Gavin and Annette Ford Have a Passion for Giving Back
Orlando Health truly embodies the spirit of community. We are honored to be an advocate for an organization that exudes a passion for both caring and giving.
We feel extremely fortunate to have Orlando Health’s network of top-notch hospitals providing hope and healing right here in our own backyards.
Tell us about your families’ histories-what were your parents like when you were growing up?
Annette: I came very loving and structured family. My parents promoted accountability and were very goal oriented. My father was one of the first McDonald’s franchisees. He had 48 stores and was instrumental in the building of one of the first Ronald McDonald Houses. He believed in community involvement, was very philanthropic and was a role model in “giving back” to the community.
Gavin: My father was a graduate of West Point. He became a colonel and was killed in Vietnam. My mother died the same year from cancer, so my grandmother adopted the family and sent all five children to boarding schools. My role model was my father-in-law who always promoted accountability, hard work and generosity.
How did the two of you meet?
We met each other on a tennis court in Stuart, Florida in 1986. We were married in 1989 and moved to Central Florida. Gavin was the Director of Tennis at Heathrow Country Club from 1986-1996.
When did Covelli Enterprises start opening Panera Bread stores in Central Florida and how many locations do you have?
Under the guidance of Annette’s father, our first Panera Bread opened in Winter Park during the spring of 1998 with two additional cafés opening that same year. Currently, we operate 80 stores in Central Florida, Tampa and the East Coast from Palm Harbor to Stuart, Florida.
What is some advice you would give to other organizations that want to give back to their community?
Annette: I recommend finding a cause your company is passionate about and determining the best way to contribute to their development. There are endless opportunities to get involved and make an impact. You will also discover that incorporating giving into your business is incredibly rewarding.
Tell us about your company’s philosophy for giving back?
We are dedicated to making a difference in the community and concentrate a lot of our philanthropic giving on children. We firmly believe that if you can make a positive impact on a child’s life, you can help pave their path for the future.
Our giving is structured through a formalized program called Operation Dough-Nation. This is comprised of 3 components including a Day-End Dough-Nation™ program, Community Breadbox™ cash collection boxes and participation in community events through donations, promotions and sponsorships. Additionally at the end of each day, Panera Bread donates all unsold bread and baked goods to local hunger relief agencies and charities. It has always been our motto that “together we can make a difference.”
Why do you choose to partner with Orlando Health (through Panera and as a Board Member)?
Our company has chosen to partner with Orlando Health because we share the same overall goal of helping local children in our community. By aligning with an organization that we believe in, we are able to collectively make a bigger impact through our charitable campaigns. The Panera Bread Playroom was created after we learned that children who were receiving care at the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Heart Center’s Pediatric Cardiology & Cardiac Surgery Outpatient Clinic did not have an area to play and relax while awaiting treatment. We decided to fill this void and pledged proceeds from our Valentine Heart Cookie campaign to fund this initiative. As a result, we were able to turn the dream of a playroom into a reality. Additionally, we are proud to support cancer research efforts for both Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center through Arnie’s March Against Children’s Cancer and our annual Panera Goes Pink campaign.
Annette: As a board member, I am always challenging myself to come up with the best ways possible to utilize our Panera bakery-cafes as a platform for our giving. It is my personal and professional goal to continue to help out the most vulnerable part of society; our children. It warms my heart to know that our sponsorship of Walk For Winnie helps provide care for more than 1400 premature and critically-ill babies every year. I am honored to represent Orlando Health as a board member and passionate about helping the babies and children that they serve on a daily basis. By focusing on children, I am hoping to inspire the doctors, teachers and community leaders of tomorrow.
If there is one thing you would want for people reading this to know about Orlando Health, what would it be?
Orlando Health truly embodies the spirit of community. We are honored to be an advocate for an organization that exudes a passion for both caring and giving. We feel extremely fortunate to have Orlando Health’s network of top-notch hospitals providing hope and healing right here in our own backyards.