Taking off the golves and rolling up their sleeves

Taking off the golves and rolling up their sleevesThis past month, I was invited to a community advisory board meeting hosted by the Junior League of Miami. I joined several other local leaders and Junior League officers for an open and candid conversation about today’s Junior League and how the organization has evolved over the past few years.

As many of you know, this civicminded service and leadership organization has been around for nearly 90 years, with their headquarters located in The City Beautiful in a gorgeous 1920s building on Biltmore Way.

What I learned that day was how critical the Junior League has been to our community for the past nine decades. We would not have a science museum without their vision and persistence. We would not be the beneficiaries of countless hours of dedicated service from nearly 1,000 women working toward a common vision to address issues of poverty and homelessness, family violence, children and women’s health and foster care. We would not be the Miami we are today without the amazing work of generations of talented — and determined — women seeking to make a lasting impact.

The legacy of the Junior League reaches far beyond our local community, but the effects of this incredible culture of service have helped shape our hometown in many ways. Gone are the white evening gloves — replaced by heavy-duty work gloves that cover the hands of those doing the heavy lifting in our Miami. These women have been rolling up their sleeves for years and for this we are truly grateful. I am equally proud to call so many of these amazing women my dearest friends. They have taught me so much and not just about writing the perfect thank you note.

As an integral part of the fabric that is Miami’s non-profit community, the Junior League was one of the many organizations that benefitted from Give Miami Day this past Nov. 19. More than 200 folks donated to the League, joining thousands of other benefactors who ultimately gave more than $7.1 million on a single day to support the vast and varied non-profits that contribute to our greater community. What is more impressive than the millions of dollars raised is the galvanizing nature of Give Miami Day. Each non-profit worked their contacts hard and put on a social media blitzkrieg that lasted far beyond the 24 hours of Give Miami Day.

With a tip of the cap to the Miami Foundation — the brain trust behind Give Miami Day — it is incredible to think of the breadth and depth of support that exists in our local community. I love the energy of the program, the spirit of camaraderie, the friendly competition it creates and the ability for all of us to be focused on one single goal for a full day. With so many distractions at our fingertips, Give Miami Day refocuses our energies and raises our competitive lather. All day long, I watched the tote board…and as it got heavier, I wanted to see even more.

I received hundreds of emails regarding various non-profits seeking support on Give Miami Day (both leading up to and during the day of), as well as an equal amount of Facebook messages, posts and texts. People were relentless in their pursuit for their favorite organization, as well as the goal of achieving something much greater than a donation.

We were all part of something special that day — fully invested and truly engaged — and the outcomes matter. Today and into the future.

One of the most amazing things I witnessed were families who got their children involved, offering them $100 each to donate to a local charity of their choice. Talk about teaching a tangible lesson on philanthropy early in life. Wow! Way to go mom and dad…and thanks for making me cry just thinking about how amazing this moment in a young person’s life may be for instilling a lifetime of giving.

The Junior League Miami ended their day on a high note, as you would expect. With more than 1,000 women engaged in the organization — and we all know that women usually make the decisions when it comes to philanthropic giving — they raised more than $22,000 in a single day. Thank you notes to follow! But, what’s even more amazing is that I bet most of the League’s members also gave to other non-profits on that day, as well. These ladies learned the importance of giving in their service to the League and Miami is so much better for it.

There are even more high notes for the Junior League of Miami in the next few months as the women continue to change the community for the better. From Apr. 7 to 24, the 2016 Junior League of Miami Showhouse fundraiser will transform The Kampong, a historic property in Coconut Grove.Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of The Kampong, the former home of plant-explorer David Fairchild, Junior League of Miami will refresh rooms across four buildings on the property to raise funds and awareness of the programs and community projects it spearheads to help women and children in need across Miami.

Presented by Mercedes Benz of Coral Gables and Cutler Bay, The Showhouse will welcome visitors Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

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