• Inaugural Merrick Society Reception

    Posted on June 6th, 2013 admin No comments

    Bill Bonn, Robert Fewell

    (Coral Gables, Florida | June 6, 2013) An exceptional evening marked the inaugural reception for the Coral Gables Community Foundation’s Merrick Society as friends and supporters gathered in the Salon at the Riviera Country Club to enjoy camaraderie, drinks, and hors d’ouvres. Dedicated to continuing city founder George E. Merrick’s vision for Coral Gables, the Merrick Society represents the Foundation’s highest levels of giving where donors have made a three-year commitment of support.

    Over 50 guests in attendance included Vice Mayor William H. “Bill” Kerdyk, Jr., former Mayors Don Slesnick and Dorothy Thomson, long-serving city commissioner “Chip” Withers, Coral Gables Chamber CEO Mark Trowbridge, and prominent local philanthropists and civic-minded citizens, such as special guest Robert J. Fewell (picture above with Immediate Past Chair Bill Bonn).

    Foundation Executive Director Andria Hanley introduced the current Chair of the Foundation, Carlos F. Garcia who spoke about the Foundation’s 22-year history of directing $4 million dollars in charitable contributions in areas such as the arts and culture, education, health, culinary arts, and green space. Merrick Society level donors have made a significant local impact working with the Foundation in nurturing projects like the Coral Gables Art Cinema and the Coral Gables Museum, establishing scholarship funds, and restoring the Alhambra Water Tower through the PARKnership Fund. The Foundation currently manages nearly 30 funds established by individuals, families, companies, and organizations. With pride, Mr. Garcia mentioned that 100% of the Foundation’s current Board of Directors are Merrick Society members.

    Introducing the Foundation’s immediate past chair, William A. “Bill” Bonn, Esq., Mr. Garcia spoke of Bill Bonn’s commitment as one of the earliest supporters of the Merrick Society at the highest level.

    With a heartfelt personal story on how he came to live in Coral Gables and why his passion is to “Give where you live” in supporting Coral Gables through participating in the Coral Gables Community Foundation, Mr. Bonn described the rewarding satisfaction of creative local philanthropy as the ability to see your contribution make a difference, citing examples from the Foundation’s award-winning relationship with our local high school, including the Foundation’s Ponce Society of Young Professionals “Dress Shirt and Tie Drive” for the football team, T-shirts for Career Day, and the support of the High School’s Culinary Arts Program.

    Mr. Bonn then introduced “one of the most generous men in Coral Gables” the evening’s special guest Robert J. “Bob” Fewell, and recognized Mr. Fewell as the first lifetime member of the Merrick Society for his contribution of $100,000.

    Sharing his love of George Merrick’s vision and the city of Coral Gables, Mr. Fewell spoke briefly about George Merrick’s vision and how fortunate the city is all these years later because of him.

    The evening concluded with special thanks from Foundation Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Karelia M. “Kare” Carbonell, head of the Foundation’s Development Committee, who brought together this dedicated group of philanthropists for this special occasion, and established a new tradition for the Foundation.

    FOR MORE PHOTOS, visit our Facebook Photo Album.

    Ann Goodman, Cheryl Goldstein, Coco Torre, and Kare Carbonell

    Ann Goodman, Cheryl Goldstein, Coco Torre, and Kare Carbonell

    Don Slesnick, Carlos Garcia, and William Colas

    Don Slesnick, Carlos Garcia, and William Colas

    Tony Rogers, Bill Bonn, Michael Gold

    Tony Rogers, Bill Bonn, and Michael Gold

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    For more information, contact: Andria Hanley, Executive Director
    Coral Gables Community Foundation
    ahanley@gablesfoundation.org | 305-446-9670

  • Gables Foundation welcomes new board member: Dr. Andy Gomez

    Posted on November 11th, 2012 mbokor No comments

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    The Coral Gables Community Foundation recently welcomed a new board member, Dr. Andy S. Gomez, who serves as special assistant for international affairs at the University of Miami.

    “I have seen and admire the work of the foundation in our community, which is very important,” said Dr. Gomez. “Chair Bill Bonn asked me to join the board and I could not turn it down.”

    Dr. Gomez was born in Cuba and left the country with his family early in 1961. Now a resident of Coral Gables, he has come to develop a sincere adoration for “The City Beautiful.”

    As a board member, Dr. Gomez intends to promote further community involvement throughout the Gables. He believes its active citizens, diversity and rich history are what make the Gables such an extraordinary place to live.

    “Coral Gables is very special because [of its] citizen involvement,” said Dr. Gomez, who was recently selected as one of South Florida’s most influential Hispanics. “It has a great history and great people of all walks of life living in it.”

    In addition to his new role at the Coral Gables Community Foundation, Dr. Gomez holds an array of prestigious positions, many of which attest to his dedication of the Gables.

    He serves on the board of directors of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce (as UM’s representative) and on the city of Coral Gables Budget and Audit Advisory Committee.

    Dr. Gomez has also held many leadership positions at UM, serving as dean of the School of International Studies from 2001-2004 and assistant provost for planning, institutional research and assessment from 2005-2012. He was also on the board of trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities from 2008-2012.

    An academic scholar in the field of Cuban studies, Dr. Gomez is a senior fellow at UM’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. His involvement with Cuban studies ranges from teaching various courses at UM to lecturing extensively at national and international conferences. A consultant on Cuban issues to ABC News, Dr. Gomez is also a member of the Cuba Corps Advisory Board and was a Nonresident Senior Fellow for the Brookings Institution’s Cuban Foreign Policy Program from 2008-2010.

    “The Coral Gables Community Foundation is very fortunate to have a new board member with the breadth of experience and the depth of educational background of Dr. Gomez,” said Mr. Bonn, the foundation chair. “We will value the viewpoints expressed by Dr. Gomez in his new role on our board and look forward to working with him to make Coral Gables an even better city in which to live.”

    Dr. Gomez said he is looking forward to channeling all of his experience into his work with the Coral Gables Community Foundation as he continues to emphasize the importance of community participation.

    “Every person at some time in their life should get involved in their community in some way,” Dr. Gomez said. “It is what makes our democracy so great.”

  • Alhambra Water Tower advocates reach $70,000 goal

    Posted on June 15th, 2012 mbokor No comments

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    A preservation-minded group of Coral Gables residents has reached its $70,000 goal for the recently completed rehabilitation of the historic Alhambra Water Tower, thanks to a couple’s $13,000 donation that culminated a two-year fundraising campaign.

    In honor of the accomplishment, the Coral Gables City Commission proclaimed May 22, 2012 as “Save the Alhambra Water Tower Day in Coral Gables” and presented a proclamation to members of the grassroots committee.

    “The fun and exhaustion the committee members shared to see this worthy project through is now a part of our personal history and the history of the city of Coral Gables,” said Kendell Turner, who with fellow resident Roxcy Bolton formed the “Save the Alhambra Water Tower” group in 2010.

    “We hope that the efforts of the hundreds of citizens – and the Alhambra Water Tower itself – will serve as a beacon for the importance of preserving all of the city’s historical monuments for future generations,” Ms. Turner said.

    Rehabilitation of the tower – built in 1924 to resemble a lighthouse and conceal a water tank and equipment – cost approximately $300,000.

    Sharing the cost was the Federal Emergency Management Agency ($185,000) because of damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005. The city of Coral Gables allocated $45,000. The committee reached its $70,000 target with a $13,000 gift from residents Rod Hildebrant and Matthew Meehan, a board member of the Coral Gables Community Foundation.

    “The main reason our community is such a fine place to live is because of our involved and caring residents. This Alhambra Water Tower initiative proves that point,” said Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk. “I appreciate the countless hours the committee members worked to preserve one of our community’s unique treasures.”

    Mr. Kerdyk, who in the late 1990s created the public-private PARKnership initiative at the Coral Gables Community Foundation, directed a $20,000 donation to the committee to kick-start fundraising.

    With 100% of the proceeds going to the cause, the citizens’ committee continued to raise money through such efforts as lectures, selling note cards depicting the tower, operating the Alhambra Water Tower Art Gallery, providing educational preservation information at the Coral Gables Farmers’ Market and seeking private donations.

    Located at 2000 Alhambra Circle near the intersections of Greenway Court and Ferdinand Street, the tower has received lime-based paint on exterior walls. The doors, keyhole windows, decorative balustrade and its sundial and murals have been recreated.

    Additional improvements included new interior stairs to replace the deteriorated wooden stairs, improvements to the tower’s electrical system and installation of a climate-controlled ventilation system.

    Members of the “Save the Alhambra Water Tower” grassroots group include Ms. Turner, Ms. Bolton, Raul R. Rodriguez, Mike McEachen, Amy Kutell, Claudia Bardasano, Jane Maranos, Claire Frances Whitehurst, Carol Davy, Don Queralto, Bruce Fitzgerald, Julie Petrella Arch, Katherine Kahiler, Ana Collengette, Jorge Cabal and Bill Bonn, chairman of the Coral Gables Community Foundation.

    “The Coral Gables Community Foundation is proud to administer funds such as the PARKnership Fund, which was the vehicle that helped facilitate this fundraising process,” Mr. Bonn said. “Any way we can assist people who want to do good in our community is an absolute pleasure.”

    Although it reached its $70,000 goal, the committee continues to raise funds to provide benches in the park surrounding the landmark.

    For more information, email alhambrawatertower@gmail.com or visit the group on Facebook: Alhambra Water Tower.