Vera Chenkin's talents as an artist and winner were evident in the 1930s, when, as a fourth-grader, her painting of a family of vegetables won her a $2 gold piece.
Chenkin smiles as she tells the end of the story, "It was when President Roosevelt was asking for all gold to be turned in to the government, and my parents made me give it up."
One thing Chenkin never did give up is her winning attitude. Its in everything she does. And she does a lot.
Chenkin recently was named Women of the Year by the Pasco East Charter Chapter of the American Business Women's Association. The selection is based on the member's achievements in their field, education, community activities, and participation in the association. Chenkin was present at the association's second meeting in 1985 and has since maintained a seven-year perfect attendance record.
Susan Burgess, executive director of the Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce and membership chairman in the Pasco East Charter Chapter of the ABWA, says Chenkin participates in all the chapter projects.
"Vera is one very giving and talented lady," Burgess says, "and there is nothing you could ask that she would not do and she has been a very good friend to me."
Chenkin also has been a friend to the arts.
Her father, Joseph Maturo, was a top movie poster illustrator in New York City, and his creative talents have been passed on to his daughter. She attended the National Academy of Arts and the Art Students League in New York City. After working in the advertising field with the Landau Agency in Miami, she opened an art and picture-framing shop 26 years ago on U.S. 301 in south Zephyrhills.
When not busy at the shop, she would serve as a volunteer in the Pasco School system, where she taught art for eight years at St. Anthony School in San Antonio and two years each at Cox Elementary in Dade City and at Zephyrhills Elementary. She also is a founding member of the Zephyrhills Art Club.
Many people also know her from carnivals and fund-raisers where she would donate her time doing art sketches. She has worked with needy people and mentally handicapped students, and has served as a guardian for elderly people who have no family to help out.
Chenkin's son, Jim, is her partner at The Gallery. They provide custom-framing for all types of artwork, including needlework, and customers can choose from an endless selection of moldings and matting materials. Visitors also can view Chenkin's work and the work of other artists in The Gallery's display area.
While there, you'll see some of Chenkin's teddy bear and stilllife pastels, but make sure to look for her winning vegetable poster. She laughs when she looks back on her fourth-grade promotion of only eating vegetables. She's been married for 43 years to Alan, a vegetarian.
Zephyrhills chamber names officers
The Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce announces new officers and directors for the 1992-93 year. They are William Back, president; Jerry Sterner, vice president; Sandra Pricher, secretary; and Mary A. Harman, treasurer.
Chamber directors are Vicki Elkins, Harman, John E. Heneson, Steve Herman, Dr. Buddy Hollyfield, Robert "Bob" Lang, Jean Murphy, Pency Owens, Sandra Pricher, Dean Ridings, Roxann Shannon, Sterner, Vicki Burgess, James Childers, Christina Earl, Cynthia Easton, Greg First, Terry Hilferding, Susan Morrow, Mickey McPhee, Sue Reffit, James Stalnaker, Gene Whitfield and Don Whitworth.
The officers and directors will meet with chamber members at today's business card exchange sponsored by CARES Inc. Adult Day Care is located at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church, 5855 16th St., Zephyrhills.
Oct. 13 is the deadline for reservations for the chamber's annual membership roundup and awards banquet scheduled Oct. 20 at Hillcrest RV Resort. Tickets are $16.50 and will include a prime rib dinner and entertainment.
Pregnancy center to have open house
The Pregnancy Support Services Center is having an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday. The Dade City center is for women who are in need of maternity clothes, baby clothes, baby furniture and other items. It also provides counseling services or a place where a woman can come and have someone to talk to.
Normal operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Volunteers always are needed to staff the center. People interested are asked to call Margaret Salomon at (904) 521-3579 evenings.
The center is sponsored by local Catholic churches and is at 2007 W State Road 52 in Jack's Air Conditioning Center. The phone number at the center is (904) 521-6682.