The Melissa Institute shares theme of ‘Peace, Harmony, Moonlight,’ at Fairchild Tropical Gardens fundraiser

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The Melissa Institute, a Miami-based nonprofit dedicated to the study and prevention of violence through education, community service, research support, and consultation, hosted its annual fundraiser, “Peace, Harmony & Moonlight,” March 16 at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens.

The Institute’s mission is to prevent violence and promote safer communities through education and application of research-based knowledge. The event’s theme is offered as follows:

  • Peace: The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment is a nonprofit organization whose is to reduce the incidence of violence. Our hope is for peace.
  • Harmony: Beautiful live music caressed guests as soft breezes whisper around them. They enjoyed wine and dined with friends old and new. It was a gathering that promoted harmony — the kind you hear and the kind you feel.
  • Moonlight: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden at night is a magical place. Guests took a special tram ride through the garden in the moonlight as they viewed sculpture by internationally renowned artists. It was a peaceful, memorable evening that will long linger with guests after the moonlight has faded.

On May 5, 1995, Melissa Aptman was murdered in St. Louis. A Miami native, she was just two weeks away from graduation from Washington University. A year after her death, Melissa’s family, friends and violence prevention experts established The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment to honor her memory and make a difference by working to prevent violence and assist victims.

The Melissa Institute is based at the University of Miami’s Max Orovitz Building, 1507 Levante Ave., #331, Coral Gables, FL 33146‎. Contact the organization’s offices at or call 305-284-2930.

Board photo above: Etiony Aldarondo, Ph.D., Provost at Carlos Abizu University; Past President of The Melissa Institute Suzanne L. Keeley, Ph.D.; Melissa’s mother, Lynn Aptman, M.Ed., President & Founder of The Melissa Institute; Executive Director of The Melissa Institute Heather D. Winters, LMHC, M.S.Ed.; VP of The Melissa Institute Karyn I. Cunningham, UTD Government & Community Engagement Specialist and Councilmember District-1 Village of Palmetto Bay; Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia of the Eleventh Circuit’s G.R.A.C.E. Court (Growth Renewed through Acceptance, Change & Empowerment); Dr. Daniel A. Santisteban, Ph.D., Psychologist/Professor and Director-Dunspaugh Dalton Community & Educational Well-Being Research Center, School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami

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Bill Kress
Bill Kress, President of Kress Communications, is an editorial consultant with the Community Newspapers, covering business news, non-profits, and municipal government. He is an award-winning public relations practitioner, news reporter, photographer, and a prolific social mediologist. Reach Bill at or call 305-763-2429.

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