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Published Oct. 31, 2008

Desire to help Haitians devastated by four hurricanes in three weeks united the bay area's French-speaking community at an Oct. 22 benefit at Chez Bryce. The French-American Business Council of West Florida and the Haitian Association Foundation of Tampa Bay organized the fete, drawing nearly 100 guests for dinner prepared by Chef Bryce Whittlesey.

The money is crucial, said Haitian consul Laurent Prosper of Orlando, as the country is desperate after the summer storms destroyed homes, schools, shops, roads and bridges. Lawyer Guilene Theodore, president of the Haitian Association Foundation of Tampa Bay, said Rotary clubs in Haiti will receive $20 out of every $45 dinner ticket "and will make sure the money gets to the right place."

Saxophonist Eric Darius, 25, a senior at the University of South Florida, strolled the restaurant's courtyard adding his jazzy vibe. He was happy to donate his talent because his father, Jean-Serge Darius, is from Port-au-Prince.

"I've never been there, but hope to visit my aunts and uncles someday," Eric said. DJJean-Robert Clermont, also Haitian, donated his time and equipment.

Jean-Charles Faust, FRAMCO president and honorary consul of France, welcomes more donations. Checks to Rotary District 6950 Charitable Foundation can be mailed to FRAMCO, 2744 Summerdale Drive, Clearwater, FL 33761.

Exchange Club's Jimbo Kynes Award

"We're a two-party system, and this is the Fall one," quipped Charlie Eldredge, apast president of the Exchange Club, as the group gathered in the University Club dining room.

Prominent Tampa businessmen founded the club 85 years ago to socialize safely during Prohibition, among other reasons. Women were allowed to join its Who's Who roster in the 1960s, Eldredge said. And during dinner Oct. 24, members passed the gavel to the first African-American president, retired banker Bob Samuels.

"The world is changing ... this room reflects the future," Samuels said, thanking them "for the opportunity to turn this organization upside down."

Other official business included a nod to 50-year member Dick Reeves and four new directors: Bill Starkey, John Kynes, Graeme Fraser and Joe Stagi, "which is a complete surprise to them." said outgoing president Neil McMullen.

The Bob Adams award for dumbest questions went to Fred Turpin;Rocky Klein was named best dressed and Samuels gave himself the prize for recruiting the most new members.

Of the 125 guests, the spotlight shone brightest on Jimbo Kynes Awardee Sally Hill "for making the community a better place to live." She accepted for her husband, Lewis Hill III, as well, who was off hunting pheasant.

Accounting for their lengthy list of volunteer work, especially Boy Scouts and the Red Cross, Sally said, "We always work for different organizations so we can help more people. But we always back each other up."

Florida Orchestra Guild Tune-Up Party

A spectacular view and sunny breeze helped president Jan McCarthy entice members of the Florida Orchestra Guild of Tampa to the annual Tune- Up Party at Joann Guagliardo's bayfront home on Davis Islands. Over coffee and pastries in the backyard patio Oct. 7, the women learned of upcoming activities designed to generate funds, such as shopping at Robyn Story Designs in Carrollwood (Nov. 7-8), when the guild will keep 20 percent of sales.

Also on the calendar: Barbara Shepard announced four Know Your Composer study groups. Midge Glazer got the group excited about the Dec. 10 luncheon on the Yacht StarShip. The guild reaches out to young families with a children's concert at the Carrollwood Cultural Center on Feb. 28.

"And don't forget Fall Fanfare on Nov. 15,'' McCarthy said, "when vocalist Zanda Moore sings at lunch at Emerald Greens Country Club."

Sounds like the guild is tuned up and ready to play.