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Battle of the Minds benefits Free Clinic

By Katherine Snow Smith
Published: March 5, 2018 Updated: March 5, 2018 at 06:23 PM
James and Barbara Brownlee, Beth Houghton and Mollie Holden before the Battle of the Minds began. Times / Katherine Snow Smith


The two big takeaways from the Free Clinicís Battle of the Minds annual fundraiser are: the organization changes lives on a daily basis, and many of its supporters arenít as smart as they thought.

Some of this yearís 30 questions stumped a lot of us.

What group was originally known as Starfish? Black Sabbath, Cold Play, OneRepublic or Imagine Dragons? Coldplay. They seem way too cool to ever name themselves Starfish.

What was first awarded in 1893? The Nobel Prize, Academy Award, Presidential Medal of Freedom or Stanley Cup. Few guessed hockey held the oldest distinction of honor.

Where was President Gerald Ford born? Youíd think Grand Rapids, Mich. since he played football for Michigan and his presidential library is in Ann Arbor. But that option was just to throw us off. Omaha, Neb. was correct.

What is the top grossing mafia movie between The Godfather, Untouchables, Goodfellas and Casino? This seemed like another trick question since The Godfather was the obvious answer so many thought it was Goodfellas. Wrong again. It was The Godfather.

What term did Henry V. Porter first coin in a 1939 essay? Domino Theory, Oscar, March Madness or Bull Pen? Would you believe "March Madness"? The only help I gave my table was knowing Fala was the dog of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

There were also some serious questions thrown in the mix.

How many people are food insecure in Pinellas County? One in four children and one in seven adults lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food.

"Itís easy for us to forget that our neighbors struggle to put food on the table," said Beth Houghton, executive director of the Free Clinic, which distributed 4.7 million pounds of food last year. "We hear every day ĎThank you. Thank God I found you,í and ĎThank God for the Free Clinic.í "

The clinic offers free medical care as well as transitional shelters for the homeless.

I asked Milly Taylor, director of Beacon House menís shelter, if she ever felt overwhelmed at all the needs she sees.

"When Iím at a low point, Iíll hear from someone we helped. In fact it just happened not long ago," she said, explaining a former resident stopped by to say hello. Taylor recalled that he didnít last long at Beacon House his first time there because he couldnít abide by the rules, but came back about a year later and was ready to commit to beating his addictions and improving his life. He worked at the Free Clinicís food bank, finished school then left Beacon House to live on his own. Itís been about 18 months since she saw him last.

"Now heís living in a house. Heís bought his own truck and works for the Salvation Army," Taylor said.

Beacon House will soon move from its location on Central Avenue where clients sleep in barracks style dorms to a facility with apartments and semiprivate living.

Houghton told the packed room at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort that the clinic offers more than housing, food and medical care. It offers second, or third chances and it gives adults, and children, hope.

"It was once said that hope is the only thing stronger than fear," she said.


Bishop emeritus Robert Lynch of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg was presented the Roy G. Harrell Jr. Leadership Award and also was the keynote speaker at St. Anthonyís Hospital Foundationís annual Legacy Dinner and Awards.

Bishop Lynch was praised for being a promoter of social justice who has worked for decades to support programs that help those who are marginalized in society, including the poor, homeless, migrants and refugees. He injected his voice into issues unrelated to the church, including the importance of childhood vaccines and spending local tax dollars to help the poor.

Other community leaders were honored as well. Paula Blenda, who has volunteered and supported the Boys & Girls Club, the Science Center, Queen of Hearts and the Florida Orchestra Guild received the Helen D. Roberts Philanthropy Award.

The Hippocrates Award went to pulmonologist Warren Abel, who is a member of many organizations including the Florida Medical Association, the Pinellas County Medical Association, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and the American Medical Association.

Andrew and Jennifer Seidl received the Future Leaders in Philanthropy Award because of their involvement with various arts organizations in Houston, service on the junior board of the Alabama Ballet and her work with the Junior League of St. Petersburg.

The event drew more than 220 people including Scott Smith, president of St. Anthonyís Hospital; James McClintic, the hospitalís vice president of medical affairs; foundation board chairman Emery Ellinger and his wife Burchie; and board members David Punzak, Travis Brown, Michael Pounders, Daniel Masi, Rachael Russell, James Shatz and Vince and Lenda Naimoli.

Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at [email protected] Follow @snowsmith.