Carol Morsani earns Women of Distinction award
By Kyle LoJacono
LUTZ — Those who have been to Carol Morsani Hall at the David A. Starz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, formally the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, probably don’t wonder too much about who the hall is named after.
Carol Morsani has lived in Lutz for the last 20 years and was recently named one of four winners of the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida’s 2010 Women of Distinction award.
“I was kind of surprised when I heard I won the award from the local girl scout council because I haven’t been really involved with scouts for years,” Morsani said. “I had two girls, Tulsa and Suzanne, who where in Girl Scouts, but that was in New Jersey a long time ago. I guess you could say I was shocked and honored all at once.”
The hall was renamed after Morsani in 1996 when she and her husband, Frank, donated $5 million to the center through the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. It was the largest single donation given to the center at its time. The 2,610-seat hall was previously named the Festival Hall.
The two have established the Frank and Carol Morsani Foundation Inc., which donates money to several causes in the Tampa Bay area.
“My husband and I have done very well over the years and we want to try and give back as much as possible,” Morsani said. “We just love the whole Tampa Bay area and want to make it a better place for everyone.”
Frank owned several automobile dealerships while Morsani raised their family.
There are four recipients of the award each year presented by the GSWCF, which is the governing body for all Girl Scout troops in Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Hernando, Sumter, Citrus and Marion counties.
“Nominations from the community are accepted all year, however a special call for nominations is posted on our Web site (www.gswcf.org) each fall,” said Lora Hulse, Women of Distinction Selection Committee chairwoman. “A selection committee of three volunteers reviews all nominations and ranks them.”
To be eligible, a woman must show community philanthropy, be a positive role model for girls and make the community a better place according to GSWCF. Nominees must also live within GSWCF boundaries.
Winners will attend a luncheon on March 23 at La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa, where they will receive a pin designed by Tampa Bay area artist Karen Arch.
“Since 1992, more than 230 women have been honored with the designation of a Woman of Distinction by GSWCF,” Hulse said. “Each of these honored women has contributed extensively to the communities they live in and served as outstanding role models for girls.”
Other award winners this year included Maruchi Blanco, of Tampa, Susan Churuti, of St. Petersburg, and Seretha Tinsley, of Winter Haven.
Morsani’s giving does not stop with the performing arts. She has also helped the University of South Florida.
“Carol and Frank Morsani have established a legacy of making their community a better place,” states the USF Web site. “In addition to their leadership gift, which created the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for Advanced Health Care, the Morsanis’ generosity has created the Robert L. Anderson professorship at the College of Business Administration, and a women’s softball stadium and a football practice complex.”
Frank has been quoted in past years as saying, “It doesn’t matter if you’re donating $10 or $10 million. It’s the act of supporting your community that’s meaningful and priceless.”
Morsani has also made contributions in Pasco County by giving to the Gulfside Regional Hospice in Dade City.
“Those people with the hospice are great and give needed support to families struggling with their health,” Morsani said. “They are nonprofits, so they can use all the help they can get.”
While Morsani is no longer active in Girl Scouts, she has not ruled out helping them in the future.
“I stopped being involved in Girls Scouts because my girls were all grown up and I didn’t think I could keep up with the kids anymore,” Morsani said jokingly. “But if the scouts told me they could use some help I would do what I can. Girl Scouts is great (help) for young women to become better adults.”
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