An exceptional evening marked the inaugural reception for the Coral Gables Community Foundation’s Merrick Society as friends and supporters gathered in the Salon at the Riviera Country Club to enjoy camaraderie, drinks, and hors d’ouvres. Dedicated to continuing city founder George E. Merrick’s vision for Coral Gables, the Merrick Society represents the Foundation’s highest levels of giving where donors have made a three-year commitment of support.
Over 50 guests in attendance included Vice Mayor William H. “Bill” Kerdyk, Jr., former Mayors Don Slesnick and Dorothy Thomson, long-serving city commissioner “Chip” Withers, Coral Gables Chamber CEO Mark Trowbridge, and prominent local philanthropists and civic-minded citizens, such as special guest Robert J. Fewell.
Foundation Executive Director Andria Hanley introduced the current Chair of the Foundation, Carlos F. Garcia who spoke about the Foundation’s 22-year history of directing $4 million dollars in charitable contributions in areas such as the arts and culture, education, health, culinary arts, and green space. Merrick Society level donors have made a significant local impact working with the Foundation in nurturing projects like the Coral Gables Art Cinema and the Coral Gables Museum, establishing scholarship funds, and restoring the Alhambra Water Tower through the PARKnership Fund. The Foundation currently manages nearly 30 funds established by individuals, families, companies, and organizations. With pride, Mr. Garcia mentioned that 100% of the Foundation’s current Board of Directors are Merrick Society members.
Introducing the Foundation’s immediate past chair, William A. “Bill” Bonn, Esq., Mr. Garcia spoke of Bill Bonn’s commitment as one of the earliest supporters of the Merrick Society at the highest level.
With a heartfelt personal story on how he came to live in Coral Gables and why his passion is to “Give where you live” in supporting Coral Gables through participating in the Coral Gables Community Foundation, Mr. Bonn described the rewarding satisfaction of creative local philanthropy as the ability to see your contribution make a difference, citing examples from the Foundation’s award-winning relationship with our local high school, including the Foundation’s Ponce Society of Young Professionals “Dress Shirt and Tie Drive” for the football team, T-shirts for Career Day, and the support of the High School’s Culinary Arts Program.
Mr. Bonn then introduced “one of the most generous men in Coral Gables” the evening’s special guest Robert J. “Bob” Fewell, and recognized Mr. Fewell as the first lifetime member of the Merrick Society for his contribution of $100,000.
Sharing his love of George Merrick’s vision and the city of Coral Gables, Mr. Fewell spoke briefly about George Merrick’s vision and how fortunate the city is all these years later because of him.
The evening concluded with special thanks from Foundation Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Karelia M. “Kare” Carbonell, head of the Foundation’s Development Committee, who brought together this dedicated group of philanthropists for this special occasion, and established a new tradition for the Foundation.
About The Coral Gables Community Foundation
The Coral Gables Community Foundation is a §501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to improve the quality of life for all of those who live or work in the City Beautiful. To read more about the Foundation, or to make a donation, please visit www.gablesfoundation.org.
By Andria Hanley