Women Power a global issue with a local connection

Representatives from the Annual Luncheon’s major sponsors: (top row) Robin Johnson of Merrill Stevens, Patricia Rosello of Baptist Health South Florida, Julie Williamson of Akerman Senterfitt, Sophia Galvin of Macy’s, (bottom row) School Board Member Evelyn Greer, Penny Shaffer of BlueCross BlueShield of Florida, Claudia Kitchens of Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade, Evelyn Cohan, and Aletha Player of Florida Power and Light.

The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade Annual “Power of the Purse II” Luncheon broke all previous records raising more than $320,000 with a crowd of 1,100 who packed the ballroom at the Hilton Miami Downtown (formerly the Radisson/Omni) on April 18.

Guests enjoyed a reception and silent auction prior to lunch that featured an incredible selection of high end purses. In addition, the Women’s Fund partnered with the Fair Trade Federation to create the Women’s Fund Global Marketplace, featuring items made by women artisans from around the world, including Mexico, Kenya, Rwanda, Peru, Chile, and Haiti.

The Global Marketplace was such a hit that bidding wars broke out. Many items sold well above retail value and proceeds from the event will benefit the Women’s Fund’s grant making, advocacy and community-building efforts addressing unmet needs of women and girls in Miami-Dade County.

This year’s theme, “Celebrating the Power of Women to Connect Globally,” emphasized Miami’s special role as an international city, with the power to make a difference throughout the world. In keeping with this theme, Women’s Fund partnered with Women Thrive Worldwide (www.womenthrive.org ) to highlight the GROWTH Act, a groundbreaking bill now before Congress that has the potential to help lift millions of women in the developing world out of poverty. Women Thrive Worldwide President and Co-Founder Ritu Sharma Fox gave a Keynote Address. During her moving speech she explained that she became an advocate for women’s rights around the world because both of her grandmothers died young due to discrimination and poverty.

While The Global Marketplace was a hit, the Power of the Purse Auction offered a fanstastic assortment of designer purses donated for the cause by Prada, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Tory Burch, Jill Sander, Chloe, Burberry, Versace, Matthew Williamson, Lucky Brand Jeans, Juicy Couture, Calvin Klein, Botkier, Valextra, and many, many more.

Claudia Kitchens, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund, notes that WF the only organization in Miami-Dade solely dedicated to funding and supporting innovative gender-specific programs in this community. Director of Development Tiffany Zientz Heckler credits the organization’s commitment of key philanthropic leaders for creating the momentum, which led to this year’s record-breaking fundraising.

During the program Margarita Codina, Norka Munilla, Sharon Socol and Rhonda Smith welcomed guests as the event’s Co-Chairs. Dolores Ziff, Honorary Co-Chair, was recognized for her significant contribution to the Women’s Fund in the past year. She was given a bouquet of flowers and a beautiful basket made by a women’s collective in Africa. The colorful hand-woven baskets served as centerpieces for the luncheon tables and were available for guests to purchase after the event. At the end of the day, many guests walked out juggling several multi-colored baskets and items won at the silent auctions.

This year’s major sponsors included: Mentor Sponsor, Baptist Health South Florida and Advocate Sponsors, Akerman Senterfitt, Merrill Stevens, Macy’s, Florida Power & Light Company, School Board Member Evelyn Greer, Evelyn & Norman H. Cohan and BlueCross BlueShield of Florida.

In another record breaking fundraiser, Juntos Foundation partied all night raising scholarship funds like never before. In all began when former Westminster Christian students and alumni came together with other friends to form JUNTOS, a foundation created to honor the lives of their classmates, Juanchi de la Rua and Ramiro ‘Toti’ Mendez, both star athletes who died untimely deaths almost 10 years ago.

Once fellow classmates had become successful in their careers, they focused on creating this foundation to honor two people they loved and to raise funds in their name for scholarships at educational institutions including FIU and Westminster Christian School. The organization has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in its short 4 year existence with some awesome fundraisers.

Most recently General Motors was the title sponsor for The Fourth Annual JunTos Event held May 3, at Parrot Jungle. From 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., 900 or so guests enjoyed a great silent auction of fine art donated by 50 artists, great food, open bar from Southern Wine & Spirits, Cigars, a live band, entertainment, and the presentation of the JunTos 2008 Courage Award presented to Lamar Morris, a young man who courageously fought back from a life threatening illness and has survived thanks to an organ donor. He encouraged all to be organ donors. Gulliver Prep Senior Danielle Arostegui was recently announced as a winner of the 2008 National Merit® Scholarship Program that comes with a $2,500 scholarship award. The competition for this program is great as more than 1.4 million juniors in 21,000 or so high schools were entered in the program by taking the 2006 Preliminary SAT/Nation Merit Scholarship Qualifying test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which serves as the first step in the yearly screening process.

The nation-wide pool of semifinalists included the highest scoring students in each state. The National Merit Scholarship® Awards will be presented in late spring 2008. The Miami Art Museum announced recently that Target is providing a grant to underwrite this year’s edition of the award-winning MAM in the Neighborhood program. For those unfamiliar with this program, MAM in the Neighborhood brings activities to neighborhood centers throughout Miami- Dade County and children. The program won a 2007 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties, an award that recognizes effective and innovative programs which enhance community life by increasing services to citizens. A program summary of MAM in the Neighborhood is now in the organization’s Model Programs database, allowing users nation-wide to benefit from – and be inspired by — MAM’s experience. Kudos to Target and MAM for this wonderful outreach.

Guests at a recent advance screening of “How The Garcia Girls Spent their Summer,” presented by the Women’s International Film Festival (WIFF), had a chance to meet the stars Elizabeth Peña (The Lost City) and Steven Bauer (Scarface). The event, held at the Botanical Gardens on South Beach was an exclusive, one time, Miami only event held May 7/ In addition to meeting the stars, film goers also enjoyed a reception, a discount shopping pass for Macy’s South Beach from 12-7pm with free makeovers, as well as a complimentary personal shopping experience, just in time for Mother’s Day and tickets included a one year membership in WIFF. For more information on this organization, go online to http://www.womensfilmfest.com.

Coral Gables Rotarians held one of the the last functions at the Country Club of Coral Gables before moving, temporarily, their Thursday meetings at noon, to the Westin Colonnade at 160 Aragon, in Coral Gables. The Country Club of Coral Gables has been closed until a decision on the Club’s future is decided. For South Miami Rotarians and other Rotarians looking to visit the Gables Club for a make up, you may want to check with the Colonnade to verify the location of those meetings in the next few weeks… Until next week, keep making each day count.

Keeping up with what’s happening in our community is quite a challenge and I am certain there are many activities I miss. If you would like to submit information for this column, please send your news via e-mail to galburns@aol.com .

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A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel , non profit consulting and management. Before joining Miami's Community Newspapers as a columnist and marketing specialist, Gloria was the Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee (6 yrs.) and first Executive Director of the Coral Gables Community Foundation (14 yrs.) and the Pinecrest Community Foundation (1 ½ yrs) . Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist for Community Newspapers writing Gloria’s Gab, that focuses on the non-profit activity, and a host of an online show, Gloria's Gab LIVE. Gloria serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables as Civic and Charity Chair, and is involved in the club's International Committee. She is an active Life Member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee and is Secretary of the Merrick Festival. She serves on the board of directors of the Coral Gables Woman' Club as Publicity Chair and also coordinates the club's monthly fundraiser for various charities with Gringo Bingo at Clutch Burger. In addition, Gloria participates in numerous other charitable events and is a member of the Business Forum Group, Profit Inc., the Greater Miami Festival & Events Association and the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. In other volunteer activity, Gloria helps Miami Christian School with fund-raising and PR; is an Ambassador and volunteers for events for A Safe Haven for Newborns. She is an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church where she enjoys singing in the choir every weekend.