Ileana Ros-Lehtinen honored with Golden Eagle Award

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On Friday, May 11th, a sold out crowd attended the (SFLHCC) South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Golden Eagle Award Luncheon honoring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, representing the 27th Congressional District that includes South Miami, Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Key Biscayne, Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Westchester, Little Havana , Miami and Miami Beach. SFLHCC President/ CEO Liliam Lopez, Chairman Ralph Gonzalez Jacobo, staff and board members knocked it out of the park with this beautiful tribute so well deserved attracting such notables as Lt. Governor Carlos López-Cantera, Miami -Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz, City of Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, and past recipients of the award such as Juan del Busto, the former regional executive of the Miami Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Dozens of elected city, county and state officials were on hand to recognized the Congresswoman’s impressive career. The first Hispanic woman elected to Congress, Ileana filled the vacant seat left by the late Claude Pepper and certainly made it her own. Ileana tackled head on a multitude of issues and as a former teacher who earned a Ph. D. in Education at the University of Miami, Ileana helped sponsor the Florida Prepaid College Program, of which many of our children and grandchildren have benefited or will in the future. A wife of a Vietnam veteran and step-mother to Marine aviators, giving veterans access to a college education was also a priority. There are not enough words to praise this woman who served us so well and will, no doubt, continue to do so using her education degree and her vast experience to share with others.

Speaking of people whose life has made a huge impact, Dr. “Doc” Alfred Graham Smith recently passed away and his family held a beautiful celebration of his life at Riviera Country Club on May 12. While there were some tears, Doc loved a good laugh with his ready smile and great sense of humor, That said, some funny stories were the order of the day for many who loved him, which is most anyone who knew him. Doc was a pioneer as a charter member of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) and the first pediatric ophthalmologist in the state of Florida. Doc founded the pediatric ophthalmology clinic at the Variety Children’s Hospital in Miami, now Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, and was on the volunteer faculty of the University of Miami Medical School Ophthalmology Department where he arranged for residents from the newly organized University of Miami ophthalmology residency, now Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, to rotate at Children’s Hospital for their pediatric training. While he succeeded like few other, Doc’s early days at the University of Florida were less that what his dad wanted one term resulting in a funny story good friend Hank Langston shared.. something about being told to sit a toilet seat on returning home, a fitting chair for the Chief’s half “a…d” son. The presentation of a Gator adorned “half” toilet seat climaxed his good buddy Hank’s tribute for this unique caring man who was a giver all his life, was great fun and will be missed. Check out the photo.

Yet another great man whose life made a difference was Claude Pepper whose legacy was celebrated on May 17. Hundreds gathered at Jungle Island for the 2018 United HomeCare Claude Pepper Awards Dinner. Among the list of honorees were for Lifetime Achievement Elizabeth Dudek, Director of Health Care Affairs, Greenberg Traurig, P.A.; Corporate Service- Health Care, Penny S. Schaeffer, Ph.D, Market President, So. Florida,-Florida Blue; Corporate Service, Bacardi U.S.A., Eduardo Cutillas; Education/ Advocacy, Dr. Mark B. Rosenberg, President F.I.U.; Public Services, the Honorable Esteban Bovo, Jr., Miami-Dade Commissioner District 13; Philanthropic Service, Jose Milton Foundation- Cecil, Frank, Joseph and Ana Milton; Thelma Gibson Community Service, Juan and Maria Del Busto, The Del Busto Family Foundation; and Community Builder, the Honorable Keon Hardemon, City of Miami Commissioner District 5. Barbara Gray, United HomeCare’ Chairperson of the Board, quotes Claude Pepper , a man who work tirelessly on behalf of the elderly population, “They deserve much, and they need much” something that United HomeCare strives to do daily; thus, a fitting way for this non profit organization to honor Pepper’s legacy. Look for photos in upcoming issues.

Until next time, keep making each day count.

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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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