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Amy Scherzer's Diary

Clinic award treasured

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By Amy Scherzer

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 18, 2003

A JOKE A DAY: Emcee emeritus Ernie Reiner made a return engagement to host the annual Judeo-Christian Health Clinic Humanitarian Award testimonial dinner April 10. The funny internist was so nervous about his groaners that he put a copy of some classic one-liners on each table.

Clinic president surgeon Sylvia Campbell thanked honorees John and Susan Sykes for "compassion through quiet deeds." She also put a gold star around Reiner's neck and presented his wife, Doris, with angel wings. The 4120 N MacDill Ave. clinic serves the working poor, those ineligible for government assistance but unable to afford insurance. The clinic relies entirely on donations, grants and volunteers.

While the Songfellows Barbershop Quartet harmonized, the silent auction featured artwork, gift baskets and Barbie doll cakes made by patient Violet Sansom. Monsignor Laurence Higgins, Dr. John DeBevoise and Rabbi Richard Birnholz offered their prayers.

Said John Sykes, "We've gotten many awards, but this one means so much."

Best dressed: Dick Corbett flew in from New York, hustled into his tuxedo and whisked over to Higgins Hall to discover that dinner wasn't black-tie.

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COCOON FOR KIDS: First it was called the Polo Ball, then the Rainbow Ball. On April 11, it became the Chrysalis Ball. Over 16 years, the name changed, but never the cause: the Child Abuse Council's Rainbow Family Learning Center, now in Plant City.

"The new name represents the protected stage of a butterfly's life, and that's what we do, protect the children," said Ann Trinkle, chairwoman of the first three Polo Balls.

After dinner and dancing at the University Club, the 300 guests received the coolest coffee mugs, donated by Di and Rick Lott. Pour in hot liquid and a caterpillar turns into a colorful butterfly. With all expenses underwritten, the ball netted $40,000, half of the Rainbow Family Learning Center's budget.

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GETTING STUFFED: Best of Tampa Bay mixed it up with six bands and nearly 50 restaurant spooning samples to 1,450 eaters inside and outside the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center on Saturday. Gianpiero Ruggeri paired the right wines and beers from a dozen vendors.

Tough job that it was, we did the tasting to compile the ideal menu for you. For starters, T.C. Choy's dumplings and Shephard's Beach Resort's lobster bisque. Next comes Pappas Market Cafe's Greek salad or Avanzare's antipasto. For entrees, Bonefish Grill's pineapple butter rum macadamia mahi mahi, Green Iguana's steak burgers or Aramark's buffalo with Carrabba's garlic sauteed spinach. Dessert: Melting Pot's chocolate fondue topped with Old Meeting House ice cream.

The performing arts center booked music to cover all tastes -- Urban Gypsies, Grupo Caribe, Degari Jazz and folksy Magda Hiller. The Lounge Cats closed down the waterfront stage at 11 p.m. The event raised $75,000 for the center.

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THANK YOU DONORS: Ironically, the 650 friends of the Children's Home attending the annual recognition lunch equaled the 650 families the agency served in the bay area last year. Nearly 60 children reside at the home on Memorial Highway. Some arrive after a dozen prior placements; some have never celebrated a birthday.

The April 8 luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Downtown honored supporters, especially Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf. Board member Betsey Lurie presented him with the Helen A. Davis Award and pointed out several previous recipients, including Marion Rodgers and Susan Sykes.

Schwarzkopf has been honorary chairman of the Children's Home Sporting Clays Classic since the beginning in 1995, when it raised $15,000. Last month's event raised $109,000. He posed for pictures and signed autographs after sharing a favorite saying: "You can't help someone up a hill without getting a little higher yourself."

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GULF COAST RAP: Singing the praises of Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, Andrea Graham and Geoff Simon rocked the agency's ninth annual gala. Their Gulf Coast Rap song and family photos appeared overhead as they donned sunglasses to show their appreciation as the Tampa honorees at the April 5 dinner at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Graham helped form the Tampa AIDS Network; Simon serves on numerous boards but is especially inspired by his friend Joel Reedy, who lives with Lou Gehrig's Disease. With 480 guests, the dinner netted the agency $300,000.

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PRAY FOR CHOCOLATE: Just for fun, members of two chapters of Hadassah decided to replace everything on the traditional Passover seder plate with chocolate for their April 6 community seder.

Chocolate espresso beans stood in for bitter herbs or maror; chocolate fruit and nuts were charoset, the mortar on the bricks the slaves piled into pyramids. Mint chocolate meringues represented karpas, the leafy greens of spring usually dipped in salt water to symbolize tears. This time, they dunked in chocolate pudding. Even the Seder plates were made of white chocolate by Wendy Dolgin.

About 100 women took part in the festive dinner at the Radisson Riverwalk, led by Diana Bloom. The best part: Chocolate Merlot made by Wine Not on E Fowler Avenue and chocolate fondue for dessert.

With 300,000 members, Hadassah is the largest women's membership organization in the United States.


APRIL 25: SilverSpoons & Sandcastles XII, cocktails and auction to benefit the Mayor's Beautification Program; 7:30 p.m.; Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center; $60 before April 19, then $75; 221-8733.

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APRIL 26: Florida Coalition to Cure Parkinson's Disease; casino night and dinner gala; 5 p.m.; Hyatt Regency Tampa; $60; 974-3676.

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APRIL 26: Brunch by the Bay benefits Florida Blood Services Foundation; 10:30 a.m.; home of Liz and David Kennedy; $75; (727) 568-2231.

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APRIL 26: Opera Tampa Guild Gala; buffet before, desserts following opening night of Otello; gala, $95; opera tickets, $24.50 and up; 222-1037.

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

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