December 18, 2014

Van's the Man

Lynda Keever | 9/1/2004
It wasn't a big surprise when I heard that my longtime friend Van Poole had agreed to be the "entree" at an upcoming roast. I've known Van for 30 years, and he's the type of guy who can stand up to a good ribbing from his friends. And the beneficiary of the fund-raising roast is a proven organization that Van believes in and supports.

Phoenix House, a substance abuse treatment organization, is raising money and awareness for its new adolescent drug abuse treatment project by inviting friends throughout Florida to participate in the first annual "Phoenix House Roast" on Sept. 8 in Fort Lauderdale. I am delighted to be one of four roasters on the evening's program.

I got to know Van in the early 1970s when I was working as a legislative aide for the late Fred Tittle and Van was a new member of the Florida House of Representatives. A former insurance executive, Van spent eight years in the House and four in the Senate, holding such positions as House minority whip and Senate minority leader pro tempore. He is now chairman of Poole, McKinley & Blosser, a Tallahassee/Fort Lauderdale consulting firm that has helped Phoenix House accomplish its plans to provide drug abuse treatment programs for adolescents here in Florida.

I've recently been reminiscing with Van's friends and colleagues from those days in the legislature and have been reminded of events in Van's life that I am eager to share with a larger audience. We'll have a lot of fun at Van's expense, but the roast is designed to draw attention to the very serious problem of drug abuse among our children and teenagers. A recent Youth Substance Abuse Survey reported that 12.7% of youth surveyed in Florida had been drunk or high at school in the last 12 months.

Phoenix House was founded in 1967 and is the nation's largest non-profit organization devoted to the treatment and prevention of substance abuse. It treats nearly 5,500 adults and adolescents each day through more than 100 programs in nine states. Funds raised at the roast, in addition to the $500,000 allocated in the recent legislative session, will allow Phoenix House to expand its treatment services to adolescents and their families in Florida. The first program will be established in Tampa, where state agencies have determined a critical need exists. The project also is supported by a contribution from professional baseball player and part-time Tampa resident Derek Jeter.

Through his generous donation of time and good humor, Van is great example of how we as businesspeople and community leaders can give back to our communities.

The roast has gained notable attention thanks in large part to Van's tenure as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and his outstanding record of public service, notes Florida first lady and roast chairperson Columba Bush. Van is not only a good friend and colleague, but a leader in the community who wants to help families to reclaim their lives from the destruction caused by drug abuse.

This month's masthead includes a name that's familiar to many of you -- Lori Jacoby -- who returns to Florida Trend as South Florida Associate Publisher. Lori represented Florida Trend in south Florida from 1989 to 1997, building relationships with business leaders and opening our regional office there. She left for a top sales management position with a leading boating magazine and went on to another specialty magazine to build its U.S. East Coast business. With a degree in advertising from the University of South Florida and a total of 25 years' media experience, Lori is an expert in building business relationships, and she is the perfect person to lead our south Florida initiatives. Welcome back, Lori.

Tags: Publisher's column

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