Published On: Mon, Jan 16th, 2012

OPAL 2012 Awards

Story By: Dale M. King

Photos By: Gabriela Heizer

BOCA RATON – For a few somber minutes, Rabbi Merle Singer mesmerized a crowd at Boca Pointe Country Club Saturday night with a said story about his near-failure in school.

“My teacher told me, ‘You’ll be lucky if you graduate high school,” said the rabbi, one of five chosen to receive an OPAL (Outstanding People and Leaders) Award from the Rotary Club of Boca Raton.

At the time, no one realized the severity of dyslexia – with which he was afflicted. And Rabbi Singer said it was the advice of a junior high school guidance counselor who pushed him to continue – and to reach much success in life. He dedicated his OPAL award to that counselor.

Achievement in the face of difficulty is the mark of OPAL recipients through the years.  Proceeds raised at this year’s event, the 15th for the local Rotary, will provide scholarships to deserving local students who, as a result of difficult circumstances do not have the means to attend college.

Other OPAL winners Saturday were pilot Kenneth Davis, who has found success in the real estate market and, with his plane, has helped the Cat Island Orphanage in the Bahamas; Patricia Thomas, a longtime volunteer for many area organizations; Timothy Snow, president of the George Snow Scholarship Fund which has provided more than 1,300 students with the means to attend college and Warren Orlando, chairman of the board of 1st United Bancorp and 1st United Bank.

The OPAL Awards Gala is the Rotary’s flagship fund raising event with all monies delegated for scholarships, and celebrates the accomplishments of five remarkable individuals in our Community who exemplify the Club Mission of “Changing Lives and Building Futures.”

“Our OPAL Awards event is our most anticipated gathering of the year when we have the chance to fill a room with past OPAL honorees, community partners and leaders, business associates, friends and family who witness the energy and magic that makes Rotary such a special and important organization,” said Douglas Mummaw, event co-chair and Rotary president.

“The Rotary Club of Boca Raton identifies scholarship candidates from the Boca Raton Community and, working in conjunction with the George Snow Scholarship Foundation, has established a vetting process with our scholarship chairman and committee.  We offer our recipients a personal mentor to assist them in adjusting to college life, and beyond,” he added.

“Our scholarship program benefits needy students from Boca Raton and surrounding communities and is flexible as to the amount awarded based upon need, scholarship and citizenship.  This year scholarships were granted to both local colleges and those in other states.”

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