Editor-in-Chief Jenny Starr Perez on how giving back can lead to gratitude

Jenny Starr Perez
·3 min read

Giving thanks. Giving time. Giving back. While I looked forward to producing our annual Givers Issue, which focuses on the subject of philanthropy and ways in which we can contribute to the community, the topic of giving has been a talking point for much longer than the time it took to create this edition. Since March, news stories about how South Florida residents could lend a hand in these most challenging times were interlaced between headlines about the rise of COVID-19 cases and closure mandates. Whether it was through donations of funds, items or even volunteer work, the community stepped up. Programs were announced. Funds were started. Lives were changed. Giving back became part of the new normal.

For me, one of the highlights was watching the successful launch and blooming of Adopt-A- Family Miami, Inc.’s Fill the Fridge program, designed to serve underprivileged families with children who depend on the school system for a big part of their daily meals and nutrition. Back in late spring, INDULGE Beauty Editor Erin Michelle Newberg helped her friend and co-founder of Adopt-A-Family Miami, Inc., Mytyl Simancas, corral a group of altruistic Miamians to commit to buying groceries for the needy households, most with parents that had lost their jobs due to business closures. Months later, the program (a 501(c) organization) has grown exponentially, raising over $40,000, feeding hundreds of local families and even providing computers to kids participating in virtual learning. This is the power of community.

Jenny Starr Perez
Jenny Starr Perez

One person who led the charge to help his colleagues in the hospitality and restaurant realm is Lee Brian Schrager, founder of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Read my exclusive interview with “Miami’s ‘Food’ Father”, where we discuss the challenges he faced when organizing what became the SOBEWFF® & FIU Chaplin School Hospitality Industry Relief Fund, as well as details regarding the future of the celebrity-chef heavy beachside food festival. Our cover story on Miami’s new “game changers” also highlights important work by locals looking to make advances in their respective industries. My hope is that the inspiring stories of Dr. Tameka Hobbs, Maghan Morin, Jeanine Suah, Alex Ness and Joe Deitch will encourage INDULGE readers to think outside the box in their own lives, challenging themselves to find new ways of doing things. You know, changing the game.

Pop quiz: what is a word that is synonymous with philanthropy in Miami? Parties! This is a city whose residents love nothing better than to dress up to fundraise for their favorite charities. Although many organizations behind our favorite galas and other fun happenings have opted to take the excitement online this year with virtual events, we can still dream about the glammed-up head-to-toe looks worn by South Florida’s who’s-who of party-goers. Skim the pages over to What We Would Have Worn, where INDULGE Senior Fashion Editor Elysze Held and I ask a few of our favorite local philanthropists about the outfits the “could have been” donned to the major events that would have been unforgettably fabulous.

In the year of giving back, I hope you enjoy our latest contribution.

Email Jenny Starr Perez at editor@miamiindulge.com.