You may not know this but since 2019, the Miami Beach Chamber is the managing agent for the City of Miami Beach’s Sister City program, which is co-chaired by Moni Cohen & George Neary. A Sister City, for those who also don’t know, is a city that is linked to another city in order to create cultural exchanges that create community impact and kindle lifelong friendships.
Miami Beach has a few in places around the world including our two most recent Sister Cities, Cascais, Portugal, and Odessa, Ukraine. We still have wonderful relations with our very first Sister City- Fujisawa, Japan.
Under the leadership of the Chamber’s Immediate Past Chair Robin Jacobs, the Chamber was able to request a Resolution, with the full support of Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, to start the affiliation process with the City of Odessa, Ukraine. The City Commission supported the Resolution at its last Commission meeting in April and this will be a tri-parte agreement between Miami, Miami Beach and Odessa, with the full support of Miami Mayor Suarez.
As stated in the Resolution, The City of Miami Beach expresses a grave concern with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is not only ongoing but appears to be increasing in scale and severity. Since Miami Beach prides itself in being an inclusive and international community, an alliance with Odessa will bind our cities for future generations and will hopefully serve to promote peace, understanding and support for the Ukrainian people.
Odessa is located along the Ukraine coast and is known for wonderful beaches and is a major seaport as well as a transit hub located in the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. It is also known for being a popular beach holiday spot and a cultural community – much like Miami Beach.
Once final approval is arranged, we will commence a continual dialogue and financial support (through donations and other funding sources) with the Mayor of Odessa. Currently, we are working on a letter writing campaign where Miami Beach children communicate with counterparts in Ukraine in support of their freedom and safety and expressing our hope that they will be able to grow-up in a more peaceful time. We hope to have more information later on and will keep you posted on how this develops.
On another note, the Chamber is honoring Michael Capponi from the Global Empowerment Movement, which is on the ground, on the Poland/Ukraine border, supporting the Ukrainian people. Michael is leading those efforts personally. On the second day of the crisis, Global Empowerment Mission and BStrong arrived in Medyka, Poland, offering aid and support to refugees fleeing Ukraine. Since then, they have established solutions and strategies to recognize and assist all those affected not only in Ukraine, but those displaced in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Moldova, Georgia, and beyond. The Chamber has helped raise funds for the group and is hosting a dinner in May in collaboration with A Fish Called Avalon where all the funds from the dinner will go to GEM. When you see Michael at the June Chamber Dinner Gala, thank him please for his humanitarian efforts and spirit.
In December of 2019, the Chamber hosted a delegation to Cascais, Portugal to officially affiliate with the city as a Sister City. Like Odessa, the coastal city of Cascais is very similar to Miami Beach with common goals and issues. Recently, the Miami Beach Chamber hosted two delegates from Cascais Portugal, Councilman Francisco Kreye, in charge of Sports and International Affairs and the President of the Tourism Board of Cascais, Mr. Bernardo Correa de Barros.
The delegates received tours of our beautiful city on Art and Culture, Historic Districts, Museums, Lincoln Road and Collins Park areas, with presentations by the City of Miami Beach Parks and Recreation Department on Community Sports, the Department of Environment on Sea Level Rise and Climate Change. A discussion on Tourism by the GMCVB rounded out their Miami Beach educational tour. Mr. Kreye and Mr. Barros, along with city dignitaries, chamber staff and members, Officials of the Dance Now Miami organization, and guests were entertained with a dance presentation by Dance Now Miami and Danca em Dialogos ( a dance troop from Cascais) at a wonderful reception at the Miami Beach Woman’s Club. At the event, Mayor Gelber presented Councilman Kreye a Proclamation “Cascais Day” and a Key to the City. I would like to thank our co-chairs George & Moni for their outstanding leadership.
Hopefully, our next Sister City delegation will be able to visit and find Odessa again being a thriving peaceful city. Wishing the Ukrainian people Peace, Safety, Freedom and Prosperity.