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TECO feted for pledge to center

TECO Energy Foundation was honored Thursday night as the CARES Business Partner of the Year.

TECO pledged $25,000 to the renovation of the Crescent Theater in Dade City, which opened in 1926 and hosted vaudeville shows and movies before closing in the early 1950s. CARES, which has provided services to the elderly in Pasco County for 31 years, intends to open the Crescent Community Enrichment Center in May following completion of the $1.2-million restoration project.

"The TECO Foundation pledge was our largest single contribution to the project," said CARES president and chief executive Bill Aycrigg.

"TECO is a huge supporter of the arts, and the old theater will be host to intergenerational programs around the arts."

Kay Hobbs, who provides financial planning for indigent seniors as part of a contract with CARES, received the annual Phil Mishkin Award during the banquet at Heritage Springs. She is the founder and executive director of Suncoast Life Solutions in New Port Richey.

Mishkin was an advocate for the elderly for several years before being elected to the Florida Legislature in 1990 at age 75. He died five years later and in 1997 CARES created the award to honor outstanding commitment to improving the lives of the elderly.

Also nominated this year were Mardi Fitzgerald, a volunteer coordinator for Hernando-Pasco Hospice; Dr. John Robert Hamill Jr., a dermatologist who provides care to indigents; Roxanne Haynes, who works for Adult Protective Services at the Florida Department of Children and Families; Elfrieda Rapp, a longtime volunteer for the Telephone Reassurance Program at the CARES office in Land O'Lakes; Dorothy Schmeling, a volunteer with the Pasco Sheriff's Office who counsels victims of domestic violence; and Madelaine Woodman, a longtime CARES volunteer and president of the Pasco Juvenile Detention Center advisory board.

The Mishkin Award is selected by a panel of four, Aycrigg said.

To accommodate the large number of CARES volunteers and supporters on the east side of the county, a second benefit dinner is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club. For information, call (727) 862-9291, (813) 996-6509 or (352) 523-1500.