Merrick Festival caroling event gets long overdue recognition

Merrick Festival caroling event gets long overdue recognition

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Merrick Festival Caroling Competition, founded decades ago by executive director Sally Baumgartner Goodman to help showcase school choirs throughout Miami-Dade County, recently received some great news.

The annual weeklong competition conducted in the first part of December finally received the status it greatly deserves that will benefit the many schools who receive prize dollars.
At the Aug. 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 to winning choirs during the past 32 years. 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.

Burger Bob’s, a local favorite breakfast and lunch restaurant on the Granada Golf Course, offered a great place for an after hours dinner birthday party for former Coral Gables Woman’s Club president Barbara Lapsley. CGWC member Rita Tennyson’s catering provided a beautiful assortment of delicious dishes that just kept coming all night. When Rita caters, it always is special and this night was for a very special person who has dedicated most of the life to service work with CGWC.

Among the many there to help her celebrate were current and past members including Andy Young, Dr. Iris Torres, Carmen Suarez, Nancy Desmangles, Arely Ruiz, Ana Lam, Valerie Valenzuela, Vicki McGroarty, Martha Black and Donna Myrill, to mention a few.

Speaking of the Woman’s Club, Halloween is just around the corner and for one of the best parties for the 18 and older 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 E. Ponce de Leon Blvd., 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. Costumes are a must for this crazy night of fun.

For information and/or tickets, visit

In other good news, A Safe Haven for Newborns just saved two more babies over the weekend of Aug. 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 U.S. 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 the annual gala at the Intercontinental Miami on Oct. 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 Aug. 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 GFWC FL past president Charlyn Carruth.

Speaking of service organizations, Rotary’s District 6990, which 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 Rudell and Alan Cohn on foundation; Robert Sladoff on membership, as well as Joe Roth and Peter Verbeeck. Among the many others from South Miami 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 , non profit consulting and management. Before joining Miami's Community Newspapers as a columnist and marketing specialist, Gloria was the Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee (6 yrs.) and first Executive Director of the Coral Gables Community Foundation (14 yrs.) and the Pinecrest Community Foundation (1 ½ yrs) . Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist for Community Newspapers writing Gloria’s Gab, that focuses on the non-profit activity, and a host of an online show, Gloria's Gab LIVE. Gloria serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables as Civic and Charity Chair, and is involved in the club's International Committee. She is an active Life Member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee and is Secretary of the Merrick Festival. She serves on the board of directors of the Coral Gables Woman' Club as Publicity Chair and also coordinates the club's monthly fundraiser for various charities with Gringo Bingo at Clutch Burger. In addition, Gloria participates in numerous other charitable events and is a member of the Business Forum Group, Profit Inc., the Greater Miami Festival & Events Association and the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. In other volunteer activity, Gloria helps Miami Christian School with fund-raising and PR; is an Ambassador and volunteers for events for A Safe Haven for Newborns. She is an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church where she enjoys singing in the choir every weekend.


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