Our Story

Liz’s Legacy was formed in the honor of Mary Elizabeth Stokes who unexpectedly passed away on July 9th, 2015 at age 32.   Liz was a licensed mental health counselor in the central Florida area who specialized in working with children and teenagers.  Because of her desire to help others, and her family’s desire to create a lasting memory in her honor, Liz’s Legacy was created.   Liz’s Legacy was initially formed by Liz’s parents, Jim and Margaret Stokes, and her brother and sister-in-law David and Danielle Stokes.   It is their desire to improve the lives of children and teenagers by providing life changing mental health counseling to those in need.

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Our Approach

Liz’s Legacy has pre-approved counselors we believe to be the best available.  All mental health counselors are required to sign a statement of Christian Faith that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.    Counselors must also have the proper federal, state, and local license requirements.  They are professionals with proven work experience with children and teenagers. Scholarships are provided to the counselors by Liz’s Legacy.    Prospective clients work directly with the counselors who then petition Liz’s Legacy for scholarship funds.  On a quarterly basis, general reports and counts are sent back to the Liz Legacy board listing the number and ages of clients and types of issues addressed.  Due to privacy laws, no client name, address, or personal information is ever requested or required to be sent to the Board.

Liz’s Legacy is an approved Federal  ‘501c3’ charity organization that holds multiple fundraising events to support this mission.

‘Friends of the Foundation’  support our mission with either their time or separate funding to cover the  Foundation’s operational cost.  

common questions

Yes, we are an IRS approved 501c3 organization. Contributions are tax deductible.
Liz’s Legacy only provides grants and scholarships to pre-approved counselors identified on this site.
How are you planning to overcome them? Our biggest obstacle relates to the securing of donations for the need that has surfaced. Every week children and teenagers do not get mental health counseling for many issues, one of the largest is the lack of insurance and/or finances.

For 2018, one of our goal’s met was to add two more approved centers in order to reach more children and teenagers.

For 2019, one of our goal’s met was to obtain ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) accreditation. ECFA  provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with Standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance.

For 2020, one of our goal’s was met  was to provide training for the  parents of children and teenagers.  Over 129 parents have the ‘growing strong child/parent relationships’  group sessions.   

Very little turnover has been experienced.   For 2020, two Board Members rotated off and two new Board Members were added.

To a large degree!  Our board grew from 3 to 10 members in 2018. God has touched the heart of an outstanding group of men and women who have volunteered to serve on our board for two years or more. This excellent mix of talents and expertise has added many new processes and ideas that are now driving the Foundation.

God continues to bless this organization. The need we face is large, as new funds are made available, the foundation has been able to provided more scholarships to children and teenagers and also to locate new counseling centers. We presently support over 30 approved counselors located  in 12 counseling centers in the greater central Florida area. Over 781 scholarships to children and teenagers in need of mental health services have been provided as of July 2021! 

As a new Foundation, there was a focus in 2018 to document our processes and procedures.  In 2019, we become more automated in the accounting area and streamlined the process counselors follow to obtain scholarships.

Then to ensure potential donors to the foundation and our internal processes were efficient and productive, they were reviewed and accredited by ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability).  Visit www.ECFA.org or call 1-800-323-9473.

The Foundation has 3 officers that manage the day to day operations. The full board meets on a quarterly basis to review all aspects of the foundation. Communications to others are via e-mails, letters, and phone calls.

We need funding to help children and teenagers in need.  Early intervention is key as 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness surface in some form by age fourteen. However, diagnoses and treatment does not start for 8 to 10 years later. Mental Health disorders are chronic and progressive – meaning if left untreated, they worsen.

Our primary mission is to provide Mental Health Services to children and teenagers.  However, group sessions for parents on ‘parenting skills’  has been extremely helpful and we  will continue to support more of this training.

Meet The Board

Dave Stokes

President

David is Civil Engineer and partner in a local central Florida Civil Engineering firm that specializes in land development.   David’s hobbies are hunting, fishing, and competitive bicycling.  He and his wife Danielle, who is an elementary school teacher, have two young children.

Margaret Stokes

Director

Margaret was an elementary school teacher for 25 years and has been an active supporter of many central Florida charity organizations supporting the needs of children and teenagers.  Her hobbies are designing and creating custom antique jewelry and spending time with her grandchildren.

Jim Stokes

Treasurer

Jim retired from Lockheed Martin Corporation as an Information Systems Sr. Program Manager. In this capacity Jim implemented IT solutions in support of the Financial, Business, and Manufacturing sectors of multiple divisions. Jim and wife Margaret have lived in the central Florida area for over 42 years. Jim’s hobbies are hunting, fishing, and spending time with his grandchildren.

Bryce Merideth

Board Member | 2016-Current

Mr. Merideth is a founding member of Liz’s Legacy Foundation. Bryce’s commitment in helping Liz’s Legacy in executing their mission has been invaluable. Bryce is a proud owner of Christian Brother’s Automotive of Clermont. In his spare time, he races sports cars in autocross races. Bryce, his lovely wife, Shannon has three children; they are active in their community, and in their church.

Jackie Vozza

Board Member | 2020-Current

Jackie received her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan.  After graduating and moving to Florida, she worked for the Circuit 10 Substance Abuse & Mental Health Program Office & later worked as a therapist at Central Florida Behavioral Hospital.  The majority of her time was spent as a therapist working with children and families.  Jackie and her husband now have two precious children of their own and reside in the Orlando area.

Barbara Stuart

Board Member | 2017-Current

Barbara possesses an extensive background in various leadership roles with Orlando Health and Arnold Palmer Medical Center for Children. These experiences have given her a unique perspective on children and families struggling with many health concerns, including mental illness.  Barbara has used her skills in marketing, fundraising, children and family advocacy, and health management to support and encourage the mission of Liz’s Legacy. Barbara and husband Charlie have three children.

Gary Meloon

Board Member | 2016-Current

Gary Meloon has a long family history with the boat building industry. He served as the VP and Business Manager for Southeast Marine, previously Correct Craft. Gary understands that our families are our greatest treasure. Gary is an avid boater and enjoys spending time on the water, skiing, and fishing. Gary and his wife, Ardis, have two sons, Nathan, whose family resides in Orlando Florida; and son, Gary, Jr., who passed away after losing his fight with mental health issues.

Summer Darnell

LMHC, Board Advisor | 2018-Current

Ms. Darnell’s professional expertise as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor brings great value to our Board, as well as her work with children and families dealing with the aftermath of trauma and abuse, and advocates implementing initiatives based on the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study and trauma-informed approaches to parenting, education and mental health treatment. In addition to her clinical body of work, Ms. Darnell serves as the Founder and Clinical Director of The Nurture Place. 

Lawrence Davis

Board Member | 2020-Current

Lawrence first served in the Air Force then later retired after 29 years with the Lockheed Martin Corporation as an information technology professional responsible for developing and implementing the IT strategies. Lawrence has mentored and worked with youth-based organization for over 30 years. These include the Children’s Home Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Joyce-Gillespie-Harrington Foundation, and the Hankins Johnson Education Foundation. He and his wife have a son, daughter, and two granddaughters.  He enjoys traveling, working out and entertaining his granddaughters.

Tracie Wood

Board Member | 2020-Current

Tracie grew up in the Winter Park area and received an Early Childhood Education degree from Auburn University.  Tracie was an elementary school teacher for 9 ½ years teaching first grade and kindergarten.   Tracie and her husband Chris have been married for 22 years and have 2 boys. Tracie volunteers at her children’s school and at her home church. She has also been active in Bible Study Fellowship, Jail Ministry and Awana. Tracie feels God has given her the heart to serve and minister to children. 

Founding Board of Directors

2017-2019

back row: Steve Cahill, Dave Gabri, Bryce Merideth, Gary Meloon, Michael Anderson Front row: Jim Stokes, Summer Duval, Margaret Stokes, David Stokes, Not Shown: Barbara Stuart, Judd Peterson