Observer: Children First Celebrates Jo Rutstein

May 26, 2018

A boy with a blue pail on his head, posing for the camera
A boy in a black and red striped shirt playing in the playground

(Longboat Observer- Katie Johns): Jo Rutstein thought she was picking up tablecloths and linens from Children First on March 23.  But her husband, Stan Rutstein, and the staff of Children First had some other ideas as March 23 happened to be her birthday.

As Jo Rutstein walked into the room where she thought the linens were awaiting her, a group of 50 yelled “surprise!”  From the look on Rutstein’s face and the tears that followed, it’s safe to say the group pulled off the surprise.

Rutstein is a former member of the Children First Board of Directors and continues to support the organization. Last year, the organization named its new playground “Jo’s Place” in honor of Rutstein, who helped secure a grant to fund the new playground from the Rotary Club of Sarasota, of which Rutstein is also a member.

As a birthday gift, new playground equipment, including water tables and tricycles, was donated in Jo Rutstein’s honor.  When her happy tears had been wiped away, Rutstein made the rounds around the room hugging her friends.

“I am so humbled that so many people took time out of their lives to be here,” she said.

And if asked, she’ll stick with the story that she’s turning 39 going on 29.

For the full story and more photos from the Observer, CLICK HERE!