Local Rotarians and friends flaunted their most elegant tuxedos and gowns and sipped on martinis — shaken, not stirred — last weekend at the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach’s James Bond-themed Mineral City Celebration.
Held at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse, nearly 600 people attended “Titanium Night,” which supported KIPP Jacksonville Schools and Daniel Kids, among other First Coast charities. The club’s annual fundraiser on Saturday, April 7, featured several 007-themed activities, including a “Diamonds Are Forever” jewelry drawing, a “Casino Royale” silent auction and a “World Is Not Enough” raffle offering luxury trips to exotic destinations. Barbara Benevento won the raffle, giving her the opportunity to choose between trips to Australia, Hawaii, Ireland, Tuscany or Rome.
A “Live and Let Bid” live auction featured a $800 bottle of wine, a backyard barbecue provided by Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, a one-week stay an Old Ponte Vedra Beach condo and a Joan Miro lithograph. Attendees at the event — which was emceed by Channel 4 news anchor Kent Justice — also enjoyed dinner, music, dancing and entertainment from Bittersweet Studios. Sight & Sound Productions produced the event’s decorations, audio/visual and more.
Each year at the Mineral City Celebration, the local Rotary club presents the “Rock of the Community” award to someone who has made a valuable contribution to the community. This year’s dual honorees were Ponte Vedra Beach residents and First Coast philanthropists Gary and Nancy Chartrand, who have made significant contributions to education.
In 2007, Gary Chartrand led a community effort to bring Teach For America to Jacksonville, and in 2009, he and Nancy made a pledge gift to KIPP Schools of Jacksonville to help bring the first KIPP school to Florida. Over the past 15 years, the Chartrands, along with their Chartrand Foundation, have awarded over $50 million in gifts and grants for the advancement of the community. In addition to the award, the Rotary Club bestowed cufflinks and a necklace from Miriam’s Jewelry to the local couple.
“We are truly humbled to be honored tonight,” said Nancy Chartrand. “We can make a difference wherever possible, even if it is one act of kindness at a time.”
Gary Chartrand spoke extensively about KIPP Schools of Jacksonville, which prepares students from the city’s educationally underserved communities with necessary tools for success in college and life, at its two elementary schools and one middle school. The free, open-enrollment public charter schools serve 1,100 students in Jacksonville, with 1,200 students on the waiting list.
“I would tell you that this work is both difficult and sometimes heartbreaking, and on the other hand so very rewarding,” said Gary Chartrand, who is the executive chairman of Acosta. “We are making the difference in the lives of so many beautiful children.”