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Oh, the humanitarianism

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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 3, 2002

CELEBRATING DOTTIE: There was no wiggle room for Dottie Berger MacKinnon last week. First, the Judeo-Christian Health Clinic honored the former county commissioner at its 30th testimonial dinner April 25. The next day, she welcomed 550 to the Joshua House child abuse prevention luncheon.

In between, she was in constant contact with daughter Shannan and son-in-law Rob in Jupiter, Fla., who promised to hold off on delivering Dottie's first grandchild until she got there.

They were agreeable. As of press time, Hudson Gennaro Aprile had not appeared. More good news: Dottie's name helped raise more $50,000 for the Judeo-Christian Health Clinic and put $70,000 in Joshua House's budget.

Baby Hudson will soon learn that Grandma Dottie founded Joshua House 10 years ago to love and shelter abused and neglected children waiting to be placed with a foster family.

BROTHERS & SISTERS: A rabbi, an imam and a pastor made sure that guests at the National Conference for Community & Justice were triply blessed at the April 23 Humanitarian Awards Banquet at Higgins Hall.

Executive Director Roy Kaplan summarized the message of tolerance and unity as basic genetics.

"We all have the same DNA," says Kaplan, who recently conducted the 48th session of Camp Anytown. Jennifer Sasso, a Duke University-bound Berkeley Prep senior, talked about the weeklong leadership program, as did Camp Anytown vets Renae Cazares, Ashley Mitchell and Nikki Armstrong.

Congratulations go to three "humanitarians":

Matilda Martinez Garcia, 82, introduced by Leon Russell as the hardest working social activist he's ever known. Garcia considers herself the "voice of the voiceless, especially those new to this country." She saluted the seven (of eight) siblings who were with her that night.

Craig Sher, CEO of the Sembler Co., drew praise as a role model by family friend Abby Sterensis, a senior at Shorecrest Preparatory.

Blake High School student Otis Cooper brought out Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks. But first, Cooper recounted his trip to Africa as one of the "Brooks' Bunch." His best memories: shopping at the Nike Factory and seeing a hippo yawn up close.

CITY & CAMPUS: Well done, Kathy Betancourt, said Town & Gown members at a reception on Linda and David Ward's Bayshore Boulevard patio last week. They showed their appreciation to the University of South Florida lobbyist with a $1,000 check. Betancourt promptly handed the award to USF vice president Michael Rierson to use for Hispanic student scholarships.

That's what Town & Gown is all about -- locals supporting academicians. Town & Gown was started in the 1970s by interim university president William Reece Smith and the late Nancy Ford to create a bond between the two communities, the city and the university.

USF president Judy Genshaft introduced the board of trustees, "my 13 advocates." Incoming Town & Gown president Mary Kay Ross thanked her predecessor, Carolyn Fisher, with a book to "read and give back" so it can be donated to the USF library inscribed in her honor.

Did you know? USF is the 14th largest university in the country.

VIEW FROM THE TOP: A cyber cafe, a two-story Barnes & Noble bookstore and an Einstein Bros. Bagels were stops on the tour of the new nine-floor Vaughn Center at the University of Tampa. Floors 3-8 are mostly four-person suites.

But it's the spectacular view from the ninth floor that sold the capital campaign contributors and past and present trustees at the April 26 preview. With a view of the minarets surpassing that from the Tampa and University clubs, we expect to be invited to some great parties up there.

Looking fit after recent surgery, capital campaign chairman Al Austin announced reaching $66-million toward the $80-million goal. He singled out John and Susan Sykes for giving first $10-million, then another $28-million, the largest gift to private education in Florida.

UT president Ron Vaughn introduced a couple of predecessors, David Delo, 96, UT president from 1958 to 1971, and Bruce Samson, 1986-91. Delo recently published his UT memoirs, The Last Rites Never Came.

"There's no great city without a university in its midst," John Sykes said in his appeal for a $96-million endowment fund.

Did you know: UT has 4,100 students toward its goal of 5,000.

RUNAWAY HIT: Neiman Marcus' first fashion show in Tampa helped the first fundraiser of the Tampa Bay Hotel Preservation Partnership surpass all expections, on and off the runway.

Betty Wood, counting 40 sponsors of $1,000 or more, happily takes credit for Monday's chic show at the Hyatt Regency Tampa. As she puts it, she hooked up Tampa's "oldest and grandest hotel with its newest and grandest store."

The two hosts, H.B. Plant Museum Society and the Chiseler's, sold tickets faster than you can say Fendi, including 282 patrons at $100 each. When the fire marshal heard they'd exceeded the room's 730-person capacity, they had to start mailing checks back.

DUCK, DUCK, TUNA: For reasons beyond this noncook, tuna and duck appeared abundantly at many of the 50 sampling stations at the "Best of Tampa Bay" last Saturday. Oystercatchers rolled tuna sashimi on seaweed slaw. Fleming's seared tuna mignon pressed in poppyseed and peppercorn. Armani's duck was pistachio-coated; Roy's duck came in crispy, water chestnut rangoons. T.C. Choy's Asian Bistro went all out with Peking duck, dim sum, sushi and spring rolls.

Five bands played blues, steel drums, rhythm and jazz at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center benefit. But for some of the 1,600-plus tasters, Donatello's tiramisu sang out. Mia's crab cakes and martinis rocked.

Jane Levin, restaurant recruitment chairman for the third year, reports mixed results for four $95 Gourmet Dinners planned prior to the munching marathon. Tiny Six Tables successfully drew 18 diners. Roy's sold out, with Outback Steakhouse owners Chris Sullivan and Bob Basham on the guest list. Centre Club served a small group, but the T.C. Choy's event had to be canceled for lack of interest. Next year Levin says she'll get chefs and restaurant owners to join the festival committee.

- To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or

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