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Florida Community Hall Of Fame


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Florida community Hall of Fame

Alfred Jendrasik , New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Winning Artist: He was blessed with a dream when he was just a teenager. He was in a large room with many people, was led outside to a starlit sky, and the stars spelt out words, “Straighten out your mind, Have faith in the Lord, He is Coming soon. He woke up trembling and in a cold sweat. The thing that he remembers most is the feeling, something which he can’t explain, and it is far greater than anything he has ever experienced in his life. That there is something magnificent out there. So he became a writer. His first fiction book published, “The Other Side of Life,” goes into this feeling which is called the Realm Incarnate. He mainly wrote this for my father who suffered from a stroke for two years. By Alfred Jendrasik

Anna Black. Tallahassee, Florida. Winner Against the Odds/Winning Benefactor: Anna has survived breast cancer and has an amazing story to share of true blessings and healing. Anna has taken her life experiences and shared them with us here in Tallahassee. Anna is a positive, spiritual, motivational and uplifting person on a daily basis. She also takes time during the Holidays to feed the needy and less fortunate in our city. Anna will spend hours in her own kitchen making wonderful plates for the homeless. By Yamariz Banchs

Arnold Abbott. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Winning Citizen/Humanitarian: “Put the plate down” was the first thing ninety year old homeless advocate Arnold Abbott heard before police arrested him and his partners in crime, an aging minister and a local pastor. For twenty years Abbott has been feeding the homeless around Fort Lauderdale, and he wasn’t about to let the city tell him he couldn’t continue. It wasn’t his first confrontation with the law: in 1999, he clashed with local authorities over feeding the homeless on the beach, who were afraid they would scare away the tourists. His lawsuit overturned the law on humanitarian grounds. Now he’s taking the city back to court again over the same central issue: the people’s right to feed the homeless uninhibited by local law. By Matthew Traywick

Barbara Goldstein, Tallahassee Florida. Winning Educator: She is the president and co founder of the Holocaust Education Resource Council. Her organization helps get valuable resources to teachers who have no other way to get them. There is a state mandate to teach the holocaust in Florida . Her group puts on annual teacher training workshops that helps teachers better teach the holocaust to Leon and surrounding counties. In my opinion it is a great cause. By Michael Goldstein

Bessie Proctor, formerly of Gainesville, Florida, Winning Educator: Bessie is the widow of Sam Proctor who created the Oral History program at UF, where he taught for 50 years. Bessie now lives in a retirement community in Atlanta, but she has 50 years of stories about her and Sam’s global friendships with presidents, governors, artists, and authors. By Jane Edwards

Carlotta Nesmith, Gainesville, Florida, Winning Humanitarian: For decades, Carlotta has single-handedly volunteered to oversee laundry days at Gainesville’s homeless shelter, St. Francis House. The task is chaotic and stressful, and others have tried to do it. But Carlotta manages the job and the shelter guests with poise, humor and kindness. By Jane Edwards

Carmen Garzon, Hollywood, Florida. WInner Against the Odds: Carmen Garzon survived an abusive relationship, finally finding her voice and the courage to leave. She was in her forties when she gave up everything and started over from scratch. This amazing woman overcame great odds, fulfilling a lifelong dream, becoming an entrepreneur. She opened a dance studio where she uses dance, art, poetry, spiritual awareness, fitness, music and more to open one’s heart and mind and find the beauty within. She now empowers other women, teaching them self esteem and acceptance through the arts and by sharing her own personal journey in the process. By Faith Hubsch

Clarissa Hersey-James, PhD, Tampa, Florida, Winner Against the Odds: She overcame abuse, drug use and lack of education. Four years ago she founded Breaking Free by Faith in south St. Petersburg. It houses, feeds and clothes up to forty people who are in recovery from many different kinds of problems and addictions, all without government funding. By Bonnie L. Quick 

Danny Stevens, Lebanon Station (near Gainesville), Florida. Winning Benefactor: Danny bought 21 acres as an investment but fell in love with the terrain. He has turned it into a serene park open to the public. By Jane Edwards 

Dan Smith and Steve Goff, Bushnell Florida, Winning Samaritans: I recommend these men who do meaningful things in a modest way for the people of small town Bushnell, Florida. Dan Smith and Steve Goff, the owners and managers of the Bushnell Trailer Court go above and beyond their required action to accommodate people. They put on events during the holidays for elderly people with no family, they often allow tenants who have hit upon hard times to slide on a bill so they can eat, and several other usually not done actions common to landlords. By Stephen Ayers

Dave Rauskolb, Seaside, Florida.  Winning Environmentalist: Dave is the owner of an incredible successful gourmand restaurant right on the gulf beach. When he first opened in the early eighties, there was an existential conflict between his being a devoted surfer dude and running a business. If there was good surf, the business lost. Eventually he grew his business to enormous success but his story reinvented itself when the Horizon oil platform blew up in the gulf. He had been an environmental activist long before and had begun “Hands Across the Sands”, an annual event where people come down to the beach and hold hands for a moment to show their commitment to protecting our resources. When the oil spill happened that organization went international. All over the world people came to their beach at a designated time and formed a protective line holding hands.  By Eileen West

Diane Meyer, Palm Springs, Florida. Winning Citizen/Samaritan: My friend, Diane Meyer is a quiet and unassuming person who does not realize that every person has an impact on so many lives. She and her husband are “late bloomers” who got married at later than an average age, but made each moment count. They have Hearts -of-Gold and are proud parents of 11 lucky pets. Their contribution to the community cannot be overstated because many of the local churches have Sunday Christians, but these two live their faith in visiting sick people in hospitals and being supportive friends in times of trouble. I know they will enjoy their reward in Heaven but they deserve recognition in their everyday loving ways and in living exemplary lives! By Michele A. Raphael

Doreen and Oliver Bauer, Cedar Key Florida. Winning Benefactors: Doreen and Oliver Bauer have contributed blood, sweat, and tears to the feral cat overpopulation problem within their small island community of Cedar Key, Florida, by providing shelter for the cats, organizing volunteers to assist with the TNR program, and finding homes for some. The Bauers are true hometown heroes. By Ann Burch

Doug at the Oxford House, Cape Coral, Florida. Winng Humanitarian: The Oxford Houses are a national concept in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In its simplest form, an Oxford House describes a democratically run, self-supporting and drug free home. It is a national phenomenon and, in our town, Doug is a man who is saving lives by bringing it to Florida. Doug has accomplished something that has never been done before in the Oxford House history. In Cape Coral/Fort Meyers/Charlotte County, he has set up SEVEN Oxford houses in the space of 12 months. This is an incredible accomplishment and has saved many lives. The national group of Oxford houses will now plough a lot of money into Florida, thanks to Doug. Although this is an anonymous set up for those recovering from alcohol and drug abuse, Doug wants to share his story in the hope it will help others. Doug is a winner within us, without a doubt! By Isabel Stewart

Fernando Castro, Gainesville, Florida, Winner Against the Odds: While planning his escape from Cuba, Fernando was arrested for counter-revolutionary behavior and imprisoned. When he was released he set off for Florida on a two-man raft with his brother. After three days at sea they were rescued by the Coast Guard. He now works as a janitor in a Gainesville school but hopes someday to once again practice his profession, a draftsman. By Jane Edwards

Freddie Granger, Orlando Florida. Winner Against the Odds: He’s 59 years old and lives in a Rosewood Nursing and Care Center…by choice.  When he was 32 years old, he drunkenly stumbled onto some railroad tracks and passed out.  Unbeknownst to him, a train was making its stealthy way to  Freddie.  Luckily, he never knew what hit him.  He awoke in the hospital to find both his legs  and his right arm missing.  Though he had been dealt this crushing blow, Freddie emminates such a palpable peace and calm, as though he is the most fortunate man in the world.  And he’ll  tell you such.  Chosing to live in a nursing home, rather than with his family is part of his extraordinary history and story. By Gina

Gar Vivian, Gainesville, Florida, Winning Citizen: Has been involved at every level of Gainesville’s black community, as a director in the nursing school at Santa Fe Community College, as an organizer for the fund drive to save the Blue Note (a honky tonk in the 1920s), as one of the founders of an after-school program for at-risk kids, and as a singer who harmonizes with her sisters as the Washington Sisters. Vivian is an institution unto herself. By Jane Edwards

Gary Bone, Gainesville, Florida, Winning Educator: Gary is an art teacher at Oak Hall School. Every spring and summer he organizes groups of kids to travel to Andros Island where they help improve the island’s school with such projects as a new basketball court, a computer lab, and a library. The Gainesville kids also tutor the Andros kids, and the Andros kids teach the Gainesville kids about island life. After the hurricanes, Gary spearheaded a book collection to replace the destroyed library and classrooms. By Jane Edwards

Howard Solomon, Arcadia, Florida. Winning Merchant: Howard created Solomon’s Castle, a 30-year-old tourist attraction on 90 acres of land that he must sell because of his failing health. By Jane Edwards

Joshua Johnson. Orlando Florida. Winning Citizen/Benefactor: Joshua Johnson, University of Central Florida professor, is a Winner Within Us because he heads the campaign Rethink Homelessness, which has drummed up national attention to Orlando’s homelessness epidemic. Last year, one of the campaign’s videos, “Cardboard Stories,” went viral with 5 million YouTube views. For the video, campaign volunteers gave homeless individuals pieces of cardboard and asked them to write something about themselves they’d like viewers to know. By Teresa Edmund

Karen Karle Truman,PhD, Tampa, Florida, Winning Samaritan: Karen founded Dementia Caregivers Resources, Inc., to give support and information to caregivers of Alzheimer’s sufferers and other dementia patients. Truman was the Social Worker for the now unfunded Huntington’s Disease Foundation at USF. All her services are free. She has touched thousands of lives. By Bonnie L. Quick

Ken Rohl, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Winning Educator: Ken Rohl is a natural health educator from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, specializing in rejuvenation and cellular regeneration using raw and sprouted vegetarian food, herbs, food-based natural supplements, detoxification, emotional healing, ancient esoteric techniques, and cutting edge science. Formally educated in electrical engineering and computer science, Ken worked for 23 years in the medical industry, from the patient level drawing blood in hospital emergency rooms, to the national policy level, showing healthcare executives how to implement technology. In 2006 Ken was honored to work with Coretta Scott King, wife of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today he helps people locally and around the world. By Stefan Alessio Ingannamorte

Lesley Blackner, Palm Beach, Florida, Winning Activist: Lesley is an attorney and an organizer for the Florida Hometown Democracy campaign that rallies against growth junkies. By Jane Edwards
LoraKim Joyner and Meredith Garmon, Gainesville, Florida, Winning Clergy: LoraKim and Meredith are the ministers at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. They moved to Gainesville with their two adopted sons, teenage Central Americans, and have spearheaded the fellowship to adopt a wide variety of social projects to spread justice throughout the community. By Jane Edwards

Lynn Groce, Gainesville, Florida, Winning Humanitarian: Lynn has been seen for decades driving around town in his little truck to pick up furniture and appliances that he delivers to the needy through his organization, Christians Concerned for the Community. The organization also offers budgeting classes to the uneducated, as well as other assistance, such as yard work and counseling. Lynn truly lives the selfless message of Christ. By Jane Edwards

Madeline Robinson, Tampa Florida. Winning Caregiver: The same problem continuously plagued Madeline Robinson as she carried out her volunteer duties year after year. Having worked with children’s charities most of her life, Robinson felt a great burden for children with mobility challenges. All too often, she observed a child in a wheelchair that was too small, or held together with duct tape and in disrepair. Insurance companies would only replace wheelchairs every five years regardless of the child’s size or condition. Robinson couldn’t stand to see these kids suffer with discomfort, pressure sores, scoliosis and respiratory problems. Hence, Wheelchairs4Kids was born. By Michelle Cook Kaufmann

Margarita Oteiza, Miami, Florida, Winner Against the Odds: As a college student in Cuba during the revolution, Margarita smuggled guns under her skirts to the rebels. Her handsome young husband disappeared in the Bay of Pigs. But when the rebels became dictators and tortured her friends, she fled to Miami where she taught school and became a symbol of the island’s exotic sophistication that even war cannot destroy. By Jane Edwards

Mary Zipprer, Lake Wales, Florida, Winning Senior: Mary, 92, was raised on hundreds of acres her rancher parents bought for pennies. She remembers her father’s cattle drives to Tampa, and her mother sewing clothes for people in town in order to put food on the table. She has fought to preserve her ranch from developers. By Jane Edwards

Olive and Frank Schulte, Cooks Hammock (near Gainesville), Florida. Winning Benefactor: The Schultes donated 2,481 acres to the Suwannee River Water Management District for preservation. It is believed that Osceola camped on this property before he was captured. By Jane Edwards
Scott Camus, Gainesville, Florida, Winning Veteran: Scott is a Vietnam veteran who was one of the founders of Veterans for Peace in Gainesville. He visits schools and describes the realities of war and his role in atrocities. By Jane Edwards

Pamela Rogan, Melbourne Florida,  Winning Benefactor:  She is the founder of Harmony Farms, Melbourne, Florida. Horses for handicapped pretty much sums up what she does. It is a charitablPe institution that provides therapy for handicapped children and adults and also war veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. This would be a great story for the magazine because it is something unique. Not everyone has a calling to open a farm for handicapped people. By Damayanti Chandrasekhar

Robert and Daryl Davis, LeCorbusier, Florida. Winning Citizens: Inherited 80 acres of pristine beachfront and took an unconventional approach to development in the early 80s. They recreated the Utopian town plan of and made history with Seaside. Their foundation now supports “new urbanism” all over the world and their development won the Pris de Rome, for starters. By Jessica West

Sara Blakely, Florida, USA. Winner in Business: Sara Blakely, owner of Spanx, a women undergarment brand, is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. At 29 years of age, she was trying to find something flattering to wear under her white slacks; six months later, she came up with her own range of products! Blakely has taken her enterprise from a one-man, one-product show to annual sales of $250 million. Her net worth is $1.1 billion and she owns 100% of her empire. By Shan Nasir

Sharon Detmer Bomse, Inverness, Florida. Winning Teacher: Sharon lived in Inverness  most of her life until she died on September 1, 2002 from a heart attack and a brain stem stroke. She is a winner due to her inspirational touch as a Teacher at Citrus High School and Renaissance Center before her untimely death.  By Jordan Bomse

Sister Hazel, Gainesville, Florida, Winning Clergy: Sister Hazel shot to fame when a local band took her name. For decades Hazel has run a ministry that houses, clothes, and feeds the homeless. By Jane Edwards

Stetson Kennedy, Jacksonville, Florida, Winning Senior: Kennedy infiltrated the KKK in the 1940’s. His book Unmasking the Klan revealed Klan absurdities and secrets. Woody Guthrie was in Kennedy’s home when the KKK tried to murder Kennedy. Kennedy is now in his 90’s and recently donated his home in south Jacksonville for preservation. By Jane Edwards

Steve Noll, Gainesville, Florida, Winning Educator: Steve received teacher of the year twice from the Alachua County School Board and twice as a UF professor. He is also a Christa McAuliffe award recipient and has been featured in National Geographic for his work teaching computers to handicapped kids. He has written two history books on the treatment of the handicapped in Florida and is currently working on a book about the cross-state barge canal. By Jane Edwards

Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed, Daytona Beach Florida. Winning Educator: She is the fifth President of Bethune-Cookman College and the first woman to serve in this capacity since College founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. She has developed the nation’s first academic minor in Black Families Studies and has broken fund-raising records over the past few years with $30.5 million raised, the most in the history of the college. She has consulted with the U.S. Secretary of Education and attended two United Nations Decade Conferences for Women in Copenhagen, Denmark and Nairobi, Kenya. Dr. Reed was elected as the chair person of the Foundation for the Mid South and chairperson for the Council of Presidents of the Black College Fund. She was voted one of the 100 most successful Arkansas Women and serves on numerous other boards and organizations. By Diana Montane

Tyler MacDonald, Naples, Florida. Winning Artist:  Tyler is a nationally-acclaimed wildlife photographer. His subjects include underwater photography, all sorts of animals, and landscapes. Tyler placed second in National Geographic’s National Wildlife Photography competition. The most amazing part is that Tyler has accomplished all this at the age of 15! He is self-taught, and worked tirelessly to further his craft since starting at 13 years old. Now, he earns over $2000 a month selling his work at art fairs. His work can be found at tylerswildphotos.com He is most definitely a winner. By Zach Zelner

Tyrone Keys, Tampa Florida. Winning Humanitarian: He was a Super Bowl champion with the 1985 Chicago Bears. Additionally, he founded a successful community organization to help disadvantaged children. Tyrone Keys runs All Sports Community Service with the intent of giving kids opportunities and responsibilities as they pursue their higher education dreams. His organization has made a positive impact in the entire Tampa Bay Area. By Michael Murillo

Vera Foote, Palm Bay, Florida.Winning Citizen: Although 80 years young, Vera recently lost her dear husband Bill, yet she continues to volunteer at hospice, at her church and in her community. She also holds down a part time job. She takes time to call her friends and family and she is a doting grandmother, a loving friend. By Rosemary L. Murray

Wendy Richter, Crystal River, Florida. Winning Athlete: She is a former WWE wrestler. She wrestled under her real name in the WWF and wrestled for the company in 1983 until 1985. Furthermore, she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2010. By Jordan Bomse

Yaw Shangofemi, Hawthorne (near Gainesville), Florida. Winning Artist: Artist and blacksmith, Yaw crafts custom wrought iron without modern technology, keeping the ancient tradition alive. By Jane Edwards

Yogesh Pathak, Tampa, Florida. Winner Against the Odds:  Yogesh received a diagnosis of Stage 4 kidney cancer that had spread to his lungs, pancreas, leg, spleen, skull and brain in June 2004. Despite being told he would be lucky to see Christmas, seven years and half years later, Yogesh is still fighting cancer, beating the odds and is in the process of creating The War On Cancer Foundation to provide a haven for other cancer victims and especially their families. Yogesh feels the caregivers need just as much help dealing with the diagnosis as the actual patient. He wants those facing a cancer diagnosis to know that he is living proof – there are exceptions to every statistic. By Deb Kelley

Zach Bonner, Tampa Florida, Winning Youth: He is 13 years old and lives in Tampa, Fl. At the age of 7, Zach started the Little Red Wagon Foundation for homeless children. He walked from Tampa to Talahasee and then to Atlanta, raising $42,000 for his cause. I think this would be a great story for winning youths. To be inspired at the age of 7, to look beyond his own needs and serve the needs of kids who are worse off than himself, is truly amazing. It just goes to show that even kids (with the few resources available to them) CAN make a difference. By Damayanti Chandrasekhar