By Kathy L. Collins

Each year, the Community Roundtable, an all-volunteer organization that has been serving the greater Brandon community for over five decades, holds its Annual Community Affairs Dinner. This dinner is widely anticipated each year. It is an opportunity for the community to come 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 on Wednesday, February 22 at Center Place in Brandon.

Jeff Eakins, Superintendent for Hillsborough County Schools, served as the keynote speaker. Eakins thanked the Community Roundtable for providing students in Hillsborough County with access to community service projects. Eakins said, “Thank you for all you do to change the lives and hearts of students.”

Each year, the Community Roundtable awards the Maureen Krzanowski Scholarship to a deserving high school senior. This year’s recipient is Melissa Chin, a senior at Riverview High School. Chin has a weighted GPA of 6.7. Chin is an active volunteer and established the Best Buddies Chapter at Riverview High School.

The Non-Profit of the Year Award was presented Portamento of Hope, a local soup kitchen founded by Lela Lilyquist. In accepting the award, Lilyquist said, “When I started this organization, I did not know much about feeding the homeless. I have since learned that we throw away 40 percent of the food supply each year.”

Portamento of Hope accepts 75,000 pounds of food each year and uses it to feed 1,100 homeless each week. Lilyquist added, “I appreciate this award. I am delighted and humbled.”

The Alice B. Tompkins Community Service Award was presented to Walt Raysick, retired USN. In presenting the award, last year’s recipient, Kavita Marballi said, “This individual has a passion for all he does including Crime Stoppers, Toys for Tots, Eagle Scouts, the Brandon Chamber Military Affairs Committee and more. He was a key member in establishing the Veterans Memorial Park. For more information on The Community Roundtable, please visit or call 661-4350 or email

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