Audrey Ross and Patricia Frost were the only Deering Estate board members at the Foundation’s first meeting. They then invited publicist Sandy Tinsley, and local attorney Don Kubit to join them in forming the organization. The year was 1988, and the Deering Estate at Cutler had just become a public institution after being owned for more than a half-century by Charles Deering and his descendants.
Fast-forward to 2013, when now the Deering Estate at Cutler is regarded as a ‘crown jewel’ of Miami-Dade County Parks and Open Spaces, and 35 dedicated board members and trustees are gathered together at the Visitor’s Center for their annual meeting, installations and award ceremony. Audrey Ross was honored with the distinguished rank of Trustee for the Deering Estate Foundation, and David McDonald and Christine Stiphany joined the Board of Directors. Howard Tendrich was also welcomed back to the Board, after a hiatus as Palmetto Bay Councilman.
Following the installations, Mary Pettit, Executive Director of the Deering Estate Foundation presented the Foundation’s 2012 Partner of the Year Awards to those people and organizations in our community who have made significant contributions to the ongoing development of the Estate and to the Foundation’s ability to fulfill its mission.
The Preservation Partner of The Year was awarded to the Batchelor Foundation and John and Suzuyo Fox, for their generous support in funding the reconstruction of the Cutler Burial Mound Boardwalk, providing continued access to this significant Tequesta archeological site. The Board walk is a centerpiece of the Estate’s programming that enables thousands of visitors and students each year to learn about the rich cultural history of South Florida.
“When you’re charged with being a steward of the Estate, it presents a responsibility to treasure what we have and to take care of it,” said Suzuyo Fox. “The Estate is all about environmental conservation and historic preservation, and is a rich resource for cultural arts and education.”
Andie Arthur from South Florida Theatre League accepted the award for Programming Partner of the Year. The Estate and South Florida Theatre League have a successful collaboration for the development of playwrights through a series of workshops, where a master playwright mentors a limited number of local aspiring theater writers.
Jennifer Tisthammer, Assistant Director of the Deering Estate at Cutler, explained that over the past seven years, the Estate’s Artist Village has gone from obscurity to a place that offers nationally recognized programs in literary, visual and performing arts. She credited the collaboration with Andie Arthur’s Theatre League as an instrumental component to the success of the Artist Village.
Breakthrough Miami received the Education Partner of the Year. This organization is an academic enrichment program for youth in underserved communities in Miami-Dade County. The Estate’s Educational and Interpretive Staff have partnered with the Breakthrough Miami site at Palmer Trinity to bring sciencebased hands on experiential learning to their young students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to these enrichment opportunities.
“On Saturdays, children who have never swam before are now snorkeling in Biscayne Bay and discovering the incredible undersea world,” said Alicia Rodriguez, Executive Director of Breakthrough Miami. “ At first the kids are hesitant to go into the water, but 45 minutes later we can’t get them out!”
Mary Pettit recognized South BMW as the Corporate Partner of the Year, for their loyalty and commitment to the Deering Estate Foundation and for being the Wine On Harvest Moon’s title sponsor for the past six years. Joe Perez from BMW said that the agency was proud to help the Estate raise funds and public awareness in the community.
The Village of Palmetto Bay was honored as Community Partner of the Year. Together with the staff at the Estate, the Village’s Departments of Public Works, Parks and Recreation and Police Department join forces on a regular basis to help ensure a quality experience for visitors to the Estate and Village where safety is paramount. They provide logistical support that is instrumental - especially for the Estate’s largest events that include the annual Valentine’s Day Concert and Deering Seafood Festival. Betty Noe and Paul Neidhardt received the Volunteer Partner of the Year awards for their unending support of the Estate – rain or shine, weekends or weeknights.
Betty revamped and continues to coordinate hundreds of volunteers for the annual Deering Seafood Festival, and Paul is the Estate’s “go to guy” for everything from managing the frozen drink bar at Foundation events, to assembling IKEA furniture for the offices. Their unlimited help at the Estate, while maintaining extraordinarily positive attitudes, make these two individuals exceptional volunteers.
The final presentation was given to Ashley Sodeman as Champion Partner of the Year. As the Foundation’s Executive Assistant, Ashley has worked with unbridled enthusiasm and dedication to the Foundation and its’ members for the past eight years and is now moving on to new opportunities. No one is saying good-bye though as Ashley plans to be back at the Estate as a volunteer to continue helping with the annual Deering Seafood Festival being held this year on Sunday, March 24th.
With the help and commitment of these organizations and individuals, the Deering Estate at Cutler and the Foundation continue to provide outstanding educational, social and recreational opportunities appropriately utilizing the rich and diverse resources our community has been blessed with while stewarding this historic treasure for future generations.
For more information on becoming a Foundation member of the historic Deering Estate at Cutler call 305.235-1668 x 253.
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