Melanie Davis (left) was honored for her work in the SouthShore area at the annual Woman’s Advancement Luncheon hosted by the Apollo Beach Woman’s Club, and Lea Manningham was awarded a Woman of Inspiration scholarship.

The Apollo Beach Woman’s Club held its annual Woman’s Advancement Luncheon on March 18 in the Del Webb Southshore Falls Ballroom in Apollo Beach. At this event, Melanie Davis, executive director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, was honored.

Claudia Gassett, chairperson of the event and a past president of the Apollo Beach Woman’s Club, said, “This year, we chose Melanie Davis to be our honoree. Our inspiration was her passion for connecting people in need to the resources and people that can help them. Starting a business in this area can be hard work, and the chamber of commerce is there to help you. She connects the businesses together and creates networking to help all of them create a sense of pride and support. In 2017, Melanie founded Helping Hands of SouthShore, which tells the stories of people in our community with a need. Melanie brings together people to help fulfill that need.”

Gassett added, “Melanie is a true leader with a very big heart. She was awarded a crystal trophy with the words engraved: ‘Melanie Davis Inspirational Woman Award. Your willingness to always go the extra mile has made a difference in our lives. Apollo Beach Woman’s Club March 18th, 2023.’”

In 2022, the club began to recognize a Woman of Inspiration. The person helps fulfil the club’s objective of advancement of womankind. That year, the club gave two scholarships to women who went back to school to further their careers and improve their lives.

This year’s scholarship winner is Lea Manningham. She was awarded $2,000 to continue her degree in ministry.

Gassett explained, “Lea has a nonprofit organization called Girls of the World here in Apollo Beach. She provides life skills and mentoring for young girls. These young girls get help with school and confidence building so that they can achieve their dreams. Lea has 29 hours left in completing her ministry degree. She encourages all her girls to attend school and go to college.”

The Apollo Beach Woman’s Club began in 1959. The club was organized exclusively for educational and charitable purposes.

It holds monthly luncheon meetings at the Moose Lodge in Ruskin on the second Wednesday of the month from 12 Noon-2 p.m. If interested in joining, please contact Liz Pedersen at or 813-777-8215. You can also visit

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