City’s Rotary Club presents awards to students

South Miami Rotary Club presented awards for its James Stehle Memorial Essay contest on April 16, during the annual Social Studies Fair at South Miami Middle Community School.

Top prize and $100, went to Michael Empriella, whose name has been added to the commemorative plaque in the school office. Honorable mention and $25 each went to Alyse Fernandez and Thomas Garcia. South Miami Rotary Past President Diana Phillips, presented the awards and noted that 2009 marks the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

Thus, the theme had students discuss Lincoln’s greatest achievements and their effect on the country. Stehle, award honoree, was a long-time dedicated Rotarian and World War II veteran.

More than 800 guests enjoyed The Women’s Fund’s Power of the Purse Luncheon on April 24, at the Hilton Miami Downtown. This annual affair included a silent auction with dozens of fabulous designer purses and a lunch program featuring stories told by individuals whose lives have been changed because of the support this Fund offers to gender specific programs in our area.

This year’s event was a first for the Woman’s Fund of Miami’s new CEO Debi Harris who promises to be a great addition to this incredible group of philanthropists. Chairing the event was Joyita Garg, ably assisted by her committee members: Melissa Campbell, Ali Codina, Margarita Codina, Sophia Galvin, Dana Kulvin, Norka Munilla, Sharon Socol and Wendy Mestepey.

Also, volunteering for the Power of the Purse were some members of the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club, a busy group of women have had a busy few weeks as well. On Saturday, April 25, the Club honored President Charo Bolanos with it annual President’s reception. The year’s event was held at lovely lakeside home of member Linda and John Hartwell. The western theme called for BBQ ribs by Terry Cooke’s catering and lots of folks in cowboy and cowgirl attire including such notables as past president Mary Scull Brown, Barbara Lapsley, Pam Schaefer, and Claire-Frances Whitehurst.

Coral Gables Rotarians held a reverse raffle to raise funds for civic and charity the culminated with a fabulous outdoor BBQ dinner party at the lovely Pinecrest home of Fred and Annette Baddour.

Shorty’s BBQ and a raffle count out program by the hilarious team of Susan Guttman and Dr. Randy Groh, made for a fun filled evening. Among the many helping make the evening a success were Sally Baumgartner, who oversaw the food, and Wiley Hicks, who chaired the raffle and manned the board to mark off the numbers until the final winner was revealed.

A few days later, Gables Rotarians also turned out for a day of fun on the bay at Shake-A-Leg, helping with a fun day for dozens of special needs kids as well as some children from inner city.

Watersports were followed by food from the grill cooked by Rotary volunteers. Judy Pantoja organized this Rotary outreach as she does with so many others every month. Until next week, keep making each day count.

Keeping up with what’s happening in our community is quite a challenge and I am certain there are many activities I miss. If you would like to submit information for this column, please send your news via e-mail 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. Active in many non profits, she received numerous awards across the community. 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 she sings in the choir. She can be reached at

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