100 years of impact: United Way Miami leads with hearts and hands for a stronger community

Founded in 1924, less than 30 years after the city of Miami was officially incorporated, United Way Miami started building its place in the community to help local families through some of the most turbulent times.

And now, with Miami-Dade County rapidly transforming, “experiencing increasing wage gaps, the high cost of living, and the high supply of jobs with low demand of talent, United Way Miami continues to focus on solving issues with a targeted approach.”

“I am truly proud of this moment and to lead this amazing organization into this pivotal milestone,” said Symeria T. Hudson, president and CEO of United Way Miami.

“As we stand on a new horizon for United Way Miami, we’re at the forefront of forging innovative solutions to the complex issues facing our residents. Through strategic partnerships, we’re making a collective impact that extends far beyond our local boundaries.

“By uniting Miami’s public and private sectors, we’re amplifying our efforts to uplift our community and achieve tangible, long-lasting outcomes.”

United Way Miami leads 14 initiatives to help the underserved and provides funding, expertise, research, advocacy, public awareness and volunteers to nearly 100 programs at more than 60 local agencies.

Every year, United Way Miami’s work affects the lives of more than 230,000 individuals. The organization helps families facing unexpected hardships and enables them to plan for a stable, more hopeful financial future.

United Way also helps military veterans get training for in-demand careers and helps children reach their full potential by providing quality early education. It provides older adults with nutritious meals, in-home personal care, and fitness programs. Get help, donate, or volunteer at unitedwaymiami.org/.


Summer in Miami means flowering trees, and especially the spectacular red and gold royal poincianas. To celebrate them, the Tropical Flowering Tree Society will sponsor the 87th Annual Royal Poinciana Fiesta, the longest-running festival in Miami-Dade County.

Events include walking tours, trolley tours, a tree history symposium, a tree painting party, a Father’s Day bike tour and a tree planting ceremony at the historic Opa-locka Seaboard Air Line Railroad Station. Many of the events are free or reasonably priced, and the public is invited.

The Celebration Party and Reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. June 9, at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Guests will meet the Royal Poinciana Court Scholarship winners, and the Schokman Book Award will be announced. Famous Poinciana Cake will be served.

There will also be an exhibition of Key West Bahamian-Conch artist Ray Rolston’s vibrant works featuring royal poincianas. It will be curated by the late artist’s daughter, Michelle, who will be in attendance.

Limited edition Royal Poinciana Fiesta posters will be for sale. The party is free and open to the public, but guests are requested to bring a dish to share or make a donation.

The fiesta is supported by the city of Coral Gables, TREEmendous Miami, Fairchild, Dade Heritage Trust, Bike Walk Coral Gables, Coral Gables Garden Club and generous individuals. All proceeds are for scholarships for young women in horticulture or related fields, and to further the mission of the Tropical Flowering Tree Society. More is at www.royalp.org.


Congratulations to Harry Florin, who was named a semifinalist in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. He is a senior at Miami Country Day School, where he is school president and an honored swimmer.

Harry has been involved in volunteer programs to help clean up Miami and feed its underserved community. He also founded an organization that raised money for the people of Ukraine. He will be attending the Honors College of the University of Florida, where he is a recipient of the Presidential Platinum scholarship.

“Harry has also done original research on the impact of extracurricular programs on career perceptions in at-risk teens,” said proud parents Alice and Todd Florin.

Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, established in 1964, is one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities.


The public is invited on June 8 to celebrate Miami’s Ocean Day on the beach. The event is part of global efforts that merge art, advocacy, and action to inspire all-ages.

Two non-profits, ARTSail and Blue Scholars Initiative, are hosting the day’s events, dedicated to raising ocean awareness. Learn more about all the family-friendly activities at bluescholars.org/events.

An Ocean Day visit in the morning, on Miami Beach at 36th Street, will be free, except for the mile-swim. The nighttime event at the UM Rosenstiel School for the Sheroes panelists and International Ocean Film Festival is ticketed.


Registration is now open through July 5 for Summer Theatre Camp at Florida International University. Organizers say the camp helps children develop their social skills, explore their creativity and boost their confidence.

In the mornings, campers engage in interactive classes that focus on storytelling, voice, movement, music and improvisation. In the afternoons, they apply these skills to create, rehearse and perform their own play, which they will present to family and friends on the last day.

The camp runs July 8-26 and is open to kids ages 6–14, with no previous acting or theater experience necessary. It is held on FIU’s main campus at the Main Stage and Black Box theatres in the Wertheim Performing Arts Center. Sign up at carta.fiu.edu/theatre/discover/summercamp/

Write to ChristinaMMayo@gmail.com with news for this column.