A number of community leaders from Cutler Bay and neighboring areas came together for a special fundraising event benefiting Catholic Charities Children’s Village on Thursday, May 22. Called “AWorld Through Our Eyes” the event featured food from around the world, a silent auction, raffles, drinks and a chance to learn more about the program run by Children’s Village. It took place at Palmetto Bay Village Center on Old Cutler Road at SW 184th Street and its goal was to raise funds for the center’s emergency services.
Donations will cover medical emergencies, clothing needs, wellness services, facility maintenance and improvements, youth activities and transitional services for the children who are victims of abuse, exploitation and human trafficking. It succeeded in raising $15,000 so far, with the chance and the hope that more donations will continue to be made.
Cutler Bay Councilmember Sue Ellen Loyzelle explained how the event came together.
“Karen Husted, director of Children’s Village, approached me in December to assist her with a fundraiser to help the center with emergency needs,” Loyzelle said. “The first person that came to my mind was Jean Tong-Noon from JTN Creates. I called her and she jumped into action.
“We added Joann Parns from Palmetto Bay Events and Mercy Hernandez from the Edge Foundation. I then reached out to Milenka Bedwell from the YMCA to volunteer and she agreed. We rounded out our committee with Karen Husted and Milegros Sotamayor from Children’s Village. We held our first meeting and everything came together like clockwork.
Jean was a remarkable leader and was able to secure the majority of the food.” Loyzelle said that Milenka Bedwell’s graphic design work was “incredible” and that she was able to take the children’s artwork and design the invitation and posters with the children’s descriptions of their journey.
Loyzelle appreciated everyone’s hard work gathering raffle and silent auction items and all the volunteers’ efforts. “I have to say I feel the event was all we could have imagined and more,” Loyzelle said.
“I feel everyone had a grand time and enjoyed the experience. It is my hope to continue this next year. The children of this center are so appreciative of anything you do and are in such need. So many guests at the event came up to me and asked how they could help. My answer was to contact Karen on volunteer opportunities.”
Loyzelle added that the children are always in need of personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant and feminine products, due to the high turnover of youth at the center. With summer here they also are in need of swimsuits.
“We will take them to the YMCA for swim lessons and none of the children have these items,” Loyzelle said. “Look in your closets and see if you have swim suits for the kids who are ages 7-17.”
Jean Tong-Noon explained why the cause was important to her, and why donations are still needed.
“Since Jan. 1, about 600 children have passed through this safe haven,” Tong- Noon said. “Karen Husted, who’s in charge of the center, has been trying her best to take care of these kids, but as we all know they get sick and need medical care. Many of us provide a variety of items, such as clothing, toys and furniture, but dollars are needed, hence our efforts to help.”
Sponsors of the event were Toro Engineering & Construction Corp., Sal’s Italian Ristorante, Catering Shop, FPL, Palmetto Bay Events, 2Taste Catering, Waste Management, Best Office, Baptist Health South Florida, Intellaclaim Public Adjusters, EDGE Charitable Foundation, Printing on the Mark, We’re Having a Party, Verdeja/De Armas CPA, The Spanish Honor Society of St. Thomas Aquinas, Starbucks, Pub Grill, Sgt. Peppers Subs, JMT Creates, Old Cutler Academy Learning Center, Costa Farms, Allied Paper Co., Best Office, South Dade Family YMCA, Clarin Eye Center, Cristina Morgado Photography & Design, Blooming Gardens, Miami-Dade Commissioner Lynda Bell, LouLee Catering, Deering Estate Foundation and Sunstate Bank.
“I would like to thank all of the sponsors of the event and those who donated silent auction items and raffle gifts,” Loyzelle said. “We could not have pulled this off without their help. Who would have thought that when I stopped in one day three years ago to learn about this center that it would have touched me so much. I believe that it is all about connecting Ms. Husted with the resources we have in our community to help her grow her program. It will always be a passion of mine to help.”
Children’s Village is a 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax deductible.