40 Desserts and So Much More: Oh, It Was Sweet!
The eight center banquet tables were laden with a record 40 desserts created by pastry chefs, master bakers and others.
On one side of the Payne Park Auditorium space were more tables, filled with silent auction offerings. On the other side of the room were hot and cold "light bites," along with a table displaying offerings for the live auction.
The celebrity judging team -- Florida Rep. Ray Pilon, Sarasota Commissioner Carolyn Mason, ABC/7 reporter Max Winitz, Herald-Tribune columnist Tom Lyons, and former city commissioner and mayor Fredd Atkins -- tasted their way through all 40 sweet treats. It was hard work, but somebody had to do it. Each rated the desserts numerically, and then their numbers were totaled.
The highest rating resulted in a tie for first place: the Cheesecake from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and the Bete Noir flourless chocolate cake from Madfish Grill.
Taking second spot was the Carrot Cake also from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse.
Rated third was revelry's Triple Layer Chocolate Fudge Cake with Espresso Buttercream Filling.
Fleming's and Madfish Grill have been "Just Desserts" supporters since the event was created in 2009 -- and have won the judges' favor more than once before. This was the first year of participation for rev-el-ry.
Saying thanks is a long list:
To our sponsors: First Congregational United Church of Christ, Florida Winefest & Auction, Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Cares, Shumaker Loop & Kendrick, The Pelletz Family and Total Wine & More.
To our 28 dessert donors.
To our dozens of silent and live auction item donors.
To the Al Hixon Jazz Ensemble for great music the fourth year in a row.
To Rodney and Rev. Roger Shenk for their musical gifts.
To Pastor John W. Walker Jr. for offering the invocation.
To our celebrity judges.
To auctioneer Pam McCurdy.
To Bahia Vista Mennonite Church for lending 16 round tables.
To Julie Martelo, for planning the decorations.
And to the dozens of Family Promise of Sarasota volunteers, especially PowerPoint producer Rick Barry, kitchen team coordinator Ellie Stoll, photographer Joel Servetz, mistress of ceremonies Wendy Leventhal and all the hard workers of the "Just Desserts" Planning Committee.
Here are just a few photos.
Auctioneer Pam McCurdy working the room.
Marsha Albert, Nancy Levine and Dick Smothers.
Rodney and Rev. Roger Shenk.
Rick Barry, Sharon Meyer, Sue Barry, Pete Meyer.
Fredd Atkins, Rep. Ray Pilon, Sheila Atkins.
Drummer and band leader Al Hixon.
Photos by Joel Servetz, RGB Media Sevices, LLC
Look for more photos soon on the Family Promise website and on our Facebook page.
-- Jean Etsinger
"Just Desserts" founder and chair
'Just Desserts' Sponsors Donate Seating to Families
By Caroline Chambliss
Director of Development
For this year's "Just Desserts," two generous sponsors made it possible for graduates of the Family Promise program and current family members to attend.
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Cares, a Gold sponsor, qualified for a VIP table for eight. Rather than send their own attendees, they offered all of their seats to graduates of the Family Promise program.
The Pelletz Family, a Bronze sponsor, had two reserved seats. They made these available to current family members.
A total of nine family members were present. Child care was arranged for the parents utilizing funds from the REACH (Recreation, Education, Afterschool Care and Holidays) program, funded in part by the Five Talent Fund.
It was a fun opportunity for members of the families we serve to enjoy the camaraderie of many of the volunteers who have served as mentors, coaches and friends.
Notes from the National Family Promise Conference
By Wendy Fitton
The 14th Family Promise National Conference, held in Long Beach, Cal., on April 8-10, attracted many staff, board members and volunteers from all over the country. With over 200 affiliates now in operation, this was a weekend of productive networking and workshops to help local organizations provide the best and most up-to-date services and assistance to thousands of families nationwide experiencing a crisis of homelessness.
For the first time, the conference was nearly paperless. Attendees used an online app on their smart phones to access conference information -- the workshop schedule, biographies of speakers,
Scene at one of the sessions at the national meeting.
listings of not-for-profit partners, and pdf files of workshop handouts.
Workshops -- targeted for staff, board members or volunteers -- covered a broad variety of topics. I attended these:
About the Color of Napkins: a practical look at do's and don'ts of effective board meetings and board orientation.
Achoo: best practices for addressing health situations, managing infectious conditions and helping families secure necessary wellness support.
Networking: about building connections, not collecting business cards.
Not Every Congregation Is a Congregation: hosting and support in affiliates can also come from hospitals, colleges, business and civic groups, and more. Affiliates are looking beyond houses of worship and the faith community for volunteers.
There Are No Obstacles, Just Opportunities.
I also attended a round-table discussion for low-budget (less than $120k) affiliates that focused on networking and common issues.
Claas Ehlers was introduced as the new national Family Promise president, succeeding founder Karen Olson, who retired. Presenters included Dr. Robert Marbut, the national expert on homelessness hired as a consultant locally a few years ago.
National conferences, held every 18 months, provide a wealth of information and opportunities for networking to renew and refresh the vision of assisting the families we serve. The next one will be held in Fall 2017 in Washington, D.C.
A Volunteer Finds Purpose in Child's Success at School
This note came from a volunteer after she learned that one of the children in our program had received improved grades in all areas of study after entering the shelter program.
Lately I've been faced with something of a crisis of purpose and whether or not anything I do makes any sort of a difference to anyone. Seeing this [the news of the child's improved grades] helps me realize that I don't have to be Marie Curie, Duchess Kate or even Wendy Fitton to have a meaningful impact on a life.
It doesn't have to be grand gestures or newsworthy or have a far-reaching, world peace-inducing effect. I'm never going to change the world. But perhaps one of the people that I brush up against, offer a word of encouragement to, or just sit quietly beside and provide a sense of security and stability and an example that there is a possibility of a better life will be the one who changes the world -- and that in some small way, so will I.
Go me! Go all of us who volunteer! Go everyone who makes a concerted effort to be kind and project positive energy into the universe! We can make a difference. And that's definitely not nothing.
-- Toska Strong
First Congregational UCC volunteer
Two Fashion Shows Are Benefits for Family Promise
Many thanks to two organizations whose fashion shows in February were held to raise funds in support of Family Promise of Sarasota.
All Angels By the Sea Episcopal Church, one of our support congregations, hosted a show at the Bird Key Yacht Club on Feb. 17 as a Family Promise fund raiser.
Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority presented an event at the Field Club on Feb. 29 for which Family Promise was one of two benefiting agencies.
Board member Sandee Davis represented Family Promise on both occasions.