Vicki Sokolik was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. While obtaining a Bachelor of Journalism, with a minor in Advertising and Public Relations, from the University of Texas at Austin, Vicki met her husband Joel Sokolik, M.D. She and Joel lived in Galveston, Texas for 8 years where she opened her own advertising and public relations office with a branch in Dallas. After her husband completed his training and became certified as a Neuroradiologist, they moved to Tampa, FL where they have lived for 25 years. They have raised 2 children – Cori (30) and Cameron (28). While establishing roots in Tampa, FL, Vicki became an active volunteer in her children’s schools and was awarded the Fred T Rogers Award, the Parent/Family Involvement Award, and was a finalist for the Eddy Award, all of which commend individuals for their excellence in improving the lives of children. She has been recognized for raising money to fund a state of the art computer lab at Tampa Palms Elementary School and for raising money to build an outdoor amphitheatre at Orange Grove Magnet School. She also received a letter from President Bush recognizing her outstanding leadership and her commitment to education.
After many years of doing small, yet meaningful, acts of kindness around Tampa and with a rigorous push from Mayor Pam Iorio, in 2007, Vicki founded Starting Right, Now – an organization that eliminates homelessness by pairing destitute families or unaccompanied with a mentor. The mentor works with the family to establish a secure home, by finding housing and employment, and then proceeds to teach proper budgeting, work ethic, and social skills to maintain this stability. The mentor then turns his attention to the children, motivating and guiding them to ensure they reach their highest education potential. Education is the main priority of the program because with this goal in mind, the organization instills in the youth the tools necessary to end the cycle of homelessness. The strength of this program lies in that it is not just a band-aid, but instead a serious cure, truly removing these youths from their incredibly meager standings and placing them in a world with endless possibilities and real potential.
In 2010, Vicki was recognized with the Bank of America Local Hero Award. In 2011 Bay News 9 saluted her the Volunteer of the Year Award followed by the Sertoma Club awarding her the Service to Mankind Award. That same year, the Lightning Foundation awarded her as the Community Hero. Starting Right, Now won Nonprofit of the Year 2012 and again in 2018. Starting Right, Now was honored with Suntrust Lighting the Way Award for 2017. Vicki was instrumental in lobbying and testifying before the House of Representatives in Florida to pass four bills to advocate for these youths throughout the State. Due to her active role in the area, Secretary Wilkins, Florida's Chief Operating Officer for Government Operations, where Vicki served on the Independent Living Services Advisory Council for the State of Florida. Vicki was also appointed by the Governor to serve on the Council of Homeless Board. She continues to lobby for bills to improve the lives of homeless youth.
Starting Right, Now has a facility for homeless youth in Hillsborough and St. Pete and is currently working on a pilot program in North Carolina with intent to take the program nationwide.