On Thursday, March 22, several community members were honored at Samuel’s House’s 2018 Women of Integrity/Men of Valor ceremony at Beachside Marriott in Key West. This year’s honorees not only step up in the community, but also are recognized for their post-Irma recovery efforts. The event is an annual fundraiser for Samuel’s House, the nonprofit which provides housing and supportive services to homeless women and intact families to aid them in becoming self-sufficient.

The honorees:


Bill Becker, news director at US1 Radio, is being honored for his role in providing local news updates with his fellow staffers after Hurricane Irma. Becker credits the station’s incredible team commitment, stellar facilities and sturdy generator (nicknamed Zippy) for making it possible to stay on the air. In addition, he’s co-founder of one of the Lower Keys’ signature events: the annual Underwater Music Festival that spotlights coral reef preservation.


Key West Police Captain Sean Brandenburg has been an officer since 1990, joining the Key West Police Department in 2002. He received the Life Saving Medal on two separate occasions in his time with the Key West Police Department.


Cheryl Cates, a real estate agent, is service driven and has given her time to countless boards and committees, too many to list. As Mayor Craig Cates’ “first lady,” she has been dedicated to helping Key West thrive.



Julie Ann Floyd, M.D., has been in practice in Key West since 2005 and owns Tropical Wellness. As a rehabilitation specialist, her niche is the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal problems, spine disorders, sports injuries, work and auto injuries. Her unique abilities to blend standard Western medicine training with Eastern medicine training and acupuncture offer many patients an integrative and functional medical approach.


“I was born into a very ordinary life and am no one extraordinary,” said Thomas Gray, who is being honored for his work at for 14 years at Florida Keys Outreach Coalition. After Hurricane Irma, he coordinated recovery efforts for the outreach’s facilities from massive tree damage that had much of the facility blocked.


Dr. John Norris III, MD, is an internal medicine specialist and has been practicing for 28 years. He has also been highly involved with research of genetically modified mosquitoes and their effects on antibiotics in humans.


Maura and Danny moved to Key West in 2013 and bought Two Friends Patio Restaurant. Neither had any restaurant experience, but have turned it into a bustling hangout allowing them to employ 63 people. The two are community-minded and involved with Samuel’s House, KeysStrong, the Star of the Sea Mission, Kids Come First, and The Luci Fund.


John Trovato was appointed in April 2017 as the new managing director of the two Waldorf Astoria Resorts in Key West, the historic Casa Marina Resort and The Reach Resort. In the days following the hurricane, Casa Marina provided more than 6,000 meals to its team members, police and first responders. Trovato and the Waldorf team organized several hurricane recovery clean-up events, including helping All Hands Volunteers in the recovery efforts on Big Pine Key.

“It was great being able to serve people in time of need. My team and I were only a small part of an enormous recovery but we were proud to be part of the team. That is what Key West is all about.” —John Trovato, Casa Marina


Helen M. Garcia, a Conch, has always been very active in the community and pretty much keeps her plate full, volunteering her time and serving on many boards. She is not afraid to take on a challenge and has learned many valuable insights from her involvement in the community and believes “even just one act of kindness, no matter how small, is never wasted.”


Phyllis Michaelis started volunteering at KAIR in 2009. What began as a one day a week occurrence turned into an everyday happening, sometimes volunteering as many as 80 hours a week. She says volunteering with KAIR brought great joy to her life and has allowed her to be blessed by working with KAIR’s clients.


Reflecting on many, many decades of spearheading and participating in charitable events, his musical involvement in the community is immeasurable. He has been involved with hundreds of fundraisers and charity events in the Keys.


Rev. Terri Hill, the pastor at Key West United Methodist Church, opened the church as a distribution center serving more than 3,000 people with food, water, cleaning supplies, building supplies, diapers, batteries and more after Hurricane Irma. The church continues to host volunteer groups in its bunkroom.


Clif Taylor’s hospitality career began as a front desk agent in 1983 and he progressed through several positions, including hotel controller and property general manager before moving to Key West in 2005. In 2009, he was named Key West General Manager of the Year by the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West for his work at Spottswood Companies.


Robert A. Spottswood’s companies include Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel, Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Marathon, and asset management for the LaConcha Hotel. The hotels were hubs before, during and after the hurricane. Spottswood is also very involved with the community, as a part of too many organizations to list.


Brothers Brad and Seth Cohen called Elmira Leto of Samuel’s House and asked how they could help with serving the residents of Monroe County after the hurricane and ended up serving the community 28,800 meals. They will be cooking for residents of Big Pine Key on May 11 and will be bringing 350 volunteers in partnership with keysstrong.org.

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