‘Hidden Hero’ Tina Cortez Protects Broward’s Wildlife During Pandemic

December 17, 2020

The Community Foundation of Broward is proud to honor 12 representatives of dedicated nonprofits who have gone above and beyond during the pandemic. Our inaugural Hidden Heroes Awards shine a light on 12 outstanding examples of bold impact by individuals who make life better in our community.

Tina Cortez is one of the real-life superheroes who are stepping up to help in Broward, just when our community needs them the most.

Community Foundation of Broward Hidden Heroes Award Winner Tina Cortez, of the Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital.

Tina’s heroic efforts have enabled the Sawgrass Nature Center & Wildlife Hospital in Coral Springs to sustain and grow its animal treatment and release program during the pandemic.

When coronavirus infection concerns forced the wildlife hospital to stop accepting volunteer help, Tina – the wildlife hospital director – found new and creative ways to keep their life-saving work going.

She enlisted non-hospital staffers, and even a few family members, to help with caretaking duties such as food preparation and maintenance of animal habitats. She created a new contactless drop-off process to enable Broward residents to keep bringing injured and orphaned animals to the hospital for help. When Sawgrass re-opened to the public and resumed using volunteer help, Tina implemented new training and developed protocols for social distancing, masks and sanitation to keep everyone safe.

And through it all, Tina even took racoons, possums, bats, squirrels and other animals home to provide 24/7 care.

Thanks to Tina’s dedication and innovative approaches, the wildlife hospital is on track to serve more than 900 animals during this challenging year.

“She continues to do what it takes to see that wildlife in need gets the medical help they require despite limited resources,” Tina’s Hidden Heroes Award nomination from Sawgrass said. “The work that Tina does on a daily basis with native wildlife contributes greatly to the overall health of our local animals and ecosystems.”

The Community Foundation’s Prize Patrol recently surprised Tina with a cape and medal, symbolizing her heroic community service. And like our other Hidden Heroes Award winners, Tina received a prize package that includes $500, restaurant gift certificates and a two-night staycation at the beautiful Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel.

“There’s so many people that sacrifice even more than I do. I feel like it’s a unified struggle amongst everyone,” Tina said. “Everybody is having to come forward together to do all of this. I appreciate everything that anybody does.”

Tina is just one example of the many nonprofit hidden heroes all across our community whose hard work helps shape a brighter future for Broward. And thanks to support from philanthropists with charitable Funds at the Community Foundation, these hidden heroes can continue to tackle Broward’s big challenges – during this crisis and beyond.

Click here to see a video of Tina being surprised with her Hidden Hero Award.

Click here to learn more about the Community Foundation of Broward’s Hidden Heroes Award winners.

Learn More

To learn how the Community Foundation can help you fuel heroic, life-changing philanthropy in Broward, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at nthies@cfbroward.org or 954-761-9503.

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