Best of Tampa Bay
The beer garden on the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts waterfront was hopping with 11 microbreweries tapping samples at the Best of Tampa Bay. Cigar City, 7venth Sun, Coppertail Brewing, Two Henrys and the others "made a difference with attendance this year," said Rob Witmeyer, co-chairman of the 29th annual culinary fundraiser with his wife, Sara, and the Producers volunteer group. About 1,800 guests descended on 40 restaurants, caterers and vendors April 5 on the Riverwalk and inside the performing arts center. Neither Witmeyer would reveal a favorite, but Rob raved about "incredible scallops" from Dempsey's Steak House at Saddlebrook Resort and Sara loved the eggplant dish from Anaar Bar and Grill. Music filled the night, ending with dancing to Daniel B. Marshall tunes. The event added more than $100,000 to the $2 million-plus it previously raised for performing arts education at the Straz.
HCC Presidential Showcase
Insider baseball jokes preceded the presentation of the Hillsborough Community College Distinguished Alumni award to County Commissioner Ken Hagan at the annual Presidential Showcase benefit. It was a double play April 17 with HCC president Ken Atwater and Jake Hagan, 12, scoring community "home runs." Other highlights of the annual April 17 benefit were hearing about scholarship recipient Taya Green's study abroad and education major Melanie Rojas-Silva's story of surviving domestic abuse. Music professors Mark Switzer and Robert Winslow, and the HCC Ybor Jazz Band entertained 300 guests at the Renaissance Hotel International Plaza.
Tampa Palms Women's Club fashion lunch
On the runway: OASIS volunteers and Tampa Palms Women's Club members strutting spring fashions from a traveling trunk show from Accessories and More, an online women's boutique. Off the runway: many of the 120 guests buying those designs.
Ten percent of their purchases, plus raffle tickets sold at the April 10 luncheon at Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club, were donated to four charities: God's Pedal Power, House of Hope, Rich House, and Kids and Canines. OASIS, the original beneficiary of the annual event, received the live auction proceeds, said chairwoman Judy Alkow, to provide basic necessities to needy students in Tampa public schools.
Judeo-Christian Health Clinic Testimonial Dinner
Arts and education philanthropists Cornelia and Dick Corbett were so impressed with the work of the Judeo-Christian Health Clinic that when they learned they were going to receive an honor, they offered to sponsor the dinner. Farrukh Quraishi, the 1993 humanitarian of the year, presented the 2014 award to the couple April 10 at Higgins Hall. With 500 guests, including many volunteer doctors and nurses, WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor and dinner chairwoman Gayle Sierens and devoted emcee the Rev. John DeBevoise, more than $120,000 was raised that night to continue free treatment for the working poor, with no government or United Way funding.