The St. Petersburg chapter of Hadassah celebrated its eighth theme party, this time for the new Hadassah Hospital Tower at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. "From Russia With Love," held at the Wine Cellar in North Redington Beach, featured Russian food, dancing and music: Russia-born Dr. Emil Katz of Seminole sang and played the balalaika.
Event chairwoman Marilyn LeVine wore a "jeweled" headpiece throughout the evening. Additional participants included Hadassah president Chana Olmstead, incoming president Rhoda Ross, Maya Lazarus, Dr. Morris LeVine, Dr. Gordon and Adele Gilbert, Marget Katz, Dr. Steven and Susan LeVine, Dr. Brian and Susan Kagan, Bruce and Mary Ann Marger, Jane and Don Silverberg, Selma Krohn, Lisl Schick, Dr. David LeVine, Gail Frye, Adele Morris, Dr. Mitchell and Ellie LeVine, Betinna Herman, Leah Davis, Laurie Reiskind, Dr. Gloria Freed and Irma and Jack Mayer.
In winning the PODS Championship at Innisbrook, golfer Sean O'Hair had his biggest payday ever.
The event also was a financial boost for the Academy Prep Center for Education, which has schools in St. Petersburg and Tampa: It is the primary charity of the PODS Championship and has been chosen 2007 PGA Tour Charity of the Year, which means it will receive $30,000 for library enhancements.
All Academy Prep students qualify for full scholarships and nearly all graduates are in high school or college or have completed high school.
For the last six years, Academy Prep students, families, staff and trustees have volunteered thousands of hours on-site at the tournament.
"Every piece of conventional wisdom was wrong," Republican political strategist Mary Matalin says of the current U.S. presidential campaign. "There is no template for this kind of cycle. This is a wide-open race ... and it's a wonderful thing."
Speaking at the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida annual Women of Distinction luncheon in Tampa's A La Carte Event Pavilion, she said every candidate has faced serious challenges this year.
John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, "failed first," she said, "and was able to regroup. He's the Mick Jagger of this. You don't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need."
Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama, the remaining competitors for the Democratic nomination, "can get their sea legs," she said, but she expressed admiration for Clinton's ability to raise $35-million after 11 straight primary losses. (McCain raised $12-million during the same period, she said.)
Matalin said her husband, Democratic strategist James Carville, surmised that GOP "women of a certain age" may have put forth that money. "James thinks they said: 'We're not going to vote for her, but you're not going to diss her.' "
The Scouts' Women of Distinction honors went to Jean Giles Wittner of St. Petersburg, president of the Wittner Cos., philanthropist, volunteer and the longest serving member of the board of trustees at Eckerd College; Carol Jenkins Barnett of Lakeland, chairwoman of the Publix board of directors and president of Publix Super Markets Charities; Angeles Ferlita of Tampa, businesswoman and community advocate; and Marsha Starkey of Odessa, volunteer, environmentalist, philanthropist and community advocate.
Matalin also had praise for Pinellas icon Betty Sembler, who earlier this month received the Drug Enforcement Administration Foundation's highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, for her 30 years of fighting drug abuse.