Area organizations reach out to Haitian earthquake victims

Chamber South held its networking luncheon recently at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in South Miami. The earthquake aftermath was certainly a topic of concern that day as luncheon sponsor, financial planner Rick Tonkinson, addressed the crowd with his wife, Margarita, and son, Steven, who both work with him in their family business.

While both Rick and Margarita are Rotarians, Steven is also connected to Rotary through his involvement with the Shelter Box program and is on call various times during the year to assist in the delivery of these boxes that provide a tent and 6 months supply of survival items to disaster areas. Three thousand three hundred boxes are already being shipped to Haiti. While Steven is not “on call” until next month, he and many other volunteers are helping organize and raising additional funds for the program.

In fact, Gables Rotarian Jorge Suarez and Steven Tonkinson addressed the Coral Gables Rotary Club, a group that had purchased several shelter boxes earlier last year to advise them that their donations were critical in the delivery for this earthquake disaster. Of course, replenishing supplies is crucial and the Club answered with many offering matches that brought the pledges to total more than $10,000.

This truly is a giving community with many like Steve’s dad and Jo Burke donating $1,000 each, the cost of each box. Speaking of Rotarians and their massive outreach, hundreds of free dictionaries and atlases were gifted over the last several months to students thanks to a partnership between Rotary Clubs, including the South Miami Rotary Club, and the Miami-Dade County Public Library. Among the many delivering 1,093 books over a two day period were Debra Shepherd; South Miami Rotary President Pansy Graham; Jessica Van Smith; Diana Phillips; Michele Dye; Randy Ramos, to mention a few. On the cultural front, Actors’ Playhouse held the opening night for “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.”

After a week of emotional news coming out of Haiti, this musical transported the audience to Stark, Florida, for a truly hilarious evening with off-the-wall-characters beautifully portrayed by the talented cast whose performances make you howl with laughter. In addition, David Nehls music and lyrics are so funny, I suspect audiences may want to see this more than once just to catch all the laughs they missed the first time. Suffice to say, the show received a standing ovation from the opening night crowd, all of whom stayed around to partake in a late supper provided by John Ma rtins Restaurant and Irish Pub.

Warning, this is strictly an adult show not suitable for any underage children. Hats off to Artistic Director David Arisco and, of course, Barbara Stein, for finding another great show. For tickets and show info, call 305-444-9293 or go online to .

Finally, nationally noted trial attorney and author Alan G. Greer will be doing a book reading at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 2750 McFarlane Road, Coconut Grove, on Thursday, February 4, at 7 p.m.

The book reading is free and open to the public. Greer will be reading an excerpt from his book about God and religion called Choices & Challenges, Lessons In Faith, Hope and Love.. Until next week, keep making each day count.

Gloria Burns is Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Pinecrest, a 501 (c) (3) non profit organization, as well as a columnist for Community Newspapers.

Keeping abreast of community activities is a challenge. If you would like to submit information for this column, send your news via email to < >.

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About the Author

Gloria Burns
A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel as well as non profit consulting and management. Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist writing Gloria’s Gab, a column that focuses on the non-profit activity. Burns was Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee for 6 years and then served as the first Executive Director of Coral Gables Community Foundation for 14 years after which she helped the emerging Community Foundation of Pinecrest. Active in many non profits, she received the 2015-16 President's Best Member Award from the GFWC Coral Gables Woman's Club, 2012-13 CGWC Leadership Award, 2012-2013 Rotarian of the Year Award as RCCG Public Relations Chair and Fund raising Co-Chair, 2011 Florida Federation of Women’s Club Volunteer of the Year for the District 11 and honored by the City of Doral as one of their first recipients for the Doralian Women's Award. Among her list of current responsibilities, Burns co-chairs two annual student recognition breakfasts for the Coral Gables Friends of Education; helps coordinate charity partners for the Westin Colonnade's Annual Give Kids the World Breakfast; serves on the board of directors of Doral Business Council; is Parliamentarian and serves on the board of the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club; serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables and is Publicity Chair; and is a member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee. Gloria is also an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church where sings sings in the choir. She can be reached at

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