Tuesday, April 24, 2018
News Roundup

Hooper: Tampa gala to honor Hispanic leader Matilda Garcia's many achievements

Jennifer Whelihan can't forget the first time she met Matilda Garcia.

She walked into a Hispanic Professional Women's Association luncheon and just the sight of Garcia, decked out in a purple head-to-toe outfit and sipping a martini, left an indelible impression.

"I thought, 'Wow, that lady is impressive,' " Whelihan said of Garcia, who turned 94 on Thursday. "She has something about her that you want to know, an aura. You want to be around her. She's what we're all trying to become.

"When she shows up, everybody's excited. They say, 'Matilda!' "

Garcia will show up when the Hispanic Professional Women's Association holds its annual scholarship banquet tonight at the DoubleTree Westshore. Organizers have themed the event "The Golden Latina Awards," and more than 15 leaders will be feted with red carpet treatment. Visit hpwatampa.org for information.

Of the leaders, perhaps none has been more influential than Garcia. A Hispanic representative with the Social Security Administration for more than 40 years, Garcia became an activist in her personal life by advocating for the underprivileged, especially immigrants.

The FBI honored her with its Director's Community Leadership award in 2009, noting that she has been recognized for her efforts involving human rights, housing, schools, civic groups, government and the elderly.

"It makes me feel good to help people," Garcia said. "I belong to about 20 associations, and they all have 'Hispanic' in the name except for the United Way and the Salvation Army. Of all of them, HPWA is one of my favorites."

Whelihan, the association president, describes Garcia as a mentor and an icon. She will receive the association's Lifetime Achievement Award and the event also will feature the Matilda Martini, a mix of raspberry vodka (or gin), triple sec and a splash of cranberry.

The association also will sell special martini glasses as a fundraiser for its scholarship program.

"I'm known for my love of martinis," Garcia explained Tuesday. "I even have shoes and pocketbooks with martinis on them. After World War II, we were celebrating the troops coming home and I didn't know what to drink to salute them. I chose a martini because my maiden name is Martini. Since then I've been leaning toward martinis."

Shortly after that, this community started leaning on Garcia. It's great to see her honored and it's also great to see this association striving to nurture the next generation.

Whelihan, owner of J.Whela Productions, a marketing and business communications firm, and an adjunct professor at the University of Tampa, said her association focuses on professional development and giving its members the tools they need to not only succeed in the workplace but to become leaders.

"We see more and more women attaining higher education degrees," Whelihan said. "But when it comes to seeing more women in leadership roles, it's a work in progress — especially when it comes to minority women. We know what we have to offer, but we have to communicate that, stand up and be recognized."

The association also wants to keep its Hispanic culture intact — members like to say they do business with a hug — but Whelihan promises a diverse audience at its gala tonight.

"To build the community, you need people from different backgrounds to help you."

That's a sentiment everyone should salute. And in this case, with a martini.

That's all I'm saying.

Comments
Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

Days before graduation, crash kills Lakewood High senior, injures two others

ST. PETERSBURG — Caps and gowns were in the future for Bryson Welton-Williams and his two friends.Then came Tuesday’s horrific car crash.The three 18-year-old Lakewood High School seniors drove off from school a few minutes early, just 22 days away f...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic celebration

Carlos Gomez says he was guilty of only one thing in Sunday’s epic celebration

BALTIMORE – Carlos Gomez is perfectly willing to explain the specific elements that went into his epic celebration tour around the bases following Sunday's walkoff home run.The bat flip and raised arms were his initial reaction to how well he h...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Career Q&A: Disillusioned with grind of telecommute

Career Q&A: Disillusioned with grind of telecommute

Q: I have become very disillusioned with my telecommuting job. I accepted this position about a year ago because I liked the idea of working from home. However, I now have so many assignments that I can barely keep up. I was recently given a huge pro...
Updated: 1 hour ago
ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway's off-field struggles continue.ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday evening that Callaway tested positive for marijuana at the NFL's scouting combine.Former Florida WR Antonio Callaway -- who some cons...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning opens second round Saturday; time depends on opponent

Lightning opens second round Saturday; time depends on opponent

Game 1 of the Lightning's Eastern Conference semifinals begins Saturday at Amalie Arena regardless of whether the Maple Leafs or Bruins win Wednesday's first-round series Game 7 to advance.Still in question is the start time.If the Bruins advanc...
Updated: 2 hours ago
DNA, new plea set man free 17 years after Tampa murder

DNA, new plea set man free 17 years after Tampa murder

TAMPA — Almost 17 years ago, Dwight DuBose was condemned to spend the rest of his life in prison for a murder he says he didn’t commit.On Tuesday morning, he pleaded guilty to the crime in exchange for the promise that he would go free.DuBose, 45, wa...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Troopers seek driver who ran from fatal crash in Trinity

Troopers seek driver who ran from fatal crash in Trinity

TRINITY — The Florida Highway Patrol said it is looking for a driver who ran from the scene of a fatal three-vehicle crash that took place Tuesday afternoon on State Road 54 at Duck Slough Boulevard.The crash took place at about 2:33 p.m., closing do...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pinellas County commits $41.7 million to Blue Jays Stadium

Pinellas County commits $41.7 million to Blue Jays Stadium

DUNEDIN — The Pinellas County Commission pulled the final trigger Tuesday on dedicating $41.7 million in bed taxes for upgrades to the Toronto Blue Jays’ stadium and spring training facilities, a pledge that amounts to covering more than half of the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Hernando County to start neutering feral cats

Hernando County to start neutering feral cats

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County will soon become a more cat-friendly community.The County Commission voted 4-0 Tuesday in favor of a policy to trap, neuter and vaccinate feral cats and return them to the wild. They hope to reduce the number of cats eut...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays-Orioles postponed, doubleheader planned for May 12

Rays-Orioles postponed, doubleheader planned for May 12

UPDATE, 6:06: The Rays will stay in rotation, so Faria will slide back a day and pitch Wednesday, vs. Cobb, and Archer will get an extra day's rest and pitch Thursday, against RHP Dylan Bundy.Also of note, Cash said 3B Matt Duffy (right hamstring str...
Updated: 4 hours ago