And never knowing has fueled Fryd ever since, prompting her to donate thousands of dollars and hours over the years for projects big and small. And hardly ever saying no. Eventually her husband insisted she form a nonprofit, the South Florida Youth Foundation, which Fryd runs by using her own money and donations from larger foundations such as the Batchelor Foundation.
The foundation flies well under the radar of almost everyone, but Fryd is a familiar face in the schools she helps, whether providing band instruments, uniforms or equipment for a state-of-the-art gym. She tries to focus on immediate needs, believing that small gestures can sometimes make a big difference.
She was once at Young Men’s Preparatory Academy when administrators learned a student had missed a critical college application deadline, principal Leonard Ruan explained. Fryd got a friend to convince Syracuse University to take a look at the student. Then, when the student couldn’t afford a plane ticket, she bought one. The student wound up landing a full-ride scholarship for the first year, Ruan said.
“Karen has stepped in and committed herself,” said Ruan, who credited Fryd with singlehandedly increasing the school’s enrollment by a third after recruiting students to the new middle school. “She’s our voice in the community. We talk about schools and school business partnerships. And this is what we’re talking about. Schools are going to get better because people like Karen are attached. She gets more excited than I do.”
Background: An environmental and land use attorney, Sibila has been working to help her community since she was a law student at the University of Miami, where she helped run a tax assistance program. She was the first attorney in Miami-Dade County to be designated a LEED certified professional by the U.S. Green Building Council, and served on the Young Leaders Executive Committee of the United Way and the Estate and Gift Tax Planning Board of the Archdiocese of Miami. She also chaired the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Green Task Force and served on the Miami Green Commission.
Current position: Co-founder of PhilanthroFest, which held its first fair in April connecting 90 nonprofit organizations to volunteers and donors at a daylong outdoor festival in Midtown.
Tip: “There’s nothing better than hearing an actual story about how you’ve impacted someone and what you’ve learned from an experience in volunteering. That becomes the glue that helps bind a potential volunteer and the organization. It’s the human factor.”
Estrellita Sibila grew up in a Cuban family where giving wasn’t a choice.
“My parents were adamant about us giving back, and even though we might have plenty now, we might not always,” she said. “They always made it very important.”
So that meant, sometimes unhappily for Sibila, handing over a favorite Christmas present to donate to a less fortunate kid.
That kind of training led Sibila to weigh philanthropy as much as profession in her life. In college and law school at the University of Miami, she ran a volunteer tax assistance program. She became involved in the Cuban American Bar Association, chaired a green task force for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and served on the board of the United Way’s Young Leaders, along with numerous other activities.