Tampa Jewish Federation President's Dinner
Former Navy SEAL Adm. Eric T. Olson, recently retired as U.S. Special Operations Commander, could have divulged all sorts of national secrets at the Tampa Jewish Federation's annual President's Dinner. His lips stayed sealed, leaving CEO Gary Gould to deliver big news at the A La Carte Event Pavilion on Jan. 29.
First, he surprised the 630 guests by naming real estate developer David Scher the 2012 Tikkun Olam community volunteer "for leadership, lovingkindness and financial support," presenting him with a glass vessel by artist Duncan McClellan.
Next, Gould and federation president Sue Schoenbaum announced Scher and Sam Linsky will co-chair the JCC South Campus Project to turn Fort Homer Hesterly Armory into a Jewish community center. The loudest cheers came from SOK folks (south-of-Kennedy Boulevard) and city officials eager to revitalize the historic Howard Avenue building.
There was more applause for philanthropist Cornelia Corbett for a $50,000 donation to fund JCC preschool scholarships for children of all faiths. Barbershop quartet Special Arrangement led off with the Star-Spangled Banner; Cantor Riselle Bain followed with the Israeli national anthem.
Philanthropic Women of St. Joseph's Hospital
The voice was as familiar as Cronkite or Brokaw. That's because the guest speaker was former NBC Today Show (13 years) and Dateline NBC (12 years) anchor Jane Pauley, speaking at the Philanthropic Women of St. Joseph's Hospital luncheon at the Tampa Yacht Club on Feb. 2.
Ladies listened and laughed, relating to losing a car in the parking lot or confusing which parent shared a special moment with a child. Was it Pauley or her husband, Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau?
Pauley, 61, signed copies of her autobiography, Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue, a candid telling of living with bipolar disorder. She shared more details during a Q&A moderated by Gayle Sierens, WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor. Of midlife reinvention, Pauley says, "squandering my time is more frightening than failure."
To date, the women's group has raised and voted to allocate nearly $200,000 for women and children's care at St. Joseph's.
A Choice Affair Luncheon
Months ago, when organizers for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida set Feb. 2 for the annual A Choice Affair luncheon, they had no clue they'd be front-page news that day. (Funding partner Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation cut off, then reinstated, Planned Parenthood's national grants.) The outcry energized 220 guests to raise more than $10,000 during lunch at Maestro's at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. And that doesn't count Betty Castor's successful "ask" to match a challenge grant for electronic medical records.
As a thank you, those donors got to take home the centerpieces: colorful "condom" flowers in cans of a British pudding called Spotted Dick, and Hawaiian leis festooned with condoms.
University of South Florida College of Public Health dean Dr. Charles Mahan, sporting a condom-print necktie, shared statistics that make him really mad: The United Sates ranks last of 30 developed nations in infant and maternal mortality. And Florida is last in the nation in access to contraceptives.
USF Town & Gown winter luncheon
University of South Florida dance instructor/choreographer/inventor Merry Lynn Morris whirled gracefully in her prototype mobility chair at the Town & Gown Bring-A-Friend winter luncheon Jan. 25. The guests, all women, were fascinated by the "dancing wheelchair" Morris designed and patented with help from USF dance, engineering and physical therapy students. Similar to a Segway, the hands-free chair responds to shifts of body weight on sensors under the seat. Veterans are excited about the chair, too, she said, pirouetting in the chair in the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club ballroom.