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Amy Scherzer's Diary: Weekly Wrap-up of the Tampa social scene

Tampa Bay Foundation for Mental Health treasurer Dr. Eric Storch, founding president Dr. Jamie Fernandez and board member Margo Eure share their goals at the inaugural fundraiser, Unfractured Grace.
Published Feb. 11, 2016

Unfractured Grace

When Tampa orthopedic surgeon Mark Frankle's colleagues sought to donate to a community mental health organization in memory of his late wife, Mary, "No organization fit the mission," he said. So last year Frankle, psychiatrist Jamie Fernandez and some close friends formed the Tampa Bay Foundation for Mental Health. "More spending, less stigma," Fernandez said, noting that 1 in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness. The first grant funded Connections, a docent training program for USF undergrads to offer Tampa Museum of Art tours to people with dementia, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unfractured Grace, the foundation's inaugural benefit Saturday at the museum, drew 200 guests, including numerous orthopedic surgeons in town for Frankle's surgery and elbow symposiums. During dinner and dancing, donors offered $2,500 to spend a day with Frankle and $1,750 for dinner at the home of museum director Michael Tomor.

Guest speaker former Gov. Bob Martinez urged the start-up to persevere, saying "If it was easy, it would have been done."

Tampa Jewish Federation President's Dinner

Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg stepped out of his role as a writer for Atlantic magazine to address the 13th annual President's Dinner hosted by the Tampa Jewish Federation, one of 157 such federations in North America. Starting with levity, he grew serious on the topic of anti-Semitism from Toulouse to Tampa, concluding, "We have to face the world as it is, not as we'd like it to be." His words helped collect pledges of $300,000 as Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen led the Q & A at the Hilton Downtown Tampa.

President Rochelle Walk welcomed 715 guests, many elected officials among them, and presented the annual Tikkun Olam award to Drs. Carl and Paula Zielonka for decades of volunteering. Also exciting news: the event center at the $30-million Bryan Glazer Family JCC, set to open in November, is now booking parties for up to 750 seated guests and 1,000 standing.

American Red Cross Tiffany Circle

To provide blood, shelter and comfort in the aftermath of disaster, the American Red Cross counts on women like Jill Valenti, Lorraine Dutkowsky, Marsha Dickey, Stephanie Goforth, Cathy Smith, Jenny Swindal, Linda Carbone and other Tampa women who donate $10,000 annually as part of the worldwide Tiffany Circle. "Over 1,000 in the circle now," said Valenti, who joined 100 other guests aboard Holland America's ms Veendam between sailings Jan. 31. Touring the ship was a special treat for her husband, Joe Valenti, who oversaw the ships's construction in Italy as the cruise line's vice president of marine operations and cruised with Jill on its first sea trial in 1996.

Red Cross service to the armed forces dates back to the Civil War, vice president Koby Langley, liaison to the U.S. military, reminded supporters in his after-lunch update.

Chiselers dedicate music room

All her friends agreed that the late Emmy Moody and her husband, Ashby, would be delighted with the renovation of the music room at the University of Tampa, a two-year, $300,000 project made possible when they left their estate to the Chiselers, preservationists of the 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel. Not coincidently, Sunday's dedication marked the hotel's 125th anniversary, said Chiseler president Pat Keel as UT president Ron Vaughn thanked the group.

Architect Ken Garcia of Abell/Garcia described stripping 70 years of paint, "including walls covered in vinyl wallpaper from who knows when," removing two layers of wood floors and reinforcing the damaged concrete slab before installing Celtis wood. Windows were restored, the balcony railing repaired and the piece de resistance, the room's original, seven-panel Wine, Women and Song painting was photographed, reprinted on canvas and hung in a replica frame over the stage. "You can't tell it's not an oil painting," Garcia said, "It's the perfect finish to the room."

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