Best Place to Volunteer - 2009
The Florida Research Institute for Equine Nurturing, Development and Safety Inc. ranch is just a good place — for birds, for raccoons, for pigs and goats and donkeys, for a family of very happy old farm cats, and especially for the 40 horses rescued by the ranch. The horses are available for sponsorship, but their full-time caretaker and custodian is 60-year-old woman Lynne Mandry: a no-shit-taking kind of chick who most every morning loads 40 horses' worth of hay and alfalfa onto a tractor, distributes it to the horses, brings the animals in from pasture, loads and distributes a bunch of feed, checks the horses for wounds or signs of illness, gives them their meds, tops off their water, and then preps their feed trays for the next day. She moves tons of grain, gives lime dips and baths, tends to the pigs and goats, and generally keeps the ranch's animal populations alive and healthy. It's a lot for a lady to do, and she's always grateful for help. Those who decide to offer it wind up grateful too — for the opportunity to get out in the air, befriend some fantastic creatures, and do good for their fellow mammals.
It was a banner year for white-collar criminals, and it seems that every single one of 'em had Boca Raton stomping grounds. Bernard Madoff suckered Boca members of the Palm Beach Country Club. Alleged mini-Madoffs R. Allen Stanford of the Stanford Group and $700 million man Marc Dreier both kept Boca Raton offices, presumably to tap into a vein of wealthy, miserly retirees liable to look credulously at fairly incredulous investment returns. So by the time the feds busted Boca accountant Steven Rubinstein in early April, the financial-fraud superstar trope had run its course. And that's a shame, because if the case against him is any indication, Rubinstein deserves his place on the region's Mount Rushmore of fraudsters. Where his cohorts were flamboyant and reckless in their greed, Rubinstein was modest, punctilious even — his alleged crimes swimming in a sea with those of hundreds, maybe thousands of other filthy-rich Americans who relied upon the secrecy of Swiss bank accounts to swindle the U.S. of A. out of tax dollars. In Rubinstein's case, it meant the alleged failure to report millions of dollars held in UBS accounts. But after the U.S. Justice Department and IRS caught the Swiss bank in its cheat, UBS had to pay a $780 million settlement and betray the confidences of its wealthy clientele. The first sacrificial lamb to be offered: the suddenly luckless Steven Rubenstein, a 55-year-old with a pristine legal history who probably never imagined he'd see the inside of a jail cell. Surely, as the feds pry open this massive can of worms, there will be many more Rubinsteins. But if Swiss tax shelters were a Garden of Eden to the nation's most affluent, then Rubenstein is Adam, alleged committer of the original sin whose exile may stand as a lesson to all who come hence.