Coastal Star: Co-chairwoman is a great sport at making literacy luncheon a success

Debra Ghostine of Hypoluxo Island takes on volunteer opportunities like athletic events. She pitched softball in her youth and plays tennis and golf. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Stephen Moore

Volunteering and athletics are big parts of Debra Ghostine’s life. In fact, she approaches every volunteer assignment like an athletic competition — working hard and doing the best she can to get the best possible results.
And she excels at both.
For the second consecutive year, Ghostine is co-chair of the Love of Literacy Luncheon hosted by the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County. It takes place March 14 at the Cohen Pavilion at the Kravis Center. The program, presented by Bank of America, will feature New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard as the guest speaker.
“We love it when people are passionate about literacy,” Ghostine said, “and Jacquelyn Mitchard is that type of person.”
If this event, the Literacy Coalition’s largest fundraiser, needed any more accreditation, Mitchard brings it. She has written 12 novels for adults and seven for young adults. The Deep End of the Ocean was part of Oprah’s Winfrey’s first book club list, in 1996, and was made into a motion picture starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
With 600 people to attract to the event and sponsors and donations to secure, along with raffle gifts and auction prizes to collect, Ghostine’s work is detailed and time-consuming.
“She really knows what she is doing,” said co-chair Bernadette O’Grady, program director at WPTV. “Debra is so easy. She is up for anything. She is not intimidated to call people and ask for donations. She is a go-to, get-it-done mom. She must have a time machine because she is always on the go, go, go.”
It seems as if Ghostine, 54, has always been on the go, go, go. Growing up in New Hampshire, she was a hot-shot softball pitcher for her state-champion high school team. She signed a scholarship to pitch for New Hampshire College, where she majored in business administration.
Now Ghostine, her retired husband, Paul, son, Joseph, 14, daughter, Sarah, 12, and two rescued dogs, Bella and Lucky, live an active, sporting life on Hypoluxo Island.
“Summers always revolve around outdoor activities,’’ Ghostine said. “Water skiing, tubing, fishing, boating to the Bahamas. And of course, there is tennis. I am the co-captain of our recreational tennis team at the Ocean Club. And yes, I also play golf.”
Ghostine’s crusade for civic duty has trickled down to her children. Joseph and Sarah, students at the Gulf Stream School, have started a nonprofit organization called Bones and Me, which donates money to rescue and shelter dogs.
“They are really into it,” Ghostine said. “They have around 8,500 followers on Instagram and Facebook and are looking to go nationwide. We are looking forward to growing and trying to support as many shelters as we can. My kids do not like the idea of dogs not being cared for and not getting homes.”
Her children’s school also receives the benefit of Ghostine’s expertise. She is on the board of directors at Gulf Stream School, in charge of marketing, trustees and events.
But all other volunteer gigs have been on hold lately since she has been busy with the 28th annual Love of Literacy Luncheon.
“It can be almost a year-round job,” she said. “We are always thinking about it and talking about it.”
Her support system is well intact. Literacy Coalition CEO Kristin Calder sees to that.
“I met her through the Gulf Stream School about seven or eight years ago,” Calder said. “And she worked with us on a Literacy Coalition program. I remember she was always volunteering for jobs that nobody else wanted. She was incredible.
“This luncheon is a great place to showcase what we are doing, and it is great to have someone as gracious and friendly and pleasant and cordial as Debra running it.”

If You Go
What: Love of Literacy Luncheon
When: Registration begins at 11 a.m. March 14
Where: Kravis Center’s Cohen Pavilion
Tickets: Start at $150
Info: 279-9103 or

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