Mary Jane Martinez Cottage to help girls
The MJM Admiration Society — that's the Mary Jane Martinez fan club — surrounded the former first lady of the city and the state as Hillsborough County commissioners dedicated a cottage for runaway girls at the Family and Aging Services' Lake Magdalene campus April 12. The Mary Jane Martinez Cottage is a temporary home for up to 12 girls, ages 10 to 17, as they get vital help before returning to their families.
Martinez, a King High librarian and student mentor for 20 years, founded the Youth and Family Foundation of Florida, doubled the number of shelters across the state for troubled youth and created the first toll-free runaway hotline in the nation. More fans and family joined the celebration that followed at the Tampa Yacht Club, hosted by her so-proud husband, former Gov. Bob Martinez.
Can it be 25 years since Sally Lowry Baldwin and the late Mason M. Lykes gathered a flock of friends for an outdoor, black-tie dinner at the Lowry Park Zoo? They called it Karamu, a Swahili word for "party," and since then, have raised $3 million for animal care and educational programs. Saturday's gala celebrated the silver anniversary with a "Magic of the Silver Screen" theme, honoring past chairwomen as stars on a Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"Greatest experience ever," said Heidrun Divers, co-chair with husband, Alan Divers, whose animal artwork adorned 12-foot banners decorating the Safari Lodge, along with silhouettes of iconic film stars and classic, black-and-white film clips. The couple cheered when Alan's vivid elephant portrait was auctioned for $14,000 to David Seldin, helping the event net $200,000.
Board chairman Bob Thomas squeezed in some business, surprising former Gov. Bob Martinez by naming a garden in the new animal hospital for him. Bwana patrons party hosts Tready and Thayer Smith, and seven Zawadi party-givers, including Jen and Michael Palermo, Sandy Callahan and Kristy Parker and Shawn and Susan Harrison got big thanks, as did honorary chairwoman Susan Lykes Mueller.
Zoo caterer Ovations' seafood appetizer on plates of molded ice was cool but sloshy. Filet of beef tenderloin with lobster tail succeeded as Mainstream Band kept the 440 guests dancing.
Next up: Karamu 2014 co-chairs are Toni Everett and daughter Henderson Lee, followed by Paola Schifino and Karessa Montgomery in 2015.
HCC Presidential Showcase
Sasha Sierra's outstanding speech created quite a buzz at the 11th annual Hillsborough Community College Presidential Showcase where president Ken Atwater proudly featured talented choir, stage band and culinary students. Sasha is among 18 percent of HCC students who are the first in their families to attend college, learned the 330 guests at the April 11 dinner at the Marriott Waterside, which benefits the First Generation Scholarship Fund.
"My scholarship changed everything," said Eric Bailey, 2013 Distinguished Alumnus, as a video depicted his trajectory to founding partner of CapTrust Advisors, managing client assets of more than $13 billion. Richard Arena, Robert Graves and Vinny Tafuro were named 2013 Outstanding Alums. Tampa General chief executive officer James Burkhart accepted the Champion of Education award for providing clinical opportunities for HCC's medical career programs.
Great to see former HCC president Gwen Stephenson looking well, and to send off Nancy Watkins, who has left the board of trustees after 14 years.
Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Woman of Influence luncheon
Hair: natural. Heels: 4 inches, at least. Eyelashes: fabulous. Viola Davis kept it real, raw and revealing as she addressed the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce's annual Women of Influence Luncheon at A La Carte Event Pavilion on April 10. The acclaimed actor took 880 guests on what she titled her "The Hero's Path," from birth in a sharecropper's house on a South Carolina plantation to growing up in abject poverty to studying at Juilliard to an Oscar nomination for The Help. Her definition of a hero: "One who infuses life with hope, love and joy to share with the world."
Lunch chairwoman Kathy Werner introduced selection committee chairwoman Robin DeLaVerne to announce Judy Lisi the 2013 Woman of Influence, honored for effecting a $100 million theatrical arts impact as president of the Straz Center. As a Tony Award voter, Lisi made Ms. Davis' day when she said she has twice cast a ballot for her stagecraft.