Merrick Festival’s much deserved recognition insures its future

Merrick Festival's much deserved recognition insures its future

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Merrick Festival Caroling Competition, founded by Executive Director Sally Baumgartner Goodman decades ago helping showcase school choirs throughout Miami-Dade County including several over every year from the Pinecrest area, recently received some great news. This annual week long competition held in the first part of December has finally received the status it greatly deserves that will benefit the many schools who receive prize dollars. At the August 27 Coral Gables City Commission meeting, Mayor Raul Valdes Fauli recognized this long standing event as an official City of Coral Gables event. Aside from providing free entertainment during the course of the nightly competitions in front of the 550 Biltmore Building in Coral Gables, the Festival has awarded $300,000 in cash prizes over the last 32 years to winning choirs. This year choirs will compete for $15,000, funding the schools use to enhance their music programs. For Sally and her donors, this is huge as it insures the continuation of the event even after she retires.

Halloween is just around the corner and for one of the best parties for 18 and over set, the Coral Gables Woman’s Club’s Annual Haunted House Party is the best deal in town for a great time. Join the fun at their clubhouse, 1009 East Ponce de Leon Blvd., October 26, 7:30 – 11 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person in advance or $60 at door and include toxic treats and eats, cash bar, prizes, raffle, music by DJ Johnny, dancing and more. For information and/ or tickets, visit

In other good news, A Safe Haven for Newborns just saved two more babies over the weekend of August 23. Two babies, both boys, came from different locations in Florida bringing the total number of infants saved since the organization was founded to 306 in Florida, another five in other US states and one in Honduras. ASHFN Founder Nick Silverio is a man who works 24/7 with no pay to save these precious lives. Helping pregnant women and saving babies is what Nick is all about and you can help. During the year they do events to help pay for the many services they provide and coming up next is their annual gala at the Intercontinental Miami on October 19. To be a sponsor or buy tickets, email or visit www.asafehavenfornewborns.

GFWC FL District 11 women’s clubs from all over Miami-Dade County gathered for a half day Summer Planning Workshop at the Miami Springs Woman’s Club on August 28. District 11 Director Elizabeth Kourtesis Fisher presided over the meeting presenting a comical and very entertaining program dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz before the meat of the program focused on membership, leadership and finances covered by GFWC FL’s Sara Dessureau and Past GFWC FL: President Charlyn Carruth.

Speaking of service organizations, Rotary’s District 6990 that includes South Miami Rotary, held one of its series of Rotary University events at the Huizenga School at Nova Southeastern University. Topic for the sessions included public image, foundation and membership. Participants came from as far away as Key West. Among the presenters were Mike Kesti and Barbara Gobbi, who addressed Public Image; Norby Rudel and Alan Cohn, on Foundation; Robert Sladoff, on Membership; as well as Joe Roth and Peter Verbeeck .

Among the many others from Pinecrest and Miami-Dade attending with this writer were Jeff McNabb, Ligia Corredor, Nicolas Eterovic, Noreen Timoney, Maria Kesti, Antonio Pinheiro, Digna Cabral, and Felipe Madrigal, to mention a few.

Until next time, keep making each day count.

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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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