Trenton Rotary raises $30,000 with Winter Beach Blast

Photo by Evelyn Cairns

Enjoying the results of their planning for the Trenton Rotary Club’s Winter Beach Blast are Laurie Scott Dixon (left), co-chairwoman of the fundraiser; Dr. Noel Jackson and Joe Hoshaw, committee members; and Timber Baun-Crooks, chairwoman; The benefit, held Feb. 26 at Crystal Gardens, in Southgate, raised approximately $30,000 for Rotary charities.

By Evelyn Cairns
Approximately 500 supporters of Trenton Rotary Club charities traded their snow boots for sandals, and their warm coats for summer attire, to attend the organization’s annual Winter Beach Blast fundraiser Feb. 26 at Crystal Gardens in Southgate.

The event, which raised an estimated $30,000, included a bountiful dinner buffet, a lavish sweet table, live and silent auctions, which alone raised about $14,000, dancing and such fun events as hula hoop and limbo contests.

Live-auction items included a framed and autographed Tayshaun Prince Pistons jersey, a four-hour ride with the Trenton Police Department and shooting-range privileges, and accommodations at hotels and resorts in Chicago, St. Petersburg and Mexico.

Auctioneers were Mike McCullough and Larry Wright.

Timber Baun-Crooks was chair of the benefit, and Laurie Scott Dixon, co-chair.

Committee members included Mike Concessi, Carol Crumpton, Tom Dickman, Jane Dunn, Val Czagulones, Rose Angela Gronda, Jackie Hatty and Joe Hoshaw.

Others were Dr. Noel Jackson, Bill Jasman, Kathy Kane, Tim Montemayor, Wes Mator, Lynn Nolan, Brad O’Connor, Kyle Stack and McCullough.

Among the many charities the club supports are the Trenton Food Pantry, the Downriver Youth Performing Arts Center, Christnet and the Tom Shumate Endowment for the Arts.

Idol title goes to Laurie Mata
Laurie Mata of Wyandotte, who captured the Downriver Idol title in the Southern Great Lakes Symphony’s second annual contest on Feb. 27, says she is “so grateful to have won, because I have never had any formal training other than singing with my mother as a child.”

Mata, the former Laurie Gonzalez, who grew up in Westland, said her mother had studied opera and that they both sang with a choral group in Livonia.

The Downriver Idol said that she and her husband, Peter, moved to Wyandotte 26 years ago and that she performed regularly with wedding bands and as part of the duo “Sweet Release” until about two years ago.

“I had two children and wanted to make some money in the least amount of time,” she said, adding that she wants to get back into performing.

A semifinalist in last year’s Idol contest, Mata said she felt she had to enter the competition again. Singing “The Nearness of You,” by Hoagy Carmichael, she out-performed finalists Jill Ryan and Lara Semetko, both of Grosse Ile, in the final round.

A fourth finalist, Ramsey Katynski of Clawson, did not attend the Feb. 27 competition.

The Matas’ children are Damien, 29, of Oregon, and Chelsea Lobato. 26, of Carleton. She and her husband, Bryan, are expecting their first child in May.

The new Downriver Idol said that Feb. 27 was a very busy and exciting day, explaining that she went directly from a baby shower for her daughter to the Flat Rock Community Auditorium with just enough time to change her clothes and go on stage.

The winner said she has been invited to appear as guest soloist next season with the SGLS.

Gina Barreca is last speaker
The final lecture in the current Downriver Town Hall series Thursday will feature Gina Barreca, a humorist, columnist, author and professor of English and feminist the-ory at the University of Connecticut.

The program is slated for 11 a.m. at Crystal Gardens, 16703 Fort St., Southgate.

Barreca, a columnist for the Hartford Courant, has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including “48 Hours,” “Joy Behar,” “Dr. Phil, “The Today Show” “20/20” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

In addition, she is the author of eight books, among them her latest, “It’s Not That I’m Bitter, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Con-quered the World.” Her books have been translated into Chinese, German, Spanish and Japanese.

For additional information about the lecture, call (734) 783-9224.

Coming up . . .
March 12— Irish Fest, a celebration of Irish culture with Irish food, music, beer and a raffle; 7 to 11 p.m. at the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, 111 E. Kirby; 7 to 11 p.m.; $30 in advance or $35 at the door; for more information, call (313) 871-8600 or go to