By Tamas Mondovics

For more than half a century, the Brandon-based senior ladies social group, also known as the Brandon Newcomers Club, has set an example of supporting the members of its namesake community.

The most recent recipients that have experienced the club’s generosity in the form of financial support included two local charities, including Hugs of Florida, represented by Paula Keyser and Paws for Patriots, led by the organization’s community outreach coordinator, Michael Jernigan, who was joined by his K-9 seeing-eye dog companion, Brittini.

Both organizations received a $1,050 donation from the Newcomers during the morning meeting held at the Brandon Community Recreation Center at 502 E. Sadie Street, along with what club members call a much-deserved recognition.

The Newcomers also gave $620 to Relay for Life, represented by Ann Renee Rehm.

The money was raised by the club members at its annual Make It, Bake It, Sew It and Grow It auction this past November.

“Our members donate items which they have themselves made, baked, sewn or grown,” Newcomers, club vice-president and chair of the charity committee, Mary Ann Clark, said and thanked the donation recipients for their hard work on behalf of the community and its cause.

“It is an honor for us to present this financial support to these charities,” Clark said, adding, “Our donations are to assist them with whatever is necessary to help them with their efforts.”

Hugs of Florida, Inc. a volunteer-based support group for families with Hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, was established in 2004 and qualified to become a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization earlier this year.

“I am very humbled to receive this donation,” said Keyser, whose son Jeremy was diagnosed with   Hydrocephalus shortly after birth. “Hugs of Florida will use the money to educate other families as well as host future events that promote research.”

Paws for Patriots started in 2006 to serve active duty soldiers and retired servicemen and women with the respect and dignity they deserve.

It is represented locally by Jernigan, who while serving in Afghanistan, lost his eyesight when a roadside bomb exploded.

“Our organization’s goal is to provide guide dogs to our veterans, a provision that I now benefit from thanks to my companion, Brittini,” Jernigan said. “The confidence that these dogs can bring to their owners is priceless.”

Jernigan emphasized that thanks to the generosity of organizations like the Newcomers Club, Paws for Patriots assisted close to 100 veterans so far.

For more information about the Brandon Newcomers, please contact Re Dangremond at 643-3281.

For information or to support Hugs of Florida please visit or email to For information about Paws for Patriots, please visit


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