Supporters of the West Central Florida Council Boy Scouts of America honored Maureen Donovan-Dobiesz and Norm Dobiesz with the Distinguished Citizens Award, presented at the annual banquet held in the Palm Court Ballroom at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg.
The couple, founders of the Phoenix Venture Philanthropy Foundation, have supported Scouting in numerous ways. Sons Aaron and Casey are Eagle Scouts; hence the name of the family's boat, Double Eagle. The couple started Sea Scout Ship 912 and have established a scholarship for women who participate in Scouting.
In addition, they contribute to programs at Bayfront Medical Center, CASA, Canterbury School of Florida, Eckerd College, Tampa Bay Watch and the YWCA.
Kristin Rutland Reese presented the $5,000 Hubert "Bud" Rutland III Scholarship to Skyler Ford, an Eagle Scout who attends St. Petersburg College. Laura Salmen and Kelly Blake received $5,000 Maureen Donovan-Dobiesz Scholarships. Salmen, a student at SPC, has been active in Scouting with her four children; Blake is an Explorer with Post 952, sponsored by the St. Petersburg Fire Department, and also attends SPC. Recognized with a $5,000 award in recognition of Scouting's centennial was Bryce Rodgers, the first Sea Scout in Florida to attain Quartermaster status.
The Dobieszes also presented awards to Bayfront Medical Center, Canterbury School of Florida, Eckerd College, Sea Scouts and Tampa Bay Watch.
Mary Gardiner Evertz, Dr. Al Geiger and Dr. Bob Kropp were co-chairs for the event, which raised more than $100,000 for urban Scouting programs in Pinellas County. Other members of the event committee were Jeffrey Cowley, William Davis, Lucas DeVicente, Joe Fleece, John Green Jr., Jim Henderson, Julie Langevin, Dr. Chris Nelson Jr. and Brian Thornton.
The news this month was bleak: Charitable giving is down 11 percent on the national level, and numerous local charities have seen even more severe reductions in contributions.
For organizations like the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, tough financial times represent both challenges and opportunities. At its annual Soup's On benefit, more than 350 people brought nonperishable food and gave financial gifts. The luncheon, which is offered to raise awareness of hunger in Pinellas County, took place in the campus activity center at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.
Singer and songwriter Mindy Simmons offered entertainment and an inspirational message. Margin of Excellence Soup Can Awards went to Barbara McWicker, First Presbyterian Church, Lutheran Church of the Cross, Eckerd College and Valpak.
Norm and Mirella Smith were co-chairs for the event; guests included Free Clinic board chair Beth Houghton and her husband, Scott Wagman; Bronson Alexander; Mary Wyatt Allen; Marshall and Diana Craig; Jillian Doyle; Bill Heller; Bill and Hazel Hough; Al May; Greg and Kathy Matthews; Elise Minkoff; Mike Murphy; Bill Probst; and Melissa Seixas.
The occasion was Dr. Reggie Ligon's 60th birthday, and more than 175 guests celebrated with him and his wife, Mendee, in their St. Petersburg home, where the gardens became a black-and-white Arabian Nights setting that included belly dancers as entertainment.
The gifts, however, went to charities, including LEAF, the Legacy Entertainment and Arts Foundation begun by their daughter, Shannon, to promote youth education and mentoring support. Additional beneficiaries of the fundraiser are St. Petersburg's TASCO teen program, the recording arts program at the Royal Theater Boys & Girls Club, the student fund at Meharry Medical College and the Hearts for Haiti mission program.
Guests included Judge Perry Little, Dr. Joseph and Monique Jackson, Ron and Mary Ronz, Del and Stephanie Goforth, Ed and Sylvia Ameen, Jerry and Ruth Bell, Dr. David and Mary Jo Baras, Larry and Pam Williams, Dr. Bennett and Denise Smith, Kay Wells, Dr. William and Joyce Marsh, Vincent and Karen Lawrence and Dr. Fred and Marlene Guerrier.