MANATEE -- The word "dynamo" seems to come up whenever people talk about Bradenton's Elizabeth Moore who is involved in a staggering amount of philanthropic work in Manatee County and communities beyond.
Moore was one of seven individuals and organizations honored Wednesday by the Manatee Community Foundation for their personal and philanthropic investments in Manatee County during its 2016 Spirit of Manatee Awards attended by 400 at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
"That is why the foundation chose to recognize her," Manatee Community Foundation interim Executive Director James T. Bruen said, reflecting on her dynamic personality. "She bridges not only an incredible philanthropic track record in this community, but also in Boston and beyond. She arrived here intending just to stay a short time and she has made it her home."
Moore, who was given the Special Recognition Award, contributed to such projects as the Moore Athletic
Complex in 2013 and the Marine Science Center, which opened this year, both at Bradenton's Saint Stephen's Episcopal School.
Moore's financial gifts to the Saint Stephen's projects exceed $3.5 million, according to Saint Stephen's records.
Moore is also working with Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in coral reef protection and restoration and dolphin wellness and tracking.
"I actually never imagined I would be up here receiving a Spirit Award," Moore told the crowd. "The Moore family is from the Boston area where the spirit of philanthropy runs deep. When we moved down to Bradenton eight years ago we brought that same spirit of philanthropy and the desire to get more involved in making our community a better one."
Other award winners:
Samantha Hyatt, a freshman in the honors program at the University of Florida and a Girl Scout for 13 years, was presented the Young Spirit Award. Sue Stewart, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, lauded Hyatt in a video shown to the crowd.
"Samantha embodies the ideals of the Girl Scout movement," Stewart said. "A member since kindergarten and now an alumna, she has been inspired to take action, to make the world a better place."
Hyatt helped create an evening gown lending closet at Lakewood Ranch High School so girls who can not afford a prom or pageant dress could borrow one.
Residents of Bradenton's Freedom Village, who comprise the Memorial Scholarship Program led by Chairman Glenn A. Vergason, won the Community Spirit Award. The residents, whose average age is in the 80s, raised about $100,000 annually for scholarships by selling donated items.
Vergason drew laughs from the crowd when he told the story about how Freedom Village residents live in a "wow" world.
"When we found out we were nominated by the State College of Florida to receive this spirit award you can imagine what we said: 'Wow,' " Vergason said. "We seem to accomplish stuff that we have no idea how. A month ago I could have shown you residents out washing a Cadillac that had been donated to us. When someone gives us a Cadillac, we say: 'Wow!'"
When the crowd roared, Vergason added, "You're getting it."
The Mosaic Co. was presented the Community Spirit Corporate Award. The company has given $10,000 annually to the South Florida Museum and gave $1.3 million in 2012 to create the Mosaic Backyard Universe, which focuses on early learning. Mosaic also has picked up the tab for Snooty's Birthday Bash since 2013.
Nathan and Cynthia Hoeksema won the Volunteer Spirit Award. Nathan Hoeksema and his Chick-Fil-A at Cortez Plaza helped Bradenton Christian School raise more than $93,000. The couple also support SOLVE House and Marriage Works.
Dr. Steven Tinsworth won the Leadership Spirit Award for his more than 30 years in the community working to improve public dental health. Tinsworth shed tears during his acceptance speech.
"Just going back, family memories, grandparents and parents and their guidance," Tinsworth said.
Dr. Harris and Micheline Silverman took home the Lifetime Spirit Award. The Silvermans have been instrumental in the evolution of Southeastern Guide Dogs from its beginnings in Palmetto in the 1980s to its current internationally known status.
Harris Silverman's speech also was memorable. He told the crowd to pick a charity in Manatee County and dedicate time to see it grow from an acorn to an oak, which is how he described how he and his wife nurtured Southeastern Guide Dogs.
"Harris and Micheline told an incredible story about the oak tree," Bruen said. "That was what they were able to start with -- passions and the right people in this community who could help him pull it off. He couldn't have done it alone but there were people who believed in him and he and Micheline believed in themselves."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.