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Rays Foundation grant will support childhood literacy

The Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County Inc. has received a financial boost from the Rays Baseball Foundation in the form of a $5,000 Community Fund Grant that will support the coalition's Ready to Read program, which focuses on early literacy.

"The Rays Baseball Foundation supports many deserving organizations in the Tampa Bay area and we are honored to be selected this year," said Janet Chapman, Early Learning Coalition's chief executive officer.

The coalition is one of 17 nonprofit organizations that received grants totaling $100,000 from the Rays Baseball Foundation.

To ensure that programs and services are available to assist young children during their formative years, the coalition's new initiative, Ready to Read, furnishes high-quality, age-appropriate books to the community's most needy children and engages parents in actively promoting literacy in their homes.

"This partnership with the Rays highlights the importance of early literacy in our community," Chapman said. "These funds allow us share the joy of reading with young children throughout Pinellas County."

• • •

For 100 years, music, flowers and family have been a part of Edna Anderson's life, and her recent birthday party at Rosewood House II, where she's been a resident since 2012, was no exception.

Attended by family, staff and residents, the centenarian sang along with the guest entertainer and still had enough breath to blow out the candles on her cake, adorned with spring flower confections.

She was born May 10, 1913, in Brooklyn, N.Y., the only child of lithographer Henry Finsterer and his wife, Vinta.

As a child, she developed a love for flowers and enjoyed singing in the choir of St. George's Church in Manhattan.

She met her future husband, Walter Anderson, on Shelter Island. At that time the island, located at the eastern end of New York's Long Island, was dotted with summer camps; single-family homes were just starting to be built.

He worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. and she was employed as a legal secretary until 1945, when the couple's first daughter was born. A second daughter followed.

In 1973, the Andersons moved to Clearwater's Village on the Green, where Edna planted flowers, sang in her church choir and volunteered for 30 years in the gift shop at Mease Dunedin Hospital.

Her husband passed away in 1986 after 43 years of marriage.

Smiling is a way of life for the centenarian, who attributes her longevity to daily walks and the birth of each new baby into the family.

She has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren with a fifth on the way.

• • •

NOPE, the Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education Task Force, Pinellas Chapter recently presented scholarships to three high school seniors during award ceremonies at Dunedin, East Lake and Largo high schools.

Scholarships were open to seniors who had completed an application that included a written essay and video or audio presentation; submitted a reference letter from a teacher or school sponsor; and had been accepted to a college or university.

Dunedin High's Alex Lebhar, an active member of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), was awarded a $500 scholarship that will contribute to his education at the University of Central Florida.

In Alex's reference letter, Dunedin High's school resource officer Deputy Jim Miller stated that "students like Alex make my job as a school resource officer satisfying and relieving because I know he does the right thing and goes beyond what's expected of him."

Meagan Militello, president of the SADD club at East Lake High, received a $750 scholarship that will enable her to continue her education at Florida Atlantic University.

Deputy Kurt Frazho, East Lake High's school resource officer, was complimentary in his reference letter. "I have worked with Meagan and she has no problems in or out of school and she is a fine example of what a SADD member should be."

Pooja Madhvani, a student at Largo High, was given a $1,000 scholarship, allowing her to continue her education at St. Petersburg College.

"I am impressed with Pooja's dedication to education and her exemplary representation of integrity," wrote Largo High English teacher Denis Soffos. "She remains an active member of the Live Free Club, encouraging others to remain drug and alcohol free."

Conceptualized in 2002 by Palm Beach County community leaders and families who had lost loved ones to drug-related deaths, NOPE became a 501c-3 nonprofit organization in 2004 and changed its name to NOPE Task Force Inc. Its mission includes education, support for families, treatment support, and advocacy.

Mail Good For You items to Nova Beall, Tampa Bay Times, 1130 Cleveland St., Suite 100 A, Clearwater, FL 33756; fax to (727) 445-4221; or email

Rays Foundation grant will support childhood literacy 06/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, June 7, 2013 2:06pm]
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