The harrowing stories by survivors of domestic violence make for a tough start to a day, but 500 guests at the 16th annual Peace Breakfast, held in the St. Petersburg Coliseum, were profoundly moved as they listened to "Three Faces of CASA." Keynote speaker John Stevenson's story was that of the killing of his mother by his stepfather in May.
Three survivors described their ordeals and the support they received from Community Action Stops Abuse. Audrey Mabrey, whose husband set fire to her in 2009, received the Victory over Violence Award from its namesake John Stross. Honored in September with a $50,000 Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero Award, she has chosen to give much of that money to support CASA's Peacemaker Program.
Additional program participants included CASA executive director Linda Osmundson, development chair Jim Albright, mistress of ceremonies Lissette Campos and Hillels of the Florida Suncoast executive director Rabbi Ed Rosenthal.
St. Petersburg's Christmas Belles celebrated a half-century of supporting the Christmas Toy Shop at their annual coffee, held in Donna Nagelsen's waterfront home.
The yearly fundraiser is a treat not only for guests, who arrive bearing toys and wearing their holiday best, but also for needy Pinellas County children who are the beneficiaries of the donations.
The 23 Belles prepare endless sweet and savory treats for the event, including perennial favorites: open-face tomato and cucumber sandwiches and cheese bonbons.
And this year, patrons received a commemorative favor, a ceramic bell carved by Beth Morean and handcrafted and glazed by Valerie Scott Knaust and Martin Bimler. The artists are associated with the Morean Arts Center for Clay.
The full complement of 2012 Belles are Mary Wyatt Allen, Marion Ballard, Jane Beam, Lennie Bennett, Lynn Cox, Liz Curry, Tina Douglass, Ashley Gairing, Kally Harvard, Rosemary Hempel, Susan Hicks, Judy Holland, Anne Long, Laurie Lowe, Evelyn Moorefield, Glenn Mosby, Carol Piper, Maria Rawls, Nancy Rutland, Iris Salzer, Betty Shamas, Judy Stanton and Patsy Wheeler.
Again, in the spirit of the season, the St. Anthony's Hospital Foundation hosted the "Sprinkles!" interactive cookie decorating class at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. The hotel's executive chef Mark Heimann and pastry chef Michael Morlan guided 75 guests with tips for decorating sugar and gingerbread cookies, and eight youngsters from Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Pinellas County joined in the fun.
The event was a fundraiser for the Susan Sheppard McGillicuddy Breast Center at St. Anthony's Hospital.
Guests included center medical director Dr. Claudia Bundschu, radiologist Dr. Joanne Cressman, clinical coordinator Sonja Ancrile, Sister Susan McGillicuddy, Elaine Mikurak, Val Rankin, Mary Ellen Conte, Mary Hilton Cross, Susanna Bellafante, Noreen Hodges and Bettye Black.