The Countryside Rotary presented the titles of Mr. & Mrs. Countryside 2010 to Jim Laughlin and Debbie Struk at its awards event Monday afternoon at Synovus Bank in Clearwater. Since 1977, two Countryside residents have been named annually based on their community involvement.
McLaughlin, then a Motorola Semiconductor employee, moved into the Countryside area with his wife, Harriet, and sons Todd and Chad after a transfer to Clearwater in 1981.
His community involvement arose from his children's participation in sports programs. He coached basketball at St. Cecelia School and the Clearwater for Youth recreation program. He also coached several Countryside Lightning soccer teams.
McLaughlin was involved with Countryside Little League from 1982 through 1996, holding several positions on the league's board, including president, and also coached and umpired.
From 1982 to 1987, he worked with Countryside Soccer and the city of Clearwater to help develop the Countryside Misty Springs Complex and was a force behind the construction and management of the first concession stand, which included equipment storage and a press box. The stand was dedicated to him on opening day 1987.
He retired in December 2007 from Fairchild Semiconductor as global account manager.
McLaughlin and his family have been members of Countryside Country Club since 1981. He's been an active golfer there, was captain of the FSGA Interclub Team for 2010, and is on the golf committee.
Five years ago, in an effort to spread the joy of reading, Struk began putting books in coin laundries for children to read there or take home. Once word spread of her efforts, local groups began contributing to the program. The biggest response came from the Countryside High Florida Future Educators of America Chapter. Its members have staged book drives at the school for the past three years, bringing in more than 6,000 books.
The large volume of books enabled Struk to launch the Book Fairy Project, in which books are distributed to Pinellas County Health and Dental clinics, tutoring programs, after-school programs, PACE Center for Girls, Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranch, Suncoast Voices for Children Foster Care, and other organizations.
Struk organizes groups to participate annually in the Read Across America Celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday, as well as other classroom reading programs.
She has been a member of the GFWC North Pinellas Woman's Club for six years and has held many offices, including president in 2008.
She serves as leadership chair and as adviser for the GFWC Clearwater Juniorettes, a volunteer service and leadership group for high school girls. She also serves as membership chair at the district level.
Other projects include breast cancer fundraisers and raising scholarship money for young cancer survivors, Teen Dating 101 at Countryside High, work with the Haven Domestic Violence Shelter, and serving as captain for luncheons for Community Pride School and PACE Center for Girls.
Struk works in Youth Services at Tarpon Springs Public Library and also mentors at Tarpon Springs High.
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Jaclyn and Nicole Fosnacht of Largo, daughters of Verizon employee Daniel Fosnacht, are among 675 students nationwide who received scholarships for the 2010-11 academic year through Verizon's scholarship program for the children and dependents of company employees.
The students will each receive $5,000 annually toward college expenses. The scholarship program selects recipients based on financial need, academic achievement and extracurricular activities. Each scholarship is renewable for three years and has a total value of $20,000. The sisters attend the University of Florida.
Since 2001, the scholarship program has invested more than $39 million toward the college education of children and dependents of Verizon employees.
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