Hibiscus Children’s Center Founder LaVaughn Tilton Awarded “Legacy Award”


Hibiscus Children’s Center is honored to share that Hibiscus Children’s Center Founder, LaVaughn Tilton, was awarded the National Philanthropy Day “Leave a Legacy Award”.  This special award was presented at a recent luncheon hosted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and accepted by Matt Markley, Hibiscus CEO, on LaVaughn’s behalf.

When LaVaughn passed away earlier this year, our community lost one of our children’s greatest advocates and heroes. CEO Matt Markley shared, “When Hibiscus opened its doors 36 years ago, I’m reasonably certain LaVaughn had no idea the legacy she would leave. She desperately wanted to end child abuse and neglect, but if she couldn’t end it in her lifetime, she wanted to make sure the children had a safe haven where they are loved, cared for and nurtured.  That is LaVaughn’s legacy.” 

The community-wide effect that LaVaughn created is still going strong today in the family of volunteers, staff and supporters who continue to join in the fight against the devastating trauma children experience right here on the Treasure Coast. LaVaughn laid the blueprint for the care victimized children needed.  Following in her footsteps, our goal is to protect children and help them cope with trauma while building positive adaptive and problem-solving skills that will lead to a successful future.

Hibiscus was also honored that the three nominees who received awards during last year’s virtual National Philanthropy Day event were honored at this year’s celebration at Harbor Ridge Country Club.  Dan Braden received the “Unsung Hero” award for successfully combining his skills and talents as a renowned architect with his passion for protecting children and making life better for them. Dan donated his professional services as owner of Braden & Braden AIA, P.A., a local architectural firm, to the design, building and renovation projects of the Hibiscus Shelter and Village. As an active member of the Board of Directors since 1985, Dan has been a leader in the governance and leadership of the organization’s operations.  Dan has been a tremendous advocate and supporter for over 35 years.

Michelle Schwartz received the “Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser” Award for her leadership to help create and execute a successful first-time Hibiscus event.  Many new business professionals were introduced to the organization’s mission and at least 75 new potential supporters attended. The following year, Michelle did it again with a fun kick-up your heels “Gone Country” event that brought in over 20% of new supporters.  Michelle continues to be an active Guild Member and help fundraise to support the children. 

Lilly Freese received the “Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy” Award for starting her own business in 2017 - Boots’ Beach Bakery – to combine her passion to help others with her delicious baking talents.  And she was only 8 years old when she started!  Her goal was to donate the proceeds to local charities.  During the Hibiscus Fashion Show & Luncheon, Lilly was recognized as the youngest corporate sponsor. Lilly is a special young lady who has said, “I’m a kid trying to make the world a better place one sweet treat at a time”! 

For more information about Hibiscus Children’s Center, please visit us at: or contact Michelle King, CDO, at (cell) 561-452-5791.

2020 National Philanthropy Day Winners: Dan Braden, Michelle Schwartz and Lilly Freese.