundmeKaren Mertes, our founder, was very touched by Aletha’s email . “I know Aletha and wanted to support her as she’s doing all she can to help herself.  She has a history of being a H.E.R.O. where her “Hands Eagerly Reach Out” to help others.  Now it’s her turn to receive some assistance.” ~ Karen Mertes

Fulfill Your Destiny supports Aletha Turner in her fight.  Please consider making a gift to her campaign and show your support.

Good morning,  I would normally not send a ‘blind’ email out to all my LinkedIn contacts, but I could really use your help.  

I have recently been diagnosed with a recurrence of Breast Cancer (Stage 2).  Since this is my second go round with this disease, I have been told that my best course of treatment is a double mastectomy with Chemo and Radiation. 

This has not only been devastating mentally, but due to the economy and not being able to find a full time job, we are not in the best financial position. 

I do have health insurance that goes into effect July 1, but it will not cover 100%.  I already have over to $2,000 in bills for all the test and biopsy’s.  The insurance I had previously only covered the diagnostic test – the initial mammogram.  Did not cover further testing or biopsy’s, ultrasounds, etc.  I was able to get Obama Care that goes into effect July 1, but it will not cover everything and there is still high deductibles and co-pays, medicines, etc.  Even if I could find a full time job, I will not able to work full time, probably not even part time for a while, so this is going to be extremely stressful financially.  Like I said, I already have over $2000 in medical bills and I haven’t even started treatment! 

Some of you know me personally, others only through LinkedIn.  I just turned 58, am a mother of 4 great children and have 4 grandchildren of my own and 4 from my husband – so 8 in total!  My oldest grandchild is turning 16 in a week! I am the Editor in Chief of a Veterans Publication – Veterans Post News – www.facebook.com/veteranspostnews and www.veteranspostnews.com  that comes out monthly (don’t get paid for that one) and work part time at JPMorgan Chase in Technical Writing.

I am already spreading money around as best I can and trying to make arrangements so I can pay things over time, but it is so overwhelming right now.

I have never asked for things for myself before.  I have worked for numerous charities and other non-profit organizations, but never asked for anything for myself.  This has been very difficult for me and I appreciate any help that will come my way!  Please consider donating… any amount would be greatly appreciated!

The gofundme page is www.gofundme.com/alethalady and you can find me on facebook – just look me up – Aletha Turner (Palm Harbor) – I would love to have you as a facebook friend too!

Thank you for reading this!  If you don’t feel able to donate, please spread the word! 

Thank you again,      

Aletha Turner


Pray for Jackie


Pray for Jackie Faircloth Trust
June 22, 2015

C/o Stonegate Bank
Attn: Amy Tebbe
4600 W. Kennedy Blvd
Tampa, FL 33609


Dear Jackie,

From one brain injury survivor to another, please accept this donation in support of you and your journey.

I sustained my traumatic brain injury (TBI) on February 7, 2007 when the car I was driving on I-75 was struck by a very drunk driver traveling literally over 100 mph.

I’ve learned many valuable lessons in my healing journey since this senseless crash, three of which I’d like to share in hopes of providing you some insight, inspiration and comfort.

First, please learn to embrace ‘the new you’ that you are becoming and focus less of your energies on trying to get back to ‘the old you’. Once you’re able to do that, honoring what remains pre-accident yet embracing the new, true healing can take place at an accelerated rate.

Second, love yourself unconditionally. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and then smile and laugh at those mistakes. Since we have many reasons to succeed, we simply don’t have reasons to quit. Since we’re not quitting, we cannot fail. Now that we’ve established we cannot fail, we should not have fear. You are a SURVIVOR so love yourself no matter what.

Third, you’re destined for something very special. I can say after over 8 years of living with my TBI that I have come to own my TBI yet I’m determined not to be owned by it. My TBI has taken me in positive directions I simply never would have gone. I’ve found that what most would have deemed obstacles have, in fact, become opportunities for different kinds of success.

This is my wish for you too!


To the Faircloth Family,

I invite you to contact me if I may be of assistance to you as a fellow TBI survivor or if I may answer any questions for you. I’ll continue to keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Warmest Wishes,

Karen R. Mertes, Lt Col (Ret), USAF
Founder & President


Spoto High School thanks Fulfill Your Destiny

“Dear Ms. Mertes, 

I would like to thank Fulfill Your Destiny for your generous donation to our Tyra Brown Fundraiser and 5K Run For Tyra.  Because of organizations like Fulfill Your Destiny and our wonderful student body and staff, we were able to raise $14,200 for Tyra and her family.

Tyra is now at a facility in Largo, Florida.  She is responding to her therapy and is beginning to talk.  That is wonderful music to our ears!  We are hoping she will be able to come home in the near future, still working with therapists.  Her mother is planning on using the money we raised to make some adjustments to her house so Tyra will be more comfortable.

I am sending you our 5K shirt.  It was wonderful meeting you and I wish you and Fulfill Your Destiny success in the future.”

~ Wendy Smith, Teacher, Spoto High School

Women across Tampa Bay Unite and Support the Network of Executive Women (NEW) Exceptional Woman of the Year (EWOTY) and Scholarship Awards Program


Supporting the Network of Executive Women’s 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Exceptional Woman of the Year and Scholarship Awards Programs, Fulfill Your Destiny made contributions each year which when combined with the generosity of others, was awarded as scholarships to fourteen outstanding local women – two women in 2012 and four women in each year 2013, 2014 and 2015.


tyraFulfill Your Destiny sponsors 5K at Spoto High School benefiting high school senior, Tyra Janelle Brown, a traumatic brain injury survivor

Fulfill Your Destiny is the Platinum Sponsor for the 5K Run for Tyra on May 9th, 2015.  Here is the link for the article written by Mr. Ernest Hooper of the Tampa Bay Times describing what happened to this Spoto High School Senior and more info about the 5K event that Spoto is holding: Click Here


Thank you from Visions of Hope Int.

“Dear Karen, Thank you so very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with Rena and I.  I certainly appreciate and respect your wisdom and advice.  As we both know, starting a non-profit is not always easy, but it can be very rewarding to bless those that you serve.  I know as a young organization we are still learning and evolving, but I also know this, we are changing and saving lives by providing a service to survivors that would otherwise feel lost and alone.

I know that all of us as non-profits serve a great purpose in our community.  I am so thankful for every one of them as they fill a need individually and as a whole.

I thank you for your heart and giving back in such an amazing way to so many wonderful organizations.  You are truly helping others to Fulfill their Destiny.”

~ Warmly, Lorianne De Loreto Wallace, Founder/CEO, Visions of Hope Int.

Meet Callie P. and Lauren S.:

Callie P. and Lauren S. formed Tu Tu Cute for Leukemia after being diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).  Together with their parents, family and friends, they planned, organized and executed their First Annual Golf Tournament to raise money in support of the Light the Night Walk, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s annual fundraising walk to pay tribute and bring hope to people battling cancer.  Hundreds of thousands of participants raise funds for lifesaving research and patient services.  Every dollar provided is by concerned donors and helps save lives.

Tu Tu girls

In organizing and holding their Fist Annual Golf Tournament, these young ladies showed that they are true H.E.R.O.es – their ‘Hands Eagerly Reach Out’ to help others by courageously sharing their stories with the community and being beacons of light, bringing awareness to their conditions and causing others to act.

Fulfill Your Destiny is honored to support these two young H.E.R.O.es and wishes them all the very best as they courageously continue on their journeys.

To learn more about and follow Callie’s journey, please visit http://youtu.be/5VkVnRm30KY.

To learn more about and follow Lauren’s journey, please visit www.caringbridge.com/visit/laurenstaples.

tutu girls

Fulfill Your Destiny proudly supports one of our Community Partners, the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium

Fulfill Your Destiny proudly supports one of our Community Partners, the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium as they establish a Culinary Student Scholarship Fund in cooperation with the Trey Curry Foundation and Hillsborough Community College.

“Chef Dave and Karen West celebrate 20 years in business with a 20th Anniversary Scholarship Event Dinner on Friday, March 20 at 6:30 PM at the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium, 2080 Badlands Drive, Brandon, FL 33511.  This dinner will be an “Evening with the Chefs, A Night to Celebrate!”  All proceeds from this event fund the Culinary Student Scholarship.

Rolling Pin Karen West started the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in early 1995 at the Brandon Town Center Mall as a single small retail sore.  Over the course of 20 years, Chef Dave joined in the business, we moved to our current location, expanded the store to three times its original size, and added the Culinary Center and Cooking School.  As a way to recognize the accomplishments of the business and to give back to the community, Chef Dave and Karen are excited to establish a Culinary Student Scholarship Fund in cooperation with the Trey Curry Foundation and Hillsborough Community College.  The scholarship will be awarded to second year culinary students who are enrolled in HCC, exhibit exceptional culinary skills, maintain above-average academic progress, and have financial need.  HCC Culinary faculty and fund representatives will administer the scholarship program and Chef Dave will be involved in the final selection.  “Our hope is to encourage and assist a deserving student find their way and their dream in the culinary world,” says Chef Dave.

You can be part of the inaugural scholarship fund-raising event!  ALL PROCEEDS from this “Evening with the Chefs, A Night to Celebrate!” will go directly to the scholarship fund.  Rolling Pin will donate all of the food and ingredients needed for the event, Transatlantic Wines will provide all of the spirits for the evening, and each chef has graciously agreed to donate their time and efforts for the cause.  Our hope is to sell out this event with credit card, cash, and check purchases so all funds will be raised directly.  Additionally, we will have some donated items from our chefs and from some of our past celebrity chefs that you will be able to bid on during a Silent Auction.  We hope to raise $4,000 – $5,000 at this event alone.”

Generous donor works with Fulfill Your Destiny to support Olivia Miller Memorial Fund

A generous donor contacted Fulfill Your Destiny desiring to make a donation to the Olivia Miller Memorial Fund organized by PACE Center for Girls.  Sadly, Olivia Miller was killed by her boyfriend as a victim of domestic violence.  At 22, Olivia left behind a 5 year-old son.  Fulfill Your Destiny donated an additional 10% in honor of this donor, giving this donor an immediate 10% return on her charitable monetary donation and assisting the Miller family even more by 110%. Fulfill Your Destiny made the combined donation on behalf of and in honor of this donor and in accordance with her wishes.


Fulfill Your Destiny has inspired the GFWC Clearwater Community Woman’s Club to honor a member each month as their HERO of the Month

“Dear Karen:   We were so inspired by your message about courageous women and HERO’s whose Hands Eagerly Reach Out that it became a theme for our club year.  It occurred to me that the members of our club reach out constantly in so many different ways to help people and improve the community.  They truly are everyday HERO’s determined to get the job done and fearless in finding ways to meet our goals. I stress this idea each month in my President’s message in our newsletter, The Daisy Chain.

I  think the Hero Theme and the Hero Awards, which you inspired, have contributed greatly to our having a successful year.  We thank you so much for your inspiration. Good luck with your future endeavors.”  Read More…

~ Sincerely, JoAnne Roby, President of GFWC Clearwater Community Woman’s Club

Mistaken Identity Victim receives help from Fulfill Your Destiny

Meet Carmen M.:

Reporter Lauren Mayk with WFLA News Channel 8 shared Carmen’s story.  Carmen was the victim of a case of mistaken identity  that landed her in a Tampa prison for over a week.  When Judge Heinrich discovered the error, he released her immediately.  Judge Heinrich remarked, “This is the worst case of mistaken identity I have ever seen”.  Naturally this kind and gentle older woman was very frightened and is still suffering from terrible nightmares.

Unfortunately, Carmen’s plight is not over.  The State of New York still has the right to extradite her and hold her in Riker’s Island prison while they research the case and eventually come to the same conclusion as Judge Heinrich in Florida has.  Carmen is understandably terrified.

Fulfill Your Destiny respects Carmen’s courage in publicly sharing her remarkable story and considers her a H.E.R.O. as her ‘Hands Eagerly Reach Out’ to help, warn and educate others.

Thank You from Carmen M.:

“Dear Karen, Thank you for your heartfelt gift.  It brought tears to my eyes to see how a total stranger has reacted to my dreadful experience.  May God repay your generosity a thousand fold.  Perhaps one day we can meet so I can thank you in person.” 

~ With love, Carmen Medina

Fulfill Your Destiny Receives a Letter from Governor Scott

Governor Rick Scott

Community Learning Center Thanks Karen

“Dear Karen – I can’t tell you how much your talk at the Community Learning Center helped me.  Though I got my product tutoring the disabled man from fourth grade through high school, I didn’t really know that I was dealing with a brain damaged person.  Your talk made that clear to me.  My dealings with him now are all with that in mind.  You explained so much.  By the way, he just finished his first quarter of college and without my help got an “A”.  I will be editing his book and helping him to become a good writer.  I want to thank you and let you know how much your talk meant to me.  You have opened my eyes. 

~ Sincerely, Sioux Hart”

Thank you received from the Spring

“On behalf of the families we serve, I offer my heartfelt appreciation to you for making the 23rd Annual Mabel H. Bexley Gift of Peace Brunch a success with your gift.  Your financial generosity ensures that we will continue providing safety, hope and renewal to families affected by domestic violence in Hillsborough County.  Your support helps us stay committed to preventing domestic violence, protecting victims and promoting change in lives, families and communities.”

~ Mindy Murphy, President & CEO of the Spring

Meet Katherine P.:

Katherine is enrolled in Hillsborough Community College (HCC) after originally graduating from HCC in 1977 with an Associate’s degree.  She’s now working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.  She is a single mom working in a full time position as well as a part time one to support herself and her teenage daughter.  Katherine was recently in an auto crash where she suffered a traumatic brain injury but this has not deterred her.  She is focused and working hard to make sure she achieves her goals with a positive attitude.  She maintains a 4.0 GPA all while still overseeing her daughter’s school work, activities as well as her own involvement in the community.   Fulfill Your Destiny partnered with the Tampa Bay Business Professional Women and awarded Katherine a partial scholarship in 2013.

Fulfill Your Destiny supports local Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Survivor

Meet Danielle C.:

This story is paraphrased from Danielle’s brochure.  At the age of 9, after years of suffering and endless tests, doctor’s visits and several misdiagnoses, Danielle was diagnosed with the trigger induced Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS).

CVS is a stomach condition characterized by nausea and vomiting.  It is extremely difficult to diagnose, often being misdiagnosed as another GI disorder.

There are two types of CVS.  In the first type, vomiting typically occurs in 30-60 day cycles and may last about a week.  The second type is caused by ‘triggers,’ commonly brought on by stress, excitement and lack of sleep.  The vomiting lasts anywhere from 24 hours to a week.  Hospitalization is often necessary in order to control the symptoms and treat dehydration.  CVS most often affects children and some luckily outgrow the illness by adolescence, however the diagnosis is also increasing in adults.  Treatment is still unknown, although there are now some medications that help suppress symptoms.

Danielle started taking medicine and drank a ‘corn starch smoothie’ every night to help control the symptoms.  Although the condition is not life-threatening, it is life-debilitating.  Danielle missed out on many activities and school.  Her family had to plan activities around her illness, never knowing if she would wake up to an ‘episode’.  To this day, Danielle still suffers from a milder form of CVS but has not missed more than one day of school at a time in two years.

The Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Association is close to Danielle’s heart and she’s hoping to raise money to find a cure for this condition that affects the lives of many.  Danielle hosted the ‘First Annual Tampa Bay Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome Association Golf Tournament’.

Fulfill Your Destiny is honored to support Danielle and considers her a H.E.R.O.  Her ‘Hands Eagerly Reach Out’ to help others by courageously sharing her story and taking action in hosting this Golf Tournament to increase awareness of CVS and help find a cure.

Fulfill Your Destiny Receives Thank You from The Centre

The Centre

Fulfill Your Destiny Assists Stroke Survivor

Fulfill Your Destiny helped a long time Tampa resident after she recently suffered a mild stroke.  Due to the fact that she lost time from work and requires ongoing Speech Therapy, Fulfill Your Destiny provided her with a grant.  As a result of the stroke, she was unable to continue a tradition where she organized meals for local disadvantaged children.  She’s hopeful to resume the event soon as she continues to heal.

A special Thank You to Painting with a Twist and specifically their Painting with a Purpose program which provided the funding for this grant through their partnership with Fulfill Your Destiny.

Fulfill Your Destiny Helps Save a Life

Fulfill Your Destiny provided the remaining initial dollars needed for a local woman (name not given to protect her privacy) to get a kidney transplant.  Fulfill Your Destiny learned of the woman and her brother (who is donating one of his kidneys to his sister; he relocated his family to Florida, both he and his wife gave up their careers as a result of this relocation and he lost 100 lbs to be a suitable donor for his sister).   This brother (name not given to protect his privacy) also worked to raise the $10,000 needed to pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance associated with the transplantation.  After months of fundraising to include hosting a major event that brought in thousands of dollars, this sister and brother team were short of the necessary $10K required before the transplant can occur.  Fulfill Your Destiny got them to their goal which now allows the sister to have the transplant timely.  This brother is clearly a H.E.R.O. where his ‘Hands Eagerly Reach Out’ to help his sister.

Business Professional Women Tampa Bay and Fulfill Your Destiny partner to help 35 local women awarding Scholarships over five consecutive years in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016


Meet Nicole M.:

Nicole is a 2009 graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Criminology.  She is currently in her second year of a 3 year program at Stetson University College of Law, with an anticipated graduation date of 2013.  While her academic achievement is impressive in its own right, it becomes outstanding in light of an incident which occurred in 2006.  In February of that year, Nicole was involved in a head-on collision with a speeding drunk driver.

She suffered life-threatening injuries including a traumatic brain injury, requiring crisis care treatment.  To underscore the seriousness of her injuries, the criminal case was originally assigned to a homicide detective, as her medical treating physicians were not optimistic of her chances of survival.

She required extensive physical and cognitive therapy, which involved Nicole re-learning basic activities such as walking, counting and many more tasks we take for granted every day.  When she was able to, Nicole began to speak publicly about her traumatic experience at the hands of a drunk driver.

She continues to use her gifts as a public speaker on the extensive effects of her traumatic brain injury, while continuing to maintain a full academic program. Fulfill Your Destiny partnered with the Tampa Bay Business Professional Women and awarded Nicole a partial scholarship in 2012 and 2013.

Thank you received from Dress for Success Tampa Bay

“On behalf of the Dress for Success Tampa Bay board of directors, staff and clients I want to thank you for your Bronze Sponsorship of the 15 Year Anniversary Gala.  The money raised will help hundreds of women get back on their feet.

I believe that, in difficult times, we all must dig a bit deeper and work a little harder to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our communities have the help they need to both survive and thrive.  You truly understand this need because by participating in our event you rose to the occasion and supported women who are working to overcome significant obstacles.

Dress for Success Tampa Bay could not exist without the support of organizations like Fulfill Your Destiny.  Your dedication to our mission means even more now because the need for our services is so great.  And we are sincerely grateful for your support, as are all the women that Dress for Success Tampa Bay reaches each year.

Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many women in the Tampa Bay area.” 

~ Sincerely, Katie McGill, Executive Director, Dress for Success Tampa Bay

Lightning Community Hero Honoree shares grant with her five charities of choice (listed alphabetically):  Bay Area Legal Services, Dress for Success, Fulfill Your Destiny, Hands Across the Bay and Mothers Against Drunk Driving

“Your generous $10,000 gift to Bay Area Legal Services is making a difference in the lives of domestic violence victims.  We send our heartfelt appreciation and continued success with Fulfill Your Destiny.”

                                                                                                ~ Warmest Regards from all of us at Bay Area Legal Services


“Special thanks to our AMAZING Board Member, Karen Mertes, who was honored as a Community Hero by the Lightning and named Hands Across the Bay as one of the grant recipients!! THANK YOU AGAIN Karen – we will be able to help SO many Tampa Bay Residents with this funding!”

~ Hands Across the Bay

Fulfill Your Destiny Joins Community in Supporting Michael Nicholson Road to Recovery Fund

Fulfill Your Destiny made a donation to the Michael Nicholson Road to Recovery fund.  Corporal Michael Nicholson, USMC, is a native son of Tampa.  He enlisted in our Marine Corps in June of 2008 and was later deployed to Afghanistan in April of 2011.  Corporal Nicholson was on a combat foot patrol in Afghanistan on July 6, 2011 when his unit was attacked and a remotely detonated IED was triggered.  Mike sustained several severe injuries including the loss of both legs, his left arm and a traumatic brain injury.


“Our family would like to thank you for your generous contribution to Michael’s Road to Recovery Fund.  He has a long journey ahead of him and your gift will be a tremendous help along the way.  Words alone cannot express our appreciation and gratitude. Thank you again for your thoughtfulness.”

~ Sincerely, John & Mary N.

Fulfill Your Destiny Provides Assistance to Wounded Military


“Your generous donation will help us provide a way to say ‘Thanks’ to our wounded military and their families.  Your interest and support are appreciated and without your kind assistance, our efforts to help the wounded or injured military service members and their families could not be possible.  On behalf of our Operation Helping Hand Committee, our active duty patients being treated at James A. Haley VA Hospital here in Tampa, and their families, we thank you very much!”

~ Robert S.


“On behalf of the patients and staff of James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, Tampa, FL, we wish to thank you for your participation in our August Operation Helping Hand’s dinner held for our patients, their families and friends.  Your continued support of these dinners demonstrates your commitment to our mission and recognizes that you and others in the Tampa community are appreciative of the sacrifices of our service men and women in defending our nation’s freedom.  Again, thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity”.

~ Kathleen F., Director, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital

Women across Tampa Bay Unite and Support the Network of Executive Women Exceptional Woman of the Year & Scholarship Awards Program

Supporting the Network of Executive Women’s 2012, 2013 and 2014 Exceptional Woman of the Year & Scholarship Awards Programs, Fulfill Your Destiny made contributions each year which when combined with the generosity of others, was awarded as scholarships to ten outstanding local women – two women in 2012, four women in 2013 and four in 2014.

Local Organizations Receive Support

In honoring Fulfill Your Destiny’s third objective, to increase awareness of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) Fulfill Your Destiny and Karen Mertes have supported the following Tampa organizations to date, serving our local community

(listed alphabetically):

In addition to the organizations listed above, we’ve donated time and/or in-kind donations to the following organizations serving our local community (listed alphabetically):

Success Stories Photo Gallery

As a ‘Celebrity Dancer‘ in Tampa Bay’s Dancing with the Stars, Karen is raising money for Hands Across the Bay along with the following seven beneficiary charities (listed alphabetically):


“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ~ Mark Twain