St. Pete Midtown Rotary Club 3rd Annual Awards Gala

BY LAPORSHA D. FRAZIE, Cocane Corals Media

ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg’s Midtown Rotary Club held its 3rd Annual Awards Gala, “A Soul Music Celebration” Sat., Oct 24 at the Historic Manhattan Casino, 642 22nd St. S.

The event featured inspiring speakers, great entertainment along with the opportunity to make a difference. Rotarians, friends, family and honored guests gathered to recognize and award influential members of the St. Petersburg community and raise funds to support the club’s many community service projects.

The night began with a warm welcome by Midtown Rotary Club President, Dr. J. Robert (Bob) Ross, followed by an invocation from club board member Gershom Faulkner and recognition of the event’s special guests by the Midtown Club’s immediate past president, Joseph Smith.  The club’s President-elect, Carole K. Alexander, gave an enlightening introduction to the night’s keynote speaker, Leah McRae, newly appointed Director of Education and Community Engagement for the city of St. Pete.

McRae’s speech was nothing short of moving and was geared toward highlighting projects for the greater good of the city of St. Petersburg. She brought to attention the growth that is underway in the city and some of the specific changes, which need to be made as a result.

McRae spoke about Mayor Rick Kriseman’s initiative to provide housing for homeless veterans in St. Petersburg, and to increase the number of sworn police officers in response to the growth of downtown and other areas.

Additionally, McRae remarked on the city’s appreciation for organizations like the Midtown Rotary Club for their partnerships in service projects that benefit city residents and communities. She also said that more opportunities for entrepreneurs would be made available through dollars coming into the city such as The Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation (TBBIC), which announced receipt of a $75,000 federal grant.

Following dinner, the evening continued with an informative presentation by Faulkner on the meaning of being a Rotarian and how to become a part of the illustrious club.

There was much excitement in the room as Club President Bob Ross made the presentation of awards.  Grand Villa of St. Petersburg was recipient of the Business Award; the Non-Profit/Community Award was awarded to the Bayboro House and the “Service Above Self” Rotarian of the Year Award went to Gershom Faulkner.

The evening came to a soulful conclusion thanks to electrifying performances by Gisele Jackson, and special featured guests Alex “The Entertainer” Harris and members of his Arts Conservatory for Teens.  The evening ended on a very high note with dancing and music provided by DJ Steve (Manning).

Moving forward, the Midtown Rotary Club is continuing its support of community organizations such as Academy Prep, The Next STEPP Life Center and The Rotary House, a St. Petersburg shelter for homeless families trying to get back on their feet. The club partners with six other Rotary Clubs in St. Petersburg to provide funding for the house and service projects such as annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the resident families.

The St. Petersburg Midtown Rotary Club holds its lunch meeting every Wednesday at Grand Villa, 3600 34th St. S, St. Petersburg. Networking starts at noon and the meeting ends promptly at 1:15 p.m.

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