By Kathy L. Collins

For more than 50 years, the Community Roundtable has been serving the greater Brandon community. Each year, the community comes together to celebrate the past year’s accomplishments and to recognize those in the community who have given of their time to make the area better. This year’s Community Affairs Dinner was held last month at Center Place in Brandon.

Ernest Hooper, a columnist with The Tampa Bay Times, served as the keynote speaker. He pondered, ‚ÄĚSometimes I wonder if I still want to live in Brandon.” He argued that the selfless spirit that the Brandon community shows is what makes the community great and therefore, yes.

Each year, the Community Roundtable awards the Maureen Krzanowski Scholarship to a deserving high school senior. This year’s recipient was Dahiany Zayas-Toro, a senior at Bloomingdale High School. Zayas-Toro has a weighted GPA of 5.27, is a member of the Bloomingdale High School Chamber Orchestra and an all around community oriented student.

The Non-Profit of the Year Award was given to the Greater Brandon Meals on Wheels, an all volunteer organization that provides meals to home bound individuals. In accepting the award, Jim McNeil said, “What a pleasure it is to say yes when someone calls looking for our assistance. When I finish the day, I am dead tired, but I am happy because I know someone got fed today.”

The Alice B. Tompkins Community Service Award was presented to Kavita Marballi. This is a woman who epitomizes the words volunteer and service. Marballi came to the area over 20 years ago and immediately went to work to improve the lives of her neighbors. She has volunteered at the Outreach Clinic, worked on Honorary Mayoral races and started the Silver Sneaker program at the YMCA. Marballi said, “I love to make a difference in people’s lives. Seniors are my passion. I could not be there for my parents, and whenever I see a senior, it is like I am doing something for my parents.”

Marballi thanked her husband for supporting her desire to be so involved in the community for so many years.

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