More than 400 guests watched Tampa Bay celebrity models in formalwear from Ambria's Gallery of Wearable Art in St. Petersburg, but the true runway stars at the annual "Value Me: Prom Magic" luncheon were young women from the PACE Center for Girls in Pinellas Park.
Wearing gowns donated to Beth's Closet at PACE, they lit up the ballroom at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon for the event, which was presented by the Beth Dillinger Foundation.
Established by Kay Dillinger and her husband, Bob Dillinger, the Pinellas-Pasco public defender, in memory of their daughter, Beth, who took her life in 2006, the foundation supports scholarships, Beth's Closet and the Hope Chest, a clothing donation system for needy boys and girls in the public defender's office in Clearwater, Dade City and New Port Richey.
The luncheon raised more than $200,000 in scholarships and operational funds.
"It surpassed anything I ever dreamed of," Kay Dillinger said afterward.
Bright House Networks was presenting sponsor for the event, and Cat Coats received the Spirit of Hope Award.
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Members and potential members of the Boley Angels, a support group that raises money and community awareness for Boley Centers, met for a wine and cheese party in the home of Diane Winning.
Boley serves persons with mental disabilities, the homeless, and youths in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco and Sarasota counties, offering treatment, recovery, employment services and housing.
Gary MacMath, Boley's president and chief executive, had good news in what was a challenging legislative year for many nonprofits: Its state financial commitment remains unchanged for the next year.
In addition, the organization opened the Bob Pitts Villas on May 11 (the 16-unit residence is named for a longtime Boley board member) and soon will open the Burlington Gardens and Twin Brooks properties. All are in St. Petersburg and offer permanent, affordable housing to persons with mental disabilities.
Guests at the party included Angels president Nora Pearson and other longtime supporters including Mary Wyatt Allen, Virginia Battaglia, Sharon Clayton, Mary Maloof, Sally Poynter, Edie Spies and Connie Whitehead.
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Seymour Gordon, retiring president of the board of the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, was host at a "thank you" dinner for trustees and staff members in the museum's Marly Room, and many of his guests returned the expressions of gratitude.
Toasts came from former board president Carol A. Upham, new president Dr. Edward Amley, former treasurer Cary Putrino, trustee and former Pinellas County Commissioner Bob Stewart, museum director Kent Lydecker, and former director John Schloder.
Gordon, the museum's longtime legal adviser, joined the board in 1994, was elected vice president in 1998, became president in 2008 and recently was named a lifetime honorary trustee.
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The presentations at Florida Resurrection House's annual "New Beginnings" breakfast never fail to move hearts, and this year's event was no exception. Nearly 500 guests at the "A Place of Sanctuary" fundraiser heard narratives from three participants in the program, which helps homeless and working-poor families with minor children gain independence.
Two of the speakers have completed college, and a third left an abusive situation with her three children and now is employed and preparing to enter college.
Presenting sponsors Beverly and Carlos Yepesreceived the Eagle Award from board of directors chairman Bronson Alexander and president and chief executive Cynthia Sinclair.
Opera singer Kathleen Myrick and recent University of South Florida graduate Doug Denning were the featured musical performers.
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Members of the Polywogs, the Pinellas civic group that presents an annual fundraising golf tournament, presented checks from that March 28 event to All Children's Hospital, R'Club Child Care, the St. Petersburg Free Clinic and the First Tee of St. Petersburg.
President Del Goforth and chairman Jack Frost led the ceremonies at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, with representatives from the beneficiary charities attending.