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2013 Treasures of the Harbor Winners Announced

2013 Treasures of the Harbor winners (l-r) Pam Corbino, Virginia Papadolopils and Laura Kepner pose with Nadine Nickeson.
2013 Treasures of the Harbor winners (l-r) Pam Corbino, Virginia Papadopoulos and Laura Kepner pose with Nadine Nickeson. Credit: SHPLF

The Safety Harbor Public Library Foundation named its 2013’s Treasures of the Harbor at their Gatsby Jazz Affair at the library on January 30, 2014

The 2013 winners, by category, are:

  • Ruby Award (31-60 yrs) Laura Kepner
  • Ruby Award (31-60 yrs) Virginia Papadopoulos
  • Diamond Award (61+ yrs) Pam Corbino

According to officials, Treasures are chosen for devoting service above and beyond their employment positions to keep our community special.

Longtime SHPLF member and event organizer Nadine Nickeson explained why the foundation chose these women.

“The winners this year have spent over 50 years in the city and countless hours volunteering for the Chamber, Museum, Family Center, Library, Museum and local schools,” she said. “Special Olympics, American Cancer Society, Boley Center and hundreds of students have benefited from their works”

“Truly these women exemplify the moral of this quote from The Great Gatsby, ‘Let us learn to show our friendship for a man while he is alive and not after he is dead.'”

Safety Harbor Connect reached out to each of the 2013 Treasures of the Harbor recipients, and asked them how they felt about being selected for the honor; here are their replies:

Pam Corbino –
“I was totally surprised when I was named the Diamond winner,” the longtime city official said. “It is such a great honor to get that recognition.”

“I have lived her for 27 years and I have always loved the library,” she added. “I was an elected official when the new library was built, and they just do so many terrific things for the community there. To me the library is the true treasure of the Harbor.”

Laura Kepner –
“Saying I’m honored isn’t enough,” the co-author of A Brief History of Safety Harbor, Florida said. “This award feels like a huge hug from every Harborite I’ve ever met and ever will meet.”

“Safety Harbor folks are strong, active, and appreciate people,” she added. “And for them to recognize me for what I love doing, it just makes me want to give more to my community.

Virginia Papadopoulos –
“As a resident of Safety Harbor for 22 years I’ve been able to watch our city grow,” the president of the GFWC North Pinellas Women’s Club said. “Volunteering within our community is a joy and an honor. Watching our children grow each year while volunteering in the school system is a treasured memory.”

“I was humbled to get the Treasures of Safety Harbor Ruby award,” she added. “I was shaking when I went up to receive it, for the first time in my life I was speechless. My gratitude is immeasurable. I still can’t believe the Library Foundation picked me … incredible, just incredible. Thank you so much to all for your support.”

Nickeson also provided these summaries detailing the winners’ many accomplishments:

  • Ms Corbino, a resident and teacher for over 30 years recently retired from SH Middle School. Her mark on young lives is well remembered by students and their parents including Ms Papadopoulos who stated her son loved the class. A Kiwanian for 20 years, Ms. Corbino has served as club President and current board member. She is past board member for Community Pride, a member of Leadership Pinellas and a tireless worker in improving and beautifying our city. She founded Florida Women, a long running Teacher Breakfast and Harbor Fest for the City’s 80th Anniversary. As Mayor and Commissioner for the city, her legacy includes the waterfront park and marina, the library and recreation center, brick street restoration and much more.
  • Ms Kepner is that rare individual who makes her mark in a community in a short time. To paraphrase from her nomination form, a treasure recently acquired is no less valuable than one long owned. In only six years, she founded the SH Writers and Poets Group and facilitates their performance group. She is currently blogging for Creative Pinellas, the SH Art and Music center and teaches creative writing through the city. She can be found around town teaching writing at the library or volunteering for O’GOSH. In 2013 she accepted the challenge to write a history of our city. Along with a co-writer, she logged hundreds of hours in research and interviews and was signing book copies before year’s end.
  • Ms Papadopoulos is the current President of the GFWC North Pinellas Women’s Club and received their coveted Tomorrow Begins Today award.  Also for her many club and individual efforts she was named a finalist in WEDU’s Be More Involved service recognition.  A 20 year city resident she worked at Tech Data for many years before devoting herself to family and volunteerism. She volunteers at Countryside High each week and has organized projects for Kimberly Home, Relay for Life, RCS Haven and many others while chairing club committees. Her knitting group took 300 caps for newborns to Mease-Countryside Hospital.  In addition she works with a canine rescue group.

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