Pinellas business briefs

Harbor Retirement Associates recently hosted its 2012 annual Leadership Conference Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, welcoming more than 100 employees and family members to its headquarters in Vero Beach. The three-day event included leadership training and skill-building exercises and culminated in an awards celebration at Coste d'Este Beach Resort, which recognized 41 outstanding achievements among the firm's team members at every level of job classification and volunteers.

HarborChase of Palm Harbor, a senior care community offering assisted living, skilled nursing and Memory Care program, brought home six awards for outstanding achievement, including the "Best Customer Service" award, which was accepted by Rose Pietras, executive director.

Awards to individuals at HarborChase included: "Outstanding Coach" to Shannon Morelli, director of resident care; "Most Valuable Player" to Bernarda "Gracie" Vargas, cook; "Sales Team of the Year" to Laurie Venden and Rose Pietras, sales and marketing; and "Key to Excellence" to John Soucy, director of maintenance.

Additionally, Debbie and Tom Weischadle were honored as "Family Partnership Volunteer of the Year" for their volunteer efforts at HarborChase.

"With 17 communities spread out throughout the eastern United States, we enjoy bringing our leadership team together and celebrating the talents that our associates share with residents every day," said Marc Vorkapich, president.

The award categories ranged from "Community of the Year" to "Most Valuable Player," which included cooks, housekeepers, sales associates and volunteers from the various communities.

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On behalf of the members of Trinity Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dr. Dennis Reid accepted the first-place award for the 2012 Elementary Business Partner of the Year from the Pinellas Education Foundation and Pinellas County Schools at its Evening of Excellence event Feb. 28 at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Trinity was nominated for the award by Skycrest Elementary School. In 2010, members of Trinity began helping in the cafeteria at Skycrest during the first weeks of school. Many volunteers were then assigned to classrooms and began tutoring and mentoring students, logging more than 600 volunteer hours each year. Trinity members fulfilled teachers' wish lists with supplies valued at $5,000 and made financial donations to the school of more than $4,954. Trinity also has provided free use of its facility for school concerts.

Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2001 Rainbow Drive, Clearwater, has renewed its commitment to serving the students and staff at Skycrest for the upcoming year.

Other award winners included Stephanie Whitaker, fifth-grade ESOL teacher at Dunedin Elementary, who was recognized with the 2012 Outstanding Educator of the Year award for her student-engaging instruction and use of learning communities within the classroom. Whitaker earned the award for her creative teaching approach, a commitment to students and families, efforts to improve the education profession and dedication to inspiring and engaging children.

Each year, business partners are selected and honored by the Pinellas Education Foundation at its annual Evening of Excellence. Three winners from Pinellas will represent the county at the state level in the elementary, secondary and district-wide categories.

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Dunedin City Commissioner Ron Barnette recently donated $500 to help provide scholarships for metal-working and welding classes at the Institute for Creative Arts, following through with a campaign promise to return his commissioner's salary back into the community.

The institute, 968 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, offers classes in metal sculpture, blacksmithing, copper foil stained glass, knife-making and welding.

Pinellas business briefs 03/15/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 15, 2012 6:28pm]

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