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FORT MYERS, FLA., January 3, 2018– PACE Center for Girls of Lee County is excited to host the Tenth Annual Grande Dames Tea honoring three more of our community’s most revered women.  For the first time, an honorary Grande Dame also will be recognized.
This year’s honorees are:

  • Dena Geraghty of Fort Myers– Dena, 79, calls herself a “born caregiver” who has been taking care of others her entire life from her own children to hundreds of children and families she has helped as the past coordinator of Lee County Juvenile and Dependency Drug Courts as well as the PACE Center girls.  Dena is a Registered Nurse who has worked in the addiction field since 1991. In addition to her professional experience, Dena was a founding member and chair of the Grande Dames Tea for four years, and continues as a member of the Lee County PACE Board of Directors as well as the PACE state Board of Trustees.  She also has been a board member of SalusCare, Inc., the Lee County Human Services Council and Florida Lawyer’s Assistance.
  • Elizabeth Gardner Sanders (Betty) of Fort Myers – Whether serving on the Community Council for Golisano Children’s Hospital or serving in leadership capacities with Epsilon Sigma Alpha (Gamma Rho chapter) on the local, state, regional and international levels, Betty, 78, has worked diligently to help Southwest Florida grow.  She is a charter member and past president of Town and Gown of Florida Gulf Coast University, past president of the Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club, past president of the Fort Myers-Lee County Garden Council, past president of Carissa Garden Club, and has been a member of the Edison Pageant of Light for decades, having once worked in the office as an administrative assistant for 10 years.
  • Barbara Jean Yeomans of Fort Myers – Barbara, 84, is a fine artist who has had several one-woman shows in Florida, England, New Jersey and New York.  Hundreds of her vibrant, colorful paintings now grace homes and businesses in Sag Harbor, Mich., Montreal, Calgary, New York, Milan and Hong Kong.  Her work is sold in New York at the Broadfoot & Broadfoot Gallery and in England at Twenty-One B Gallery.  Barbara has assisted many local charities through her donor-advised fund at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation as well as through the Women’s Legacy Fund and the scholarship she established in her late husband’s name at Florida SouthWestern State College.

For the first time, the PACE Center of Lee County also will recognize Eunice Barfield Bremner as an Honorary Grande Dame.  Eunice, 98, is a life-long resident of Fort Myers who worked on many of Fort Myers’ leading property transfers and deeds as legal secretary to Attorney Frank C. Alderman, Jr.  She continued working into her 70s for various attorneys.  Eunice and her sister, the late Berne Davis, and three other siblings lived at the Slater Mill in North Fort Myers during much of their childhood before there was electricity.  Eunice’s civic involvement includes the Edison Pageant of Light, Town & Gown of FGCU and the Fort Myers Community Concert Association.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Grande Dames Tea, which will take place Tuesday, March 13, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Broadway Palm at 1380 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers.  The Grande Dames Tea was originated by PACE Center for Girls of Lee County to honor women who have played major roles in Southwest Florida history through decades of service, philanthropy and helping others.
Chair of the Grande Dames Tea is Kathy Toll with Nancy Finch serving as co-chair.  Both women are members of the PACE Lee Board of Directors.
“Our theme of The Wisdom of Age – Honoring the Female Spirit has carried through the last 10 years and is so appropriate because each of these women has much to share from her own life’s journey with our PACE girls and guests,” Toll said. The agenda for the tea will include special performances by the PACE Girls and a question – and – answer session between the PACE girls and the three Grande Dames, that Finch said “will inspire, motivate and unite girls and women of all ages.”
Invitations to the Grande Dames Tea will be mailed in January.  Registration also will be available online starting February 1 at   Admission is $60 per person. Table sponsorships are also available. Attendees are encouraged to wear their favorite tea party hat.
Previous honorees have included the late Berne Davis, the late Eleanore Kleist and the late Barbara B. Mann in 2009; the late Jeanne Bochette, the late Helen Hendry and the late Veronica Shoemaker in 2010; Myra Daniels, Kathleen Nealon and the late Mimi Straub in 2011; Michel Doherty, the late Mavis Miller and Anna “Boots” Tolles in 2012; Thelma Hodges, the late Helen O’Rourke McClary and Ettie Francis Walsh in 2013; Barbara Norris Brown, the late Sarah Sciple and Margaret Sirianni in 2014; Sharlene Hamel Dozier, M. Jacqueline McCurdy and Melvin Morgan in 2015; Betty Anderson, Rusty Brown and Dr. Geraldine Burchard Nobles in 2016; and Pat Carroll, the late Lalai Hamric, and Beverly McNew in 2017.
PACE Center for Girls, Inc., is a non-residential delinquency prevention program targeting the unique needs of girls, ages 11 to 18 years old, facing challenges such as academic failure and truancy, physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, foster care, neglect, death of a parent, and family history of incarceration.
PACE is a Florida-based, not for profit organization, and the only statewide prevention program for adolescent at-risk girls in the nation.  In the past year, the Lee County program provided 117 girls with education, counseling, career training and advocacy programs and services resulting in 95 percent having no involvement with juvenile justice within one year of leaving PACE, 96 percent improving their academic performance and 93 percent remaining in school or obtaining employment three years after leaving PACE.  As a result, PACE reduces the significant long term costs associated with teen pregnancy, substance abuse, unemployment and long term economic dependency.
PACE accepts referrals from the juvenile justice system, the Department of Children & Families, school personnel, community services agencies, parents, family members, friends and self-referrals.
For information about the Grande Dames Tea or to become a sponsor, please contact PACE Development Manager Allyson Ross at (239) 425-2366 ext. 2315, or visit

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