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PV Rotary Honors First Responders


Ponte Vedra, Florida, February 2024- The Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra (Nocatee) along with its Presenting Sponsor, IQ Fiber, honored first responders for service during the past year; to St. Johns County 2023 Firefighter of the Year Lieutenant Nyani Mattison from Station #18 in Nocatee and to St. John County Sheriff’s Office 2023 Deputy of the Year, Detective Robert Forrest. The Third Annual Rotary Heroes Awards event was also presented by the Ponte Vedra Rotary Foundation, the club’s charitable arm. The awards were given in recognition of excellence in Vocational Service which is one of Rotary’s foundational values. In addition to the many Rotarians, family and friends of the honorees who attended the event at Crosswater Hall at Nocatee, Sheriff Rob Hardwick and his wife Kendell were in attendance as was St. Johns County Fire Acting Fire Chief Sean McGee. Members from the command staff of both agencies, IQ Fiber executives, fellow co-workers of the Heroes, and invited guests participated in the celebration.

Firefighter of the Year Lt. Nyani Mattison, who was introduced by the IQ Fiber Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Kim Smithers, shared that the Lieutenant was an eighteen-year veteran of SJCFR and that she knew since age eleven that she wanted to be a firefighter. She also mentioned that Lt. Mattison’s father was a firefighter with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. When asked about her personal mission as a fire fighter, Lt. Mattison said: “I want to respond to every call, every single day, the best I can. I want to be a mentor and example to the people around me.” Captain Shawn Vitori, who nominated Lt. Mattison for this award, said: “Lt. Mattison is a valuable member of the department. She demonstrates the utmost highest example of integrity in her profession and she is intensely dedicated to mentoring new recruits.” Lt. Mattison has obtained her Managing Fire Officer Certification from the National Fire Academy. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Flagler College.

Deputy of the Year Detective Robert Forrest was introduced by his former supervisor, Sergeant Stacci Sastre, who nominated him for this award. Sergeant Sastre was Rotary’s 2021 Deputy of the Year. Sergeant Sastre shared that Detective Forrest has been with the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office since 2020 and moved to the Major Crimes Division as a Detective at the end of 2023. When asked what inspired him to go into law enforcement, Detective Forrest said: “It is an honorable profession and I chose this path to help others, especially those who cannot help themselves.” Sergeant Sastre said, “He takes great pride in being a law enforcement officer and he treats people with tremendous respect. He is perfect example of a servant leader.” Forrest has a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s in Forensic Studies from Florida Gulf Coast University.

Kelly Altosino-Sastre, Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Charter President and Chair of the Rotary Heroes Awards committee said: “These Rotary Heroes are truly inspiring and we are so fortunate to have them as part of the fabric of our community. They have continually demonstrated Service Above Self throughout their careers and this is Rotary’s motto. It is fitting that they receive the Rotary Heroes Awards.” She added, “We are beyond grateful to IQ Fiber, our community partner for being the Presenting Sponsor of this event.” In addition to the plaques and Rotary International Challenge Coins presented to the Heroes, a donation was made to Fire Fighters for Families, in honor of Lt. Mattison, and a donation was made to the Officer Down Memorial Page in honor of Detective Forrest. These are charities close to their hearts.

In addition to presenting sponsor IQ Fiber, additional sponsors for the event include: VyStar Credit Union, Publix, Starbucks in Nocatee Town Center, Art and Alex and The Doughnut Peddler. The Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra, chartered in April of 2018, is one of 67 Rotary Clubs in North Florida that comprise Rotary District 6970. The club meets on Tuesday mornings at 7:15 a.m. at Treylor Park Restaurant in Nocatee Town Center. The Ponte Vedra Rotary Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is the charitable arm of the club. Rotary is a global network of 1.4 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves. For information: