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News Story
Updated: 02/16/2017 08:30:01AM

Palms Foundation hosts annual benevolent banquet

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Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Palms of Sebring staff offer appetizers at a butler pass that precded the Palms Foundation's annual banquet and its five-course gourmet meal.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Palms Foundation chairman Paul Devlin greeted guests as they etered The Palms of Sebring on Thursday evening.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Sampling appetizers at a butler pass prior to dinner were Shirley Whidden (from left), Betty Askin and Sherri Whidden.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

County commissioner Don Elwell was once again master of ceremonies for the Palms Foundation's annual banquet.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Musical entertainment was by the Osborne String Trio. Comprising the group is Diane Osborne (from left), Nuno Norpero and Peggy Essex-Klammer.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

John Rarick, director of operations for Covington Investment LLC, owner of The Palms of Sebring, came from Ohio to join the annual celebration.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Former Palms Foundation chairman Ray Shwart was honored for her years of dedication with a plaque presented by current chairman Paul Devlin.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Harry Johnson, a past chairman of the Palms Foundation, was in attendance at a Thursday, Feb. 9 annual meeting at The Palms of Sebring.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Representing Comfort Keepers at the Palms Foundation banquet were Patti Foster (from left), Middy Shelden and Christal Ramirez.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Master of ceremonies Don Elwell (left) and Palms Foundation chairman Paul Devlin.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Avin Movton (clockwise from left), Valerie Taylor, Linda Campbell, Johneen Shirey, Molly Starkey and Palms Foundation treasurer April Harris. They are all from the accounting firm of Wicks, Brown, Williams & Co.

Mat Delaney/Highlands Sun

Master of ceremonies Don Elwell congratulates Palms of Sebring cheft MacGregor Gentleman (in white) for a fabulous gourmet dinner. Gentleman, in turn, deflected praise to his team.


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SEBRING –– Hundreds of dignitaries and guests were on hand Thursday evening, Feb. 9 when The Palms Foundation hosted its annual banquet to benefit the benevolent care fund to senior citizens and agencies in the community dedicated to care for the elderly.

The evening opened with an invocation by Rev. Cecil Hess, chaplain at The Palms of Sebring, followed by a welcome from Jon Rarick, director of operations for Covington Investment LLC, owners of The Palms of Sebring. He made the trip from Ohio to spend a week at the Sebring facility, adding his experience was “remarkable” and reflects the values stressed by his company.

Palms Foundation chairman Paul Devlin made a special presentation to past chairman John Swihart for his dedication to the foundation and residents of The Palms of Sebring. Also on hand and recognized were past chairpesons Harry Johnson and Ingra Gardner.

Helping keep a festive mood with lots of humor was master of ceremonies Don Elwell. His lively banter and cutting humor kept the audience spellbound.

The highlight of the evening was a five-course gourmet dinner prepared by Chef MacGregor Gentleman and his staff.

The meal opened with a fresh berry salad with baby greens, toasted pine nuts and a got cheese baquette with raspberry vinaigrette. That was followed by chicken roulade with broccoli flan and a smoked gouda cheese cream sauce. Served next was marinated garlic shrimp with curried basmati rice; leading up to grilled filet mignon with french onion potato lyonnaise, baby carrots and a port wine roquefort sauce. Dessert was a decadent many and guava cheese cake.

Door prizes were awarded throughout the evening and included gifts from Helen Ferry of Berkshire Hathaway, the Palms Activities Department, Palms Wellness Department, The Palms Foundation, The Deport restaurant in Avon Park, Paul Devlin, and the marketing department from The Palms of Sebring.

A silent auction brought spirited bidding for items ranging from painted ceramic plates to golf outings and dinners, as well as theatre tickets to the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts in Avon Park and an airboat wildlife adventure.

Live auction items were donated by Lampe & Keifer Hearing Aid Center, a 70-inch television from Highlands Regional Medical Center and a gourmet meal for four from Chef MacGregor Gentleman. That dinner netted over $500 for the Palms Foundation.

“The purpose is to provide temporary help when funds have been depleted and people are no longer able to pay for quality of life needs,” according to mission statement included in the evening’s program. Those needs include medications, dental care, hearing aids or repairs ,eye glasses, wheelchairs and even beauty shop appointments. “Residents’ needs are handled confidentially so their privacy and dignity is honored.

“With government program cutbacks, the need for benevolence at the Palms of Sebring far exceeds to funds distributed. Your continued support for this vitally important mission will be to ensure these resources will aways be available.”

Special thanks went to sponsors Lampke & Keifer Hearing Aid Center; Drs. Thakker, Patel and Avalos; Highlands Regional Medical Center; Compassionate Care Hospice; Avon Park Meals on Wheels; Positive Medical Transport; The Palms of Sebring; Good Shepherd Hospice; Nu-Hope Elder Care Services; Palms Rehab; Vitas HealthCare; Ray and Ellen Swihart; and the Highlands News-Sun.

Special recognition went to the banquet planning committee of Julia Mercer, Chef Gentleman, Paul Devlin, April Harris, Ingra Gardner, Nancy Hawk, Chevonne Foster, Rob Richmond, Thomas Wood, Barbara Kesselring, Paul Staik and Adele Dornheim.

In charge of decorations for the annual banquet were Julia Mercer, Crystal Hillier, Schyler Scott, Ridge Area ARC, Cora Schwingel, Adele Dornheim, Sharon Reynolds, RSVP volunteers, the Phi Theta Kappa chapter from South Florida State College, Ingra Gardner and Nancy Hawk.