BRANDON — When Mark Proctor held up his cell phone for friend Betty Jo Tompkins to hear the reaction of over 100 guests at Center Place in Brandon she could not believe it.
At the annual Community Roundtable awards dinner Wednesday, 2012 recipient Tammy Holmberg announced Tompkins as the 2013 winner of the Alice B. Tompkins Community Service award. Because of recent medical problems, Betty Jo Tompkins lay in a hospital bed, unable to attend the event. Kathy Curry accepted the award in her absence.
"Do you hear that applause? That's all for you", Proctor told Tompkins. "No really—you won the award."
Since 1975, the roundtable has given the annual award to an individual that exemplifies service in the community. Only former award recipients may vote on the new selection.
It is named in memory of Alice B. Tompkins, a former Brandon News editor and organizer of Brandon's Fourth of July parade, which is now the largest one in the state.
Coincidentally, the two Tompkins are unrelated.
Betty Jo Tompkins serves in various leadership roles with the Hillsborough County 4-H Foundation, Florida 4-H Foundation, Hillsborough County Fair, Hillsborough County Soil and Conservation District, Florida Conservation District, Association of Florida Conservation Districts and the Brandon South Rotary Club and Rotary Club/Rotary International.
She worked as a team leader in India for a Rotary group study exchange project that conducted polio immunizations and medical camps and visited schools and businesses. She later presented over 100 programs on the social, educational and economic aspects of India.
She is also on the Hillsborough Community College President's Advisory Board and serves as a judge for the Strawberry Festival and the Florida State Fair.
Last year, Tompkins made an unsuccessful bid for a state House seat.
Later in the evening, Community Roundtable vice president Janine Nickerson presented the Maureen Krzanowski Scholarship to Strawberry Crest senior Zora Millerleile.
Nickerson said the award was named in honor of Krzanowski, a former Community Roundtable volunteer who had a passion for foster children and the ability to get people to come to events like the awards dinner.
"She cared very much about the organization," Nickerson said. "She was very much a momma bear and the table was her cub."
Roundtable president Sam Creasman announced the Non- Profit of the Year as the Brandon Service League. He spoke of the humble nature of those that regularly give to the community in a variety of ways.
"These are not flash in the pan people who just come to pick up awards," Creasman said.
He said they were the kind of people that worked hard throughout the many organizations that helped Brandon.
Keynote speaker Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn gave a vision of a new city that would attract more residents and commerce with the completion of major projects like the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa scheduled to be finished in 16 months.
"Downtown is more alive than it's ever been before," Buckhorn said.
He also said that Tampa would live up to the expectations of a great American city, emphasizing it diversity. He closed with one final reminder to all residents.
"All of us have an obligation to leave this place in better shape than when it was given to us."
Belinda Kramer can be reached at [email protected]