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Community Roundtable salutes volunteers at annual dinner

BRANDON — The Community Roundtable, now in its 57th year as one of Brandon's most notable organizations, recently recognized community and nonprofit efforts at its annual dinner.

The roundtable, which lends support to all area nonprofits, presented Kavita Marballi with its prestigious Alice B. Tompkins Community Service Award at the Feb. 17 event.

Marballi serves as program director at the Campo YMCA in Valrico and has participated in various fundraisers and community events over the years. She founded the Savvy Senior program at the YMCA and also holds membership in the Valrico Fishhawk Chamber of Commerce.

"I love to make a difference in people's lives," Marballi said. "Especially seniors, because I wasn't able to be there for my parents as they got older. I moved here. But Brandon is my family."

The roundtable, through its volunteer fairs, have helped more than 3,000 local students find opportunities close to home instead of resorting to long drives to Tampa.

One of those students, Dahiany Zayas-Toro, received the Maureen Krzanowski Scholarship given to an outstanding local high school student. While maintaining a 5.27 grade point average at Bloomingdale High School, Zayas-Toro has logged hours volunteering for Greater Brandon Meals on Wheels, the Emergency Care Help Organization and Teacher's Helper along with many other organizations.

"It's important that high school students become involved in volunteering for their communities not just temporarily, but permanently," Zayas-Toro said. "Looking to help people locally is enough."

One of the organizations that Zayas-Toro volunteered for— Greater Brandon Meals on Wheels— received the nonprofit of the year Award for their efforts in providing nutritious meals to senior citizens in Brandon and surrounding eastern Hillsborough communities. Approximately 2.5 million meals have been delivered by the group since its inception nearly 40 years ago.

Keynote speaker Ernest Hooper praised the volunteer efforts of the volunteers in attendance, but also encouraged them to get more people to contribute.

"I may be preaching to the choir but let's be honest, this choir needs to be bigger," Hooper said. "We need more voices singing the praises of Brandon, putting more unity in 'community' and making this a better place to live."

Contact Kelsey Sunderland at