Friends and Neighbors

Palmetto High brothers spearheading book donations for migrant families


Special to the Miami Herald

Beloved children’s books long sitting on shelves can be appreciated by a new generation of readers through a community service project started by Miami Palmetto Senior High student Jake McMaster to honor the memory of his grandfather.

Jake, 17 and a rising senior, is now getting help from younger brother Reed, 15 and a rising sophomore. The two are collecting the gently used books for libraries at the South Dade Migrant Farm Labor Camps that serve more than 300 children of agricultural workers.

The teens recently added a permanent donation box located inside the Village of Pinecrest Community Center. They named it “Mac’s Library” after their late grandfather, David McMaster, a schoolteacher and lifelong reading enthusiast.

The project got going last fall with book drive collections at Palmetto, Pinecrest and Howard Drive elementary schools. Almost 3,000 books were distributed to deserving migrant family students at a preholiday book fair.

“We gave these books to the kids to take home,” Jake said. “Most of them probably own few if any books. But now the program itself needs books.”

Friends Michael Elmaleh and Aaron Maxwell joined the effort and spearheaded a collection of over 2,000 pounds of clothing for the children. They also collected school supplies through the drive held at Palmetto High.

“It’s been a real eye-opener for me,” Jake said. “The staff there explained that these kids literally have nothing.”

The brothers said the Migrant Education Program needs everything from infant board books to high school level for its after-school and summer programs.  

Books can be dropped off at the “Mac’s Library” box at the Community Center, 5855 SW 111th St. in Pinecrest. Hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday; 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays; and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays.


Congratulations to the members of the Women’s Cancer Association of the University of Miami, Bush Chapter, for successfully rejuvenating the popular Kentucky Derby Party to aid in fundraising for cancer research.

Community Leader Dottie Corbett coordinated the event for 38 years at the Coral Gables Country Club. A group of her friends led by Host and Coordinator Judi Ashworth, and Chapter President Ruth Jacobs held the recent exciting race party at the South Miami Elks Lodge. 

More than 80 guests attended Derby Day 2014, which made nearly $5,000 on ticket sales, raffles, a silent auction, and drink sales. All profits will go to the cancer association.

Dressed elegantly in the chic tradition of horse racing derbies — including the crazy large hats — group members, spouses, and friends enjoyed an elegant buffet and bid on elaborate baskets and other prizes. They watched the race live and cheered on their favorites and then continued the fundraising celebration. 

“It was a grand Derby Day Party. It would have done Dottie proud,” Ashworth said. She said Corbett has been unable to coordinate the event in recent years.

Other officers of the organization are Charlene Wilson, first vice president, who managed the raffle and auction for the event; Pat Saunders, second vice president and recording secretary; Bridgett Sparks, corresponding secretary; and Mary Nolan, treasurer. 

Ashworth said the group plans to continue the tradition in 2015 and beyond to honor Corbett and her dedicated work.


Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep held its 11th Hall of Fame Gala to reunite high school friends and celebrate the achievements of seven distinguished individuals. The alums were inducted into ACND Prep’s 2014 Hall of Fame.

The gala was part of the school’s 60th anniversary year of special events. Honorary Chairwoman Swanee DiMare, a graduate of Notre Dame Academy, welcomed the honorees and about 200 guests. Masters of Ceremony were  Helen Aguirre-Ferre (NDA) and  Spero Canton. Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski was the guest speaker.

The 2014 honorees are: Larry Wilson ’58;  James Kushlan ’65;  Camille Martone Geraldi ’66;  Tom Laubenthal ’68;  Mark Hurd ’75;  David Gerrits ’78; and Merrill Romanik ’83.

Proceeds from the gala support the school’s development projects and sponsor a Knight Scholarship fund. To attend, contribute, or sponsor any of ACND Prep’s upcoming events, visit


In recognition of Memorial Day, members of the Rotary Club of Miami Dadeland-Pinecrest are collecting items and purchasing Publix gift cards for our homeless veterans. Donations may be dropped off at the Pinecrest Community Center, 5855 111th St., until June 10.

Items needed include: shampoo, conditioner, soap, hand sanitizer, tooth paste, tooth brushes, mouthwash, floss, foot powder, deodorant, razors, shaving gel/cream, feminine products, nail clippers, lotion, combs, backpacks, fanny packs, sleeping bags, pop top canned goods, snack type food, reading glasses, umbrellas, waterproof bags, ponchos, flashlights, individual load size laundry detergent, new underwear, wallets, sunscreen, small can openers, whistles and chap stick.

Tax-deductible donation checks may be written to the Miami Dadeland-Pinecrest Foundation and mailed to Treasurer Nancy Brown, CPA, 7700 N. Kendall Dr., Suite 200, Miami, FL 33156. The Rotarians will purchase Publix gift cards for the homeless veterans with the donation funds.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at

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