Community Voices

Lori Brener Scholarship Fund of Big Brothers Big Sisters raises money for ‘Littles’

Helping to raise funds for the Lori Brener Scholarship Fund of the Women’s Committee Big Brothers Big Sisters are, from left: Miriam Salazar, Sonia Gibson, Darrin Smith, Julia Alba and Neyda Raola.
Helping to raise funds for the Lori Brener Scholarship Fund of the Women’s Committee Big Brothers Big Sisters are, from left: Miriam Salazar, Sonia Gibson, Darrin Smith, Julia Alba and Neyda Raola. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

The Women’s Committee Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrated the life and legacy of one of their own at a recent Bollywood-style night of dancing and dining in Wynwood.

More than 200 guests gathered for the fifth anniversary of the inception of the Lori Brener Scholarship Fund of the Women’s Committee Big Brothers Big Sisters, which raises money for “Littles” in the organization’s mentoring programs.

Brener was born in Miami on Sept. 14, 1966, and graduated from Miami Coral Park High School and the University of Florida with a degree in Fine Arts and a minor in Drama. Though she started out as an actress, Brener wanted to work behind the camera and so she moved to Los Angeles. There she became a successful commercial, video, and film producer.

She also became involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters and volunteered at numerous events alongside her mother, longtime Women’s Committee member Miriam Salazar.

Sadly, Brener died unexpectedly in 2009 at the age of 42. The Women’s Committee renamed the scholarship, started three years before, to honor her.

“We are so happy that our Women’s Committee chose to honor Lori’s memory by enabling future generations of our young people to have the opportunity to go to college or vocational school and succeed in life,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO and President Lydia Muniz in a release.

This year the group honored Darrin Smith, a former “Little” of the program and now a Big Brother himself. He is a National Ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters and is in the University of Miami Football Hall of Fame, as well as a two-time Super Bowl Champion.

Julia Alba headed up the recent event with co-chairs Sonia Gibson and Salazar. Neyda Raola and Susan Rutrough chaired the silent auction.

To learn more about The Women’s Committee of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lori Brener Scholarship Fund and its assistance for deserving “Littles” who are pursuing their higher-level educational goals, visit

Big Brothers Big Sisters has a waiting list of 1,000 “Littles” in need of a supportive adult to guide and mentor them to be their best. Sixty percent of those waiting are boys needing a Big Brother. To learn how you can make a positive difference in a life, and change your life too, go to


Congratulations to Harry William Sanchez who earned his Eagle Scout rank after spending 10 years fulfilling hundreds of requirements, camping and community service hours with Troop 76. The troop is chartered to St. Philips Episcopal Church in Coral Gables.

Harry, 16, who is in 11th grade at Ransom Everglades School, is also a recipient of the Medal of Merit awarded by the Boy Scouts of America National Court of Honor. Harry, then 11, saved a 6-year-old child from drowning in 2010.

His Eagle Scout Badge was earned through his final project of building and installing owl and bat houses at the A.D. Barnes Park and Nature Center near South Miami.

According to the National Eagle Scout Association, only about five percent of boys in scouting reach the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.

Harry is a designer and builder for the award-winning robotics team at his school. He and two classmates recently qualified for the state competition in robotics. Harry is taking steps toward a career in robotic engineering.


The Deering Estate Foundation’s Wine On Harvest Moon will celebrate its 15th anniversary 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., Oct. 15, at 16701 SW 72 Ave., Palmetto Bay. Proceeds from this event go toward “preserving, protecting and enhancing the Deering Estate for this and future generations.”

Connoisseurs of fine wines, foods and art gather each year to enjoy the diversity of cultures under the light of the Harvest Moon over Biscayne Bay. This year the focus is on the flavors of South Africa.

Auction Master of Ceremonies is golfer Wayne Gary Player, co-creator of The Disney Institute Golf Experience, co-host of the Golf Channel’s “On the Range” and son of the champion South African golfer Gary Player. The auction includes a once-in-a-lifetime golf experience with Wayne and Gary Player in South Africa.

Capacity is limited and tickets are $175 for general admission and $150 for Deering Estate Foundation Members. Learn more at


It’s that time of year for craft fairs, pumpkin patches, bazaars and other community fundraisers. Neighbors will publish its annual guide to events and gatherings in Miami-Dade County on Oct. 23.

To be included in the list, send information with event dates, times, addresses, and any admission costs, by Oct. 10 to Be sure to list details about the kinds of items and food that will be for sale as well as planned music and children’s activities.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at