Helping People

Stories inspire us to build a stronger South Florida


The holidays are around the corner, and with them comes the season of giving. It is my pleasure to bring to you the Miami Herald’s annual Giving section, dedicated to spotlighting the wonderful spirit of giving in our community.

Our Giving section focuses on the heartwarming and inspirational stories of the individuals and organizations in South Florida who work so tirelessly to help others.

Corporations are championing volunteerism, and employees are pitching in year-round. Darrill Gaschler, COO of HandsOn Miami, has witnessed this growth firsthand.

“You can plot a straight upward line of interest in the six years I’ve been involved. And not only are we seeing more interest, but we’re also seeing companies bringing more employees, asking for longer projects and doing it more frequently,” Gaschler told Miami Herald writer Ana Veciana-Suarez in today’s cover story.

It’s also great to see the continued growth of the philanthropic groups that have deep roots in our community.

United Way celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, an impressive milestone. La Liga Contra el Cancer is celebrating its 40th year providing cancer treatment at no cost to the needy and uninsured. Also here in South Florida, two automotive pioneers — Charles Dascal of South Motors and Jim Moran of JM Family Enterprises — have left a substantial legacy in our community, long after their passing.

Groups helping students also are making big strides in our community, from Carnival Foundation's mentoring and scholarship program for high school students to former Miami Heat star Shane Battier and his Battier Take Charge Foundation, which gives four-year, $20,000 college scholarships to exemplary students with financial hardships.

Students themselves are pitching in, seeing needs in the community and rising to the challenge. Consider Billy and Jake Reis, two brothers from Christopher Columbus High School, who are educating student athletes about the risks of concussions in sports.

It’s clear that everyone has a cause he or she is passionate about, and that’s why the Miami Foundation created Give Miami Day, a 24-hour online campaign with the goal of raising $5 million for hundreds of local nonprofits. Now in its third year, Give Miami Day has been a real success story, raising $3.2 million in 2013. The next Give Miami Day will be Thursday, Nov. 20 — a wonderful opportunity to donate to the amazing number of diverse organizations that are doing so much for South Florida.

Inspiring? You bet. Just like the other stories in this section. I hope you enjoy them, and take with you the sense that we can all play a role in making South Florida a better place to live.

Alexandra Villoch

President and Publisher, Miami Herald