The Abilities Foundation seems to have found an ideal venue and timing for its annual wine-tasting fundraiser, held for the second year at the Armed Forces History Museum in Largo on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
It was the 24th iteration of the event, where food ranged from seared scallops (Parkshore Grill), pulled-pork sliders (Mr. Bill's) and shrimp and grits (Ricky P's) to flourless chocolate cake from Emmanuel Roux. Also greeting guests was Lee Neal of Pic Pac Liquors, the foundation's longest-running retail supporter.
About 900 patrons, including president and chief executive Frank De Lucia and board president Richard Winning, packed the house for tours, food and drink, raising nearly $85,000 for programs that help disabled military veterans and other residents find employment and affordable housing.
Creating dreams and opportunities for leadership were the two threads common among presenters at the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg's annual Founders Club Breakfast, held in the grand ballroom of the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront.
Executive director Melissa Taylor talked about PAL's efforts to prevent crime and lower school dropout rates through art, music, athletics and character education.
Keynote speaker Bob Fortosis, director of athletics at Eckerd College, focused on four themes: establishing a relentless work ethic, exhibiting selflessness, using mistakes and losses to inspire deeper dedication, and recognizing that winning has little to do with a person's value.
In its 53 years, organizers said, the St. Petersburg organization has served more than 25,000 youngsters.
Entrepreneur Bill Edwards received the Circle of Excellence Award, created two years ago to honor longtime PAL supporter Ed Schatzman, who died a week before it was to have been presented to him.
It is impossible not to be moved by the narratives about children, many of whom have histories of abuse and neglect. The Heart Gallery of Pinellas and Pasco, launched in 2006, aims to find permanent homes for those youngsters, many of whom have been removed from their biological families but have not found "forever" families, as the organization calls them.
In a fundraising dinner held on Tropicana Field, guests heard several success stories and saw photo galleries showing more children who hope to be adopted through the program.
The event committee included Theo Prodromitis, Michelle Walker Nault, Tracey Locke, Jane Nunnelly and Merrill Stewart, plus Heart Gallery executive director Tiffany Faykus, community outreach manager Carol Hughes and exhibits manager Sarah Whitney.
The Junior League of St. Petersburg welcomed new members and honored two longtime community volunteers at the annual May dinner meeting at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.
Joann Barger received the Virginia Lazzara Sustainer of the Year Award, and Tiffany Webb received the Mailande Holland Barton Award, named for the league's first president.
Lisa Johni succeeds Samantha Nevins as league president.
The late Jim Fischer and Skip Carr, community leaders whose influence continues to this day, surely would be pleased at the efforts of their friends and family, who raised $50,000 at the ninth annual Fischer-Carr Birthday Bash presented by the Kiwanis Club of St. Petersburg.
The proceeds go to the Doorways Scholarship Program, which is part of the Mayor's Mentors and More Program in partnership with the Pinellas Education Foundation. Since 2004, the charity has sponsored 197 students, and this year's profits should pay for scholarships for an additional 11.
More than 200 guests attended the dinner event, including St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and former Mayor Rick Baker, both of whom had praise for Fischer and Carr, and for the scholarship program.
St. Petersburg College student Manny Martinez spoke about his appreciation as a Doorways scholarship recipient.
Bob Byelick was chairman of the event committee, which also included Jim Beach, John Biesinger, Worth Blackwell, Linda Carr, Kevin Carr, Mitch Cochran, Kathy Condon, Kris Fischer, Suzi Fischer, Paul Hardin, Ken Heretick, Al Karnavicius, Doug Lampe, Tom Masterson, Mike Mikurak, Mark Shames and Cathy Swanson.