Homebuilder honored for his efforts to raise awareness about student suicide prevention and the SpeakOut Hotline.

Joe Ziler wants to make sure no family has to suffer the pain of losing a loved one by suicide. The Kevco Builders owner’s efforts to raise awareness and draw community attention to the SpeakOut Hotline has earned him international recognition.

Ziler has won a 2020 Communitas Award in the category: Excellence in Community Service | Individual Community Service | Leadership in Individual Community Service. The Communitas Awards recognizes exceptional businesses, organizations and individuals that are unselfishly giving of themselves and their resources.

Last fall, Eustis-based Kevco Builders underwrote the cost of providing 10,000 lanyards imprinted with SpeakOut Hotline information for each Lake County Schools middle schooler. The lanyards, which students are required to wear on campus to display their student ID, raise awareness for the resource which allows students to anonymously report bullying, threats of violence and suicide concerns via text, on the website or a phone call.

Additionally, Kevco Builders paid for colorful SpeakOut Hotline graphic wraps for six school district and two Lake County Sheriff’s Office vehicles that are driven throughout the county and further raise awareness for the SpeakOut hotline.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by the Communitas Awards, but the greater reward is knowing we have been able to make a difference as a community,” said Ziler. “This mission to prevent suicide is never-ending and especially important during these uncertain times when students are not in school due to COVID-19 precautions and therefore less-likely to be observed by fellow students, mental health liaisons, teachers, and administrators who may recognize when someone is struggling and can help provide the needed support and resources.

Communitas is a Latin word that means “people coming together for the good of a community.” The Communitas Awards was started in 2010 as an outgrowth of the pro bono recognition program of the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, a several-thousand-member group that honors creative achievement and fosters partnerships with charities and community organizations.

Ziler was nominated for the Communitas Award by Marc Robertz-Schwartz, president of Leesburg-based video production and full-service marketing agency Red Apples Media, which helped coordinate the Lake County SpeakOut Hotline community awareness initiatives.