Staff Report

GRAN PARADISO — About 180 Gran Paradiso residents celebrated the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 at the monthly Happy Hour for Charity gathering Jan. 3 — with a special presentation to Children First.

A festive New Year’s theme with catered food was provided by hosts and Gran Paradiso residents Dick and Deborah Miller.

Residents brought side dishes and desserts while the Millers provided shrimp, chicken wings and baked pasta.

“This is a very special night,” Dick Miller said.

Deborah Miller explained Children First and what the Gran Paradiso donations do for children in need who live in Sarasota County.

“The children and local families we are helping with our 50/50 proceeds are living in poverty and may not have access to healthy food or good medical care,” she said. “These are the low-income children and families we in Gran Paradiso are helping.”

Rogers said she appreciates the Gran Paradiso donations.

“Dick and Deborah have worked tirelessly to host the monthly Happy Hours so that our low-income families could benefit by the funds raised and matched by the Millers,” she said. “This generous donation expresses your community support of others who are less fortunate.”

Rogers said “2019 was a year of many accolades for Children First, including being named a four-time designated Head Start Program of Excellence. Children First is one of only two Head Start providers in the country with this four-year consecutive designation. Children First ranks in the top 1 percent of more than 1,800 Head Starts across the nation and is located right here in Sarasota County.

“We support children from birth to age 5 with full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance. The children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track. We prepare them to live in our society to meet the challenges they will face. Your donations will add to our children’s future and success.”

The Happy Hour attendees who have donated toward the 50/50 over the past year watched as their $1,774 proceeds were presented to Rogers. A second check of $1,774, representing a match of the proceeds, was also presented by the Millers, making the total amount donated to Children First $3,548.

The Millers began hosting of the monthly Happy Hour in February 2019. After the February Happy Hour, Dick Miller agreed if he and Deborah were going to “host” Happy Hour that the event needed to be more than just a gathering of residents having a social evening. It needed to be an evening with a purpose.

Dick Miller has been raising money for children’s charities since he was a teenager in New York City. Early on he drafted major celebrities who he asked to support his charitable efforts. Children First became the Gran Paradiso Happy Hour charity in March 2019.

The fundraising and social event is held on the first Friday of each month in the activities center.

Dick and Deborah Miller are Realtors with RE/MAX Platinum Realty with five offices; the West Villages, Venice island, Osprey, Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch.

For more information, call Dick Miller at 941-662-5000.

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