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Far exceeding the attendance guesstimates of the Kesk Florida Eesti Seltsi (KFES) juhatus/Estonian Society of Central Florida Board, 71 guests attended the association’s celebration of the 101st anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. The weather and the setting couldn’t have been more perfect: It was another grand blue sky hot sunny day as we gathered in the lovely ballroom in the beautifully situated Feather Sound Country Club in Clearwater, Florida. Starting with cocktails at 11:00 am, the event was well paced to its 3:00 pm conclusion giving guests plenty of time to enjoy our engaging program, delicious lunch, and spirited conversations.

Lisa A. Mets, KFES asepresident/Estonian Society of Central Florida vice president (we decided not to elect a president this year), served as emcee for the formal program. She welcomed four distinguished guests who joined us in our celebration: Hr. Jaak Treiman, Eesti Vabariigi Aukonsul/Estonian Honorary Consul in Los Angeles; pr. Kaie Põhi Latterner, Eesti Vabariigi Aukonsul/Estonian Honorary Consul in St. Petersburg (FL) for the northern counties of Florida; The Honorable Mrs. Kairi Künka, Eesti Vabariigi Peakonsul/Estonian Consul General in New York; and Ms. Kersti Eesmaa, Konsulaarosakonna peadirektor/the Director General of the Consular Department, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who brought greetings to our assembly. KFES was especially honored and privileged to introduce our beloved member, Kaie, as the Estonian Honorary Consul, St. Petersburg (northern counties of Florida); the Honorary Consulate was officially re-opened when Kaie took her oath of office on Friday evening, February 22, 2019, in her home. You may read the Foreign Ministry’s press release about the event here. KFES was especially delighted too to welcome back Lgp. pr. Künka, who had participated in the KFES celebration of EV100 last year.

In response to Ms. Eesmaa’s greetings, Lisa asked Ms. Eesmaa to convey the gratitude of Kesk Florida Eesti Selts for the recognition conveyed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Citizen’s Day, November 26, 2018, on the organization we know and love as KLENK: Kesk Lääne Eesti Noorte Koondis, affectionately called Kesk Lääne Endise Noorte Koondis, now 60 years old. Many KFES members lived in the Midwest and were active participants and organizers of KLENK gatherings. In 2011, to keep KLENK alive, Kesk Florida Eesti Selts hosted KLENK in St. Petersburg and transformed KLENK for snowbirds. Out of that the KLENK-IEP Caribbean cruise was born under the amazing leadership of Anne and Rein Luning. Many of us will be on the ship when the KLENK cruise sets sail for its third voyage on March 2, 2019. We thank and applaud the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for choosing KLENK as a recipient of this distinguished award.

Lisa designed her remarks around this theme: Why do we do what we do when we celebrate Estonian Independence Day? After all, the format of our program likely matches the programs hosted by numerous other Estonian associations taking place across America this month. Do we do what we do because it has always been done this way? What is the thought behind each element in our program? Lisa guided the guests through each step in the program with introductory remarks primarily focusing on Estonia’s history and culture. Kaie Põhi Latterner accompanied all of the musical elements of our program.

The first element in our program was the singing of the national anthem of the United States, not only because we live here but to pay tribute to a country whose ideals we share. Honoring Estonia’s spiritual and faith-based traditions, Monika Orumaa Craig led us in prayer, the second element in our program. The third element was a keynote address by Eesti Vabariigi Peakonsul/Estonian Consul General Künka. Pr. Künka delivered her address in Estonian; a printed English translation was available so all the guests could follow along. It was significant that pr. Künka made her remarks in Estonian: 2019 is the year of the Estonian language, kicked off on January 24, 2019, at a conference in Tallinn titled, “The Century of Estonian as the state language.”

In her remarks, pr. Künka noted that Mart Meri, a member of the board of the Estonian Institute, expressed a dream of “increasing the number of Estonian language speakers in the world to at least 1.5 million.” [Kesk Florida Eesti Selts is doing its part! Our musical program featured songs sung in Estonian by Rein Männik and our usual energetic Estonian Ühislaul/sing-a-along. Three of our favorite songs were enjoyed: Viljandi Paadimees, Ma Tahaksin Kodus Olla and Kungla Rahvas.] Pr. Künka concluded her remarks saying, “We have to continue working for the security and prosperity of our country, preserving its rich cultural heritage and keeping our language, all together, Estonians at home and abroad.” In today’s program, Kesk Florida Eesti Selts, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, recommitted itself to doing just that.

“In Memoriam” is the fourth element in our program. In her introductory remarks, Lisa reviewed the history of the Estonian war of independence fought from November 2018 to December 2019; the tragedy of World War II on the Estonian population; and the ultimate sacrifice made by Estonian soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. All of our guests stood to honor our fallen heroes by singing together “Puhake Paremad Pojad.” The closing element in our formal program was, as always, the singing of the Estonian National Anthem. We stood and heartily sang with joy in our hearts and tears in our eyes “Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm.” Elagu Eesti!

A delicious lunch followed with fabulous service by the Feather Sound Country Club staff. Kaie Põhi Latterner then took over the remainder of the program. She noted that, as the custodian of the book, she brought the lovely History of the Eesti Kroon and placed it on display for all to enjoy. This was a gift to KFES by the author for EV100.

The precious book, The History of the Eesti Kroon, on display. Kesk Florida Eesti Selts. EV101. 23. veeb. 2019.a. Clearwater, FL. Foto: Erkki Taada

We offered a champagne toast to Estonia: Elagu Eesti! Thank you, Robin and Tõnu Toomepuu, for the champagne.

Then we had fun with the loterii: Triin Karr and her daughter Annika and son Logan drew the winning tickets. Thank you to all our KFES members for bringing contributions to our loterii table!

We engaged in our musical program. Rein Männik, our featured musician this year, serenaded us with several lovely songs, each with a story of significance to Rein.

Ühislaul, as always, was enjoyed by all who end up rocking, rolling and clapping along.

Though we didn’t offer a rahvatants/folk dance program this year, we concluded our musical activity with a huge circle of guests dancing the Perekonna Valss.

Closing remarks were offered by Aukonsul/Honorary Consul Kaie Põhi Latterner. As is customary in Kaie’s remarks, she had all of us standing at the end because we were born in Estonia, we were born to Estonian parents, we married an Estonian, and/or we love an Estonian. That covered 100% of our guests.

Bringing our celebration to an end, we adjourned outside for a group photo on the balcony and conversation that didn’t want to end.

We hope you enjoy our photos. Please plan to join us next year!

By Florida standards, it was a cold, rainy and windy day–just the perfect setting for our annual supp ja võileiv lõunasöök (soup and sandwich luncheon). Just about 50 members gathered together, and we were delighted to see old friends and welcome some new ones too! Everything everyone contributed to the luncheon was simply Esto-so-delicious! A highlight of the afternoon in what has become a favorite and customary activity for us was our ühislaulmine (group singing) energetically led by Kaie Põhi Latterner on the accordion. Though we have lots of great activities ahead of us, we’re already looking forward to this annual event next year. Enjoy the photos!

Dear Members and Friends of Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES)/Estonian Society of Central Florida,

This year, the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts will be celebrating the 101st Anniversary of Estonian Independence. The year 1919–100 years ago–was a year of battles on our beloved Estonian soil that adds great significance to this year’s commemoration of our independence and our valiant fighters.

Eesti Vabariigi Aastapäeva Tähistamine
Celebration of Estonian Independence Day
We will be joined by special guests:
Eesti Vabariigi Peakonsul lgp. pr. Kairi Künka (Estonian Consul General in New York City)
Konsulaarosakonna Peadirektor pr. Kersti Eesmaa (Director General, Consular Department)
Eesti Vabariigi Aukonsul (Los Angeles) hr. Jaak Treiman (Estonian Honorary Consul in Los Angeles)
Saturday, February 23, 2019
11:00 am – 3:00 pm (for the 101st Anniversary of Estonian Independence)
$40/adult; $23/child under 16
ADVANCE PRE-PAID RESERVATIONS TO ANNELIIS KUUSIK BY FEBRUARY 2 ARE A MUST
Feather Sound Country Club
2201 Feather Sound Dr
Clearwater, FL 33762
http://www.fscc.club/

WHEN YOU RESPOND TO ANNELIIS KUUSIK WITH YOUR RESERVATION, PLEASE LET HER KNOW YOUR MEAL SELECTIONS: Teriyaki Fish (Mahi Mahi) or Chicken Piccata. Children will be served chicken fingers.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

KFES Juhatus

Dear Members and Friends of Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES)/Estonian Society of Central Florida,

Here is information about our next two events, which we hope you will plan to attend. Both events request that you make reservations in advance.

Eesti suppi ja võileiva lõunasöök
Estonian soup and sandwich lunch
This is a potluck, and members make Estonian-style soup, sandwiches, salads and desserts; please bring your soup bowls and spoons too!
Sunday, January 27, 2019
2:00 pm; $10/person, children are free
Community Center in the Seminole Isles Condominium Complex
(this is where Anneliis Kuusik lives)
7069 Key Haven Rd.
Seminole, FL 33777

THE GATE CODE TO GAIN ACCESS IS PROVIDED IN EMAIL. Call Anneliis’s cell phone number (860) 810-3469 if you have trouble getting in.

ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE A MUST BY MONDAY, JANUARY 21; WHEN RESPONDING, PLEASE LET US KNOW WHAT YOU PLAN TO BRING. KFES will provide soup, iced tea and coffee. Please bring your own adult beverages, if you like.

************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Eesti Vabariigi Aastapäeva Tähistamine
Celebration of Estonian Independence Day
We will be joined by special guests:
Eesti Vabariigi Peakonsul lgp. pr. Kairi Künka (Estonian Consul General in New York City)
Konsulaarosakonna Peadirektor pr. Kersti Eesmaa (Director General, Consular Department)
Eesti Vabariigi Aukonsul (Los Angeles) hr. Jaak Treiman (Estonian Honorary Consul in Los Angeles)
Saturday, February 23, 2019
11:00 am – 3:00 pm (for the 101st Anniversary of Estonian Independence)
$40/adult; $23/child under 16
ADVANCE PRE-PAID RESERVATIONS TO ANNELIIS KUUSIK BY FEBRUARY 2 ARE A MUST
Feather Sound Country Club
2201 Feather Sound Dr
Clearwater, FL 33762
http://www.fscc.club/

Please remember: Our KFES membership dues are $20 per adult. We are happy to collect your dues at our next two events.

If you would like to volunteer to help us with our events, please let us know. We especially welcome “clean-up” crews after our events.The more the merrier!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

KFES Juhatus

On Saturday afternoon, December 8, 2018, about 55 members of the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts (KFES)) gathered at the beautiful home of Kaie Põhi Latterner in North Redington Beach (FL) to celebrate a traditional Estonian Christmas. Well almost. A white ibis, Santa’s Florida navigator, guided Jõuluvana to Kaie’s home (can you spot him on the roof?), which is located about a block away from a white sandy beach. The weather was spectacular with 80 degrees and a clear blue sky. We filled Kaie’s home to the brim and, thankfully, we were able to spread outside to the beautiful poolside and waterside setting. Once the sun set, hardy members gathered fireside. Palm trees instead of pine trees swayed in the background.

Jõuluvana visits Kesk Florida Eesti Selts. 8. dets. 2018. N Redington Beach, FL. Foto: Erkki Taada

We welcomed Jõuluvana with song. Children delighted in his arrival. At first, Santa needed to wait patiently for the first daring child to come forward. And things rolled easily from there. Our hostesses serenaded Jõuluvana with their own special song, Living in a Florida Wonderland, sung of course to the tune of Walking in a Winter Wonderland. We’ll be adding that special song to our song sheet next year. What fun that was! At the end, Jõuluvana was quite moved when Chloe Cabrera presented him with special thank-you gifts.

We had a fabulous turnout for this favorite KFES event. In fact, our luncheon was sold out. We were especially delighted to be joined again by our I-4 warriors, our two Orlando members–Moonika Mägi and Helen Tammela–who are undeterred by the drive. Aino and Ants Tompson once again made the drive from Naples; thank you! Paavo Känd joined us from Gulfport. Our newer members Ludmila Stelmokene and Hannes Jakobson joined us once again too and jumped into our festivities. Astrid Normet, who joined KFES in November with her husband Heinar, brought new energy into our sing alongs. In fact, Hannes Jakobson was quite taken by all the extra verses sung by the ladies to “Ma vaatsin paadist kiikriga, kui kaugel on see Saaremaa.” Everyone added fabulous voices to our group songs. And we were pleased to welcome first-timer Sindi Haller.

And these very special guests were introduced to our group by Sunne Säre and Märten Vaikmaa: Sunne’s sister Betti Säre and Külliki and Jaan Piliste. Another friend of our group, Sigrid Bratic, busy with her children accomplished in dance and spearfishing, joined us about dessert time. As we know, Sigrid is the founder of the fabulously successful Little Greek Restaurant franchise, and Külliki and Jaan are new owners in Spring Hill (FL). When in the area there, please stop in!

KFES extends a HUGE thank-you to three extraordinary women who made this event so special. Kaie Põhi Latterner once again generously opened her home to our group. Anneliis Kuusik and Virve Kai Bulla were tireless in executing all the complicated logistics. Eric Cabrera figured out how to fit 20 cars into no more than 4 neighboring driveways; what a feat that was! We also thank our members for all their special contributions. Verivorst was contributed from those making our traditional Christmas sausage in the kitchens of Maare Kuuskvere and Kaie Põhi Latterner. Homemade kapsapirukas was made according to Urve Põhi’s secret recipe. Homemade piparkoogid came from Anneliis, Maare and Virve Kai; and Anneliis once again made her delicious cranberry sauce and sauerkraut (two separate dishes, of course!). A fabulous baker, Virve Kai made our traditional kringle-kolane sai and chocolate fudge. Special treats came from the Vaikmaa kitchen: traditional Estonian sauerkraut and a non-traditional chocolate cake with sauerkraut as its special ingredient. While our roast pork main course came from our favorite German deli, these homemade touches mentioned and additional delicious contributions made this a special traditional eesti jõululõunasöök. All of this was graced by the blessing offered by our own Pastor Priit Rebane.

We started at 2:00 pm. What time did this revelry all end? Well, after some more singing accompanied by Kaie on the accordion and quiet time over drinks seated around the outdoor fire pit, the word is our last guest went home about 10:00 pm. That broke last year’s record. Take a look at our gallery of photos. We hope this will encourage you to join us next year! In the meantime, we wish you häid pühi!

DEAR MEMBERS AND FRIENDS,
THIS POPULAR EVENT IS SOLD OUT! NO MORE SEATS ARE AVAILABLE!
PLEASE VIEW THE EVENTS CALENDAR FOR OUR NEXT ACTIVITY IN JANUARY 2019.
IN THE MEANTIME, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
KFES JUHATUS
November 29, 2018

Dear members and friends of the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts!

Our next event is a favorite and you are invited!

Jõuluõhtusöök ja Jõuluvana
Traditional Estonian-style Christmas dinner with a visit by Santa Claus
Saturday, December 8, 2018
2:00 pm
$30/adult, $10/child
PLEASE BRING A BOTTLE(S) OF YOUR FAVORITE ADULT BEVERAGES TO SHARE
Location: The home of Kaie Põhi Latterner
241 173 Ave
N. Redington Beach, FL 33708

PRE-PAID RESERVATIONS TO KFES TREASURER ANNELIIS KUUSIK BY DECEMBER 1 ARE A MUST; SPACE WILL BE LIMITED FOR THIS EVENT. PLEASE NOTE: THIS EVENT SOLD OUT ON NOVEMBER 29, 2018. WE ARE ACCEPTING NO MORE RESERVATIONS NOR CHECKS.

We are pleased to report that the annual membership dues remain the same: $20 per person. Why not mail in your membership dues with your pre-paid luncheon reservation? Please make your check payable to “Estonian Society of Central Florida” and mail it to:

Ms. Anneliis Kuusik
KFES Treasurer
7069 Key Haven Rd, #505
Seminole, FL 33777

If you plan to bring children, please include their names and ages when you mail in your check.

Until we meet in December, be good! Jõuluvana is keeping a list of those who have been naughty and nice!

KFES Juhatus/Board

P.S. By the way, KFES elves were in the kitchen on Saturday, November 17, 2018, making Christmas sausage. Take a peek here!

The Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) gathered together on Sunday, November 11, 2018, at 2:00 pm, to kick off our activities for the 2018-19 year with our annual business meeting. Thirty-two members came together.
DSCN1397

Altogether 32 members came together for our annual meeting. Kesk Florida Eesti Selts. 11. nov. 2018. Temple Terrace, FL. Foto: Lisa A. Mets

We had a lovely new setting for the location for this meeting. Jüri and Jae Toomepuu opened their beautiful home to us on the Hillsborough River in Temple Terrace, Florida. We were invited to bring appetizers and desserts to bookend the fabulous Korean meal Jae prepared for us. In addition to enjoying each other’s company, the setting offered perfect opportunities for swimming in the Toomepuu’s pool and fishing off their dock.
1. Minutes of the Annual Business Meeting (the agenda is here: Kesk Florida Eesti Selts Agenda Nov 11 2018)

Outgoing President Kersti Linask called the meeting to order at 2:45 pm. Kaie Põhi Latterner volunteered to serve as vote counter. Vice President Lisa Mets silently recorded the names of participating members and they are posted in the KFES guestbook. The members honored the memory of Mr. Henn Rebane, who passed away this past September. Mr. Rebane founded the Estonian Society of Central Florida/Kesk Florida Eesti Selts and served as its second president from 1977 to 2007.

 

Ms. Linask drew members’ attention to the KFES website, where last year’s minutes and activities were posted. The minutes were approved. Treasurer Anneliis Kuusik presented the financial report for 2017-18 and budget for 2018-19. Auditor Jaan Kuuskvere gave the auditors’ report for 2017-18 affirming the accuracy of the treasurer’s report for 2017-18. The financial report, auditors’ report and budget for 2018-19 were approved. Membership dues for 2018-19 will remain the same: $20 per person.

 

The members approved the program of activities for 2018-19 and they are listed below.

 

KFES members elected the following slate of candidates nominated by the juhatus/Board. KFES will operate without a president in 2018-19; the Board members and association believe no hierarchy of officers is needed because the team works together so well.

 

Vice president and webmaster: Lisa A. Mets
Secretary: Regina Reet Cabrera
Treasurer: Anneliis Kuusik
Membership Coordinator: Marju Dishmey
Member-at-Large: Maare Kuuskvere

 

We had one item of old business. KFES agreed the Estonian Honorary Consul for St. Petersburg should be the custodian of the lovely Estonian Kroon historical book gifted to the association in February 2018. The members were delighted to learn that Ms. Kaie Põhi Latterner was appointed Honorary Consul of Estonia for St. Petersburg (FL) effective October 1, 2018. The book will be displayed at the official opening of the new Estonian Honorary Consulate in N. Redington Beach in February 2019 and in future gatherings celebrating Estonian Independence Day.

 

In new business, Ms. Linask shared her report from the annual meeting of the Estonian American National Council, which she attended on our behalf. Ms. Linask noted that her report of our activities was well received; the monthly gatherings we host from October to April were viewed as a most impressive level of activity for a small association. A question was raised about the role of the Estonian American National Council and its relationship to Estonia; while the EANC is chartered as a not-for-profit organization in the US focused on relations with the American government, it acts together with other organizations that interact directly with Estonia’s leaders and government. The right for all Estonians to participate in Estonian elections, made possible through the e-voting system, was noted and all Estonians in the US are encouraged to vote.

 

Also in new business, a member noted his successful efforts transmitting rare books from his Estonian collection to the Baltic collection at Stanford University. He encouraged members to review their collections and preserve them by offering them to Stanford University.

 

Today, we were especially delighted to welcome new members Heinar and Astrid Normet and Ludmila Stelmokene and Hannes Jakobson.

 

The business meeting concluded at 3:40 pm with a huge thank-you and applause to Jae, Jüri and Aldo Toomepuu for generously serving as our hosts and for the fabulously delicious meal they prepared for us. Our potluck approach–appetizers, main course, and dessert–worked well again and we have Tõnu Toomepuu to thank once again for the champagne that flowed freely throughout the afternoon. It was wonderful to be able to come together after our summer break and the return of our snowbirds and engage in lively conversations that never wanted to end.

2. Program of Activities for 2018-19 (approved by the KFES members on November 11, 2018)

 

Annual Business Meeting
Sunday, November 11, 2018
2:00 pm
Gather in the lovely home of Jüri and Jae Toomepuu on the Hillsborough River in Tampa, Florida.

 

Jõuluõhtusöök ja Jõuluvana
Traditional Estonian-style Christmas dinner with a visit by Santa Claus
Saturday, December 8, 2018
2:00 pm
$30/adult, $10/child
PRE-PAID RESERVATIONS TO ANNELIIS KUUSIK BY DECEMBER 1 ARE A MUST; SPACE IS LIMITED. PLEASE PROVIDE THE NAMES AND AGES OF CHILDREN ACCOMPANYING YOU.
The home of Kaie Põhi Latterner
241 173 Ave
N. Redington Beach, FL 33708

 

Eesti suppi ja võileiva lõunasöök
Estonian soup and sandwich lunch
This is a potluck, and we make Estonian-style soups, sandwiches and salads
Sunday, January 27, 2019
2:00 pm
$10/person, children are free
ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE A MUST
Community Center in the Seminole Isles Condominium Complex
(this is where Anneliis Kuusik lives)
7069 Key Haven Rd.
Seminole, FL 33777

 

Eesti Vabariigi Aastapäeva Tähistamine
Celebration of Estonian Independence Day
Saturday, February 23, 2019
11:00 am – 3:00 pm (for the 101st Anniversary of Estonian Independence)
$40/adult; $23/child under 16
ADVANCE PRE-PAID RESERVATIONS TO ANNELIIS KUUSIK BY FEBRUARY 2 ARE A MUST
Feather Sound Country Club
2201 Feather Sound Dr
Clearwater, FL 33762

 

Potluck
Sunday, March 24, 2019
2:00 pm
$5/person, children are free
ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE A MUST
The home of Kaie Põhi Latterner
241 173 Ave
N. Redington Beach, FL 33708

 

Piknik (potluck; our association provides grilled sausages)
Saturday, April 13, 2019
2:00 pm
$5/person
ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE A MUST
Community Center in the Seminole Isles Condominium Complex
(this is where Anneliis Kuusik lives)
7069 Key Haven Rd.
Seminole, FL 33777

 

Fall Gathering
Sunday, October 6, 2019
2:00 pm
Location to be determined
In December the Estonian Society will be welcoming Jõuluvana/Santa Claus to our traditional Estonian-style Christmas dinner. We will be gathering in the home of Kaie Põhi Latterner and pre-paid reservations need to be mailed to KFES Treasurer Anneliis Kuusik by December 1, 2018:

 

Ms. Anneliis Kuusik
KFES Treasurer
7069 Key Haven Rd, #505
Seminole, FL 33777
kuusika09@aol.com

 

Why not mail in your 2018-19 dues ($20 per person) and the cost of the Christmas luncheon ($30 per adult/$10 per child) in one check?! Please make checks payable to “The Estonian Society of Central Florida.”

 

We look forward to seeing you in December!