Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Girls Inc. Celebration Luncheon

What do you do with a guest list of 900 people?  You make them smile, you make them laugh, you make them shed a tear or two, and then, if you are successful, you ask them for money.  That's what Girls Inc. did yesterday at their Celebration Luncheon at the Ritz Carlton, co-chaired by Sarasota's media elite - Julie Milton, Diane McFarlin, Lisa Walsh, Lisl Ling, Louise Bruderle, and Kelley Lavin.

There was so much going on in the short one and a half hour luncheon that it might be a little difficult to capture it all!  The girls from Girls Inc. took an active role in emceeing many parts.  The luncheon got off to a rousing and rollicking start with the Girls Inc. girls weaving through the crowd onto the stage where Alyssa White beautifully sang "Who Says".  The Girl of the Year, Shayla Brown, was announced.  Steve Seidensticker came to the stage and awarded her a $1,000 Libby's Legacy college scholarship in honor of his mother.  He said it will be a yearly award to each Girl of the Year winner.

Susan Jones was given the Donna Brace Ogilvie Board of Trustees Visionary Award and both Flori Roberts and Pam Truitt were given the She Knows Where She's Going Award.  All of the award winners were interviewed on stage by a Girls Inc. girl - very cute!

Executive Director, Stephania Feltz spoke about "It's all in the messaging" in regards to the media images and messages that young girls are bombarded with on a daily basis and how we all have to work to instill self esteem and self confidence to make them strong, smart, and bold. 

Stephania also recognized Rep. Greg Stuebe, Sen. Mike Bennett (with wife Dee standing in for him) and attorneys John Patterson and John Irving with the Hercules Award for their warrior-like efforts in trying to get a bill passed that there would be no clawbacks from non-profits when they had been gifted money from a Ponzi scheme, as there are no clawbacks from for-profits.  This of course, came up because Art Nadel gave millions of dollars to area non-profits, including Girls Inc., of which the receivership attorneys are now trying to take back.  It is a very unfortunate and harmful situation to several organizations.

I am going to do something I don't do very often - compliment the Ritz Carlton.  They seem to be working overtime to do well and make people happy.  I have been quite impressed.  First of all, I have been to two events there in the last two days - one with 500 guests and one with 900.  Each day when I arrived, my car was directed immediately to the valet.  In the past when I have arrived, I have had to sit in a car line for up to almost 30 minutes to get my car to the porte cochere where the valet is.  It has been ridiculous.  Imagine my surprise when I drove up the driveway and there was no line and I was waved in immediately.  They are still working on being ultra efficient on the back end when people leave, but they are now handing out bottles of water to make it a more pleasurable wait.

In addition, the food has been different and quite good.  Director of Banquets, James Harries, has been taking good care of me and I really appreciate it!  The food is being served in a very timely manner, which hasn't always been the case.  You can see they have been really working to improve things and it shows.  Kudos!

A few of the others attending not photographed below were: Judges Rochelle Curley, Kim Bonner, and Donna Berlin, Marlene Woodson-Howard, Bob Johnson, Angie Stringer, David Denkin, Sheriff Tom Knight, Joe Barbetta, Barbara Ford-Coates, Anne Weintraub, Leslie Juron, Phil Delaney, Pam Daniel, Ilene Denton, Doris Kaplan, Gayle Guynup, Kim Wheeler, Sue Seiter, Varinia Van Ness, Kristen Nichols, Joyce Tate, Jaime Wallace, Scott Anderson, Marian and Gloria Moss, Joan Golub, Anne McFall, Dorothy Stuart, Shirley Ritchey, Sherry Watts, Terri Klauber, Janet Hunter, Peggy Abt, Kay Mathers, Debbie Shapiro, Emily Walsh, Janet Walter, Patti Eisemann, Margaret Wise, Gila Meriwether, Karen Fessel, Ilene Fox, Molly Jackson, and Jessica Ventimiglia, and so many, many more.

Honoree Susan Jones, Girls Inc. Executive Director, Stephania Feltz, and Honoree, Flori Roberts

Julie Milton and Denise Mei

Lisa Walsh and Diane McFarlin

Ellen Berman and Flora Major

Michelle Butler, Chris Pfahler, Melba Jimenez, and Stephanie Hannum

Barbara Banks, Alisa Pettingell, and Wendy Getchell

Bonnie Hassler, Charlie Lenger, and Johanna Gustafsson

Honoree Pam Truitt and Phyllis Domine

Ruth Lando, Judi Bell, and Sophia LaRusso

Mary Ann Robinson and Nikki Nilon

Graci McGillicuddy and Terri Vitale

Brian Lipton and Gerri Aaron

The lights dimmed just as I took this - standing, Hillary Steele, seated, Lois Stulberg and Sally Yanowitz

Susan Kelly, Brenda Johnson, and Eileen Curd

Lee Peterson

Jewel Ash and Betty Schoenbaum

Karen Solem and Rebecca Donelson

Giovanna McGrath and Susan Brennan

Shelia Baynes and Audrey Coleman

Jeanne Marlowe, Kathleen Groskopf, and Kim Cornetet 

Amanda and Kathy Francoletti and Susan Scott

Kristine Nickel, Lindsey Nickel-de la O and Judi Gallagher

Girls Inc. girls

The dessert

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