linda-johnson.jpgThe 2013-2014 South Florida fundraising season officially kicked off this past Saturday with several inspiring and memorable events.

Teal Over Miami was a smashing success as numerous friends and admirers of the late Lydia Green Ross gathered to support efforts to create gynecologic cancer awareness in her honor. Her daughter Carin Ross Johnson, founder of Lydia’s Legacy, orchestrated the second annual charity function at the Courtyard Marriott Coconut Grove to raise funds for research and education and to honor the legacy of her mother, a beloved South Dade community servant who passed in 2010 from uterine cancer.

Teal is the awareness ribbon color for gynecologic cancer awareness, so guests were donned in swank teal cocktail outfits and enjoyed a fun-filled evening of dinner, scrumptious desserts, dancing, networking, a silent auction and entertainment. Hosted this year by Betty Davis, lead meteorologist at WPLG Local 10, Teal Over Miami is just one of many activities held in Miami and Charlotte, N.C., to spread the word about the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among women.  Seen on the scene were members of the Church of the Ascension (Episcopal), AKA Sorority, The Links, Inc., and Jack and Jill of America, as well as Charles L. Ross Jr. (Lydia’s widower), Tere Ambriz, Marvelle McIntyre Hall and Eoline Watson.


The Brothers of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Lambda Omega Graduate Chapter, lit up the Fort Lauderdale community with their Brown and Gold Ball held at Diamente’s Banquet Center. In celebration of 50 years of community service, the evening  was hosted by Al “AC” Shaw, Hot 105 radio personality and fellow IPT. Highlights included a keynote speech by the organization’s former national president, Steven Birdine, and the feting of several community members for outstanding service:  Marsha A. Ellison, president, Fort Lauderdale Chapter of the NAACP; Nathaniel Green, Esq., president, Broward County Chapter of the National Pan Hellenic Council; and David Odige, president, I-Phit of Iota Phi Theta.

The group also honored the 2013 scholarship recipients and recognized previous honorees. Friends and supporters enjoyed a delectable supper and loads of dancing to the sounds of DJ Stanley Joseph. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the 2014 Ramon Looby Excellence in Leadership scholarship award program. Hats off to Berry Pierre, chapter president, and event chairs Jarvis Peters and  Larz E. Jeter III, for presenting a great evening for Broward County.


Elissa Vanaver, CEO at Breakthrough Miami, was all smiles as generous South Floridians poured into De La Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space in Miami’s trendy Design District for the first Support-A-Scholar Celebration. The mission of Breakthrough Miami is to support motivated middle school students in underserved communities to succeed academically, graduate from high school, and enter the nation’s top colleges and universities to pursue their aspirations. Patrons were treated to a visual cornucopia of outstanding art, including a live installation by local sculptor Jim Drain, as they mingled and danced. Thanks to the beneficence of philanthropists and gallery owners Carl and Rosa de la Cruz, the evening was a smashing success. Proceeds from the event will assist talented youth to participate in a year-round academic enrichment Saturday school program and intensive six-week summer institutes. Among those seen on the scene, in addition to the energetic Breakthrough Scholars, were  Webber Charles, Ron and Regina Frazier, Joanne Kane, Alan Kane, Monique Regis and Jamael Stewart. Congratulations to event chair Julianne McDowell and board members for a job well done.

Linda J. Johnson, a Miami native, is a veteran educator with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, a certified etiquette consultant, and also serves on nonprofit boards in the community. She can be reached at