Amy Scherzer’s Diary: Weekly Wrap-Up of the Tampa Social Scene

Published January 29
Updated February 15

To Life gala

Israeli curator Avner Avraham recapped Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann for more than 700 guests at the Florida Holocaust Museum’s annual To Life: Honoring the Past — Empowering the Future gala benefit. The former Mossad agent spoke with Tampa Bay Times publisher Paul Tash about the fascinating spy mission that brought the Nazi war criminal to justice, as seen in the exhibit on display through July. The six candle-centerpieces on each table at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay honored the 6 million Jews murdered.

Also Saturday, museum volunteer Sandy Mermelstein and director Elizabeth Gelman presented four Loebenberg Humanitarian awards to Holocaust survivors John and Toni Rinde, Lisl Schick and Mary Wygodski, "once victims now thriving and productive role models…"

Guests heard from Gayle Sierens, honorary chair of the Anne Frank awards program and former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor who helped start Law Enforcement and Society training at the museum. Co-chairs Tammy Li and Anita Treiser expect the dinner to net $650,000 to further the museum’s mission fighting hate and bigotry.

Be Mine: You’re the One

Grease was the word at Be Mine, a peppy rally for the touring Heart Gallery of Tampa display of hard-to-place foster children seeking "forever families." Co-chairs Julia Knapp and Caroline Wright used the movie’s Rydell High class of ’59 characters Sandy and Danny singing "You’re the One That We Want" to entertain 500 supporters Feb. 8 at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club. The crowd, far younger than the classic cars parked outside, dressed in poodle skirts and leather jackets for carnival rides and games, corn dogs, a kissing booth and more. Patel Conservatory theater students sang and bopped as cheerleaders, jocks and nerds.

"I’ve seen the Heart Gallery work more than 500 times," said executive director Jesse Miller. "There’s no such thing as an unadoptable child." Many stayed late to dance at the Rydell High prom after-party.

NAACP Freedom
Fund dinner

NAACP president Yvette Lewis planned an action-packed Freedom Fund dinner for 900 influential guests and numerous political candidates working the Hilton Downtown Tampa ballroom Feb. 8. News anchor Rod Carter of WFLA-Ch. 8 and Spelman College freshman Destinee Filmor emceed as Kathy Henry received the president’s award and both Tom Scarritt and County Commissioner Les Miller earned Freedom Fighter awards for their efforts to get a Confederate statue relocated.

Hillsborough school superintendent Jeff Eakins announced the LEAD art contest winners, all inspired by local black leaders. Michael Dozier was named a multi-generational Living Bridge. Six Unsung Heroes were introduced: Mary M. James, Rechi Butler, Carl "Ice Cream" Waltower, Thaddeus Bullard, Pastor Tom Jones and Connie Burton. Rev. Larry Mouton Jr. gave a powerful keynote speech.

Governor’s Day Luncheon at the Florida State Fair

Consistent, diplomatic, genuine, loyal and visionary, those were the adjectives Robin Delavergne used to introduce 90th Civitan of the Year, Chuck Sykes, CEO of Sykes Enterprises, chosen by a peer review panel and revealed Feb. 8 at the Governor’s Day Luncheon at the Florida State Fair.

"I love this town," Sykes said, shocked to see his family emerge from their hiding place. "I know we’re a city but I say town because it’s such a wonderful community. We’re not really cliquish… you don’t need a pedigree. You just need to want to make a difference."

                     
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