Community Voices

Friends and Neighbors: PATCHES, a group for children with medical needs, holds Doral gala

The inaugural gala for PATCHES raised $90,000 to help sick children. From left, are founder Kyle Smith, Gala Committee Chairwoman Maria Luisa Gonzalez Silva and founder Joanie Ippolito.
The inaugural gala for PATCHES raised $90,000 to help sick children. From left, are founder Kyle Smith, Gala Committee Chairwoman Maria Luisa Gonzalez Silva and founder Joanie Ippolito.

Helping to meet the needs of children with medically complex issues is the mission of PATCHES, a group that recently received much-needed support from more than 400 attendees at its inaugural gala, WILD for PATCHES, at Trump National Doral Miami.

In addition to raising funds, guests at the celebration honored three individuals for their help over the years. Homestead Hospital CEO Bill Duquette, Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and publicist Bob Levy of Robert M. Levy & Associates each were recognized for their “dedication, love and support to the mission of PATCHES.”

The name stands for Pediatric Alternative Treatment, Care, Housing & Evaluation Services. Founders Joanie Ippolito and Kyle Smith called the honorees a “saving force who were instrumental in helping to move the PATCHES mission forward to provide nursing care and therapies to children with complex medical conditions.”

Maria Luisa Gonzalez Silva was gala chairwoman. She and her team of volunteers, along with Patty Holland of Tiger Productions, put together an event that delighted all.

Zoo Miami’s Ron Magill served as master of ceremonies and gave guests the chance to take photos with his pet owl, Preston, whom he has raised from an owlet.

A surprise guest appearance by award-winning jazz singer Nicole Henry kicked off the evening’s entertainment.

The first WILD For PATCHES gala raised $90,000 and donations are still coming in for the future growth and development of the nursing centers located in Florida City and Fort Pierce.

For more about the gala and how to donate visit or call 305-242-8122.


If you have a loved one who has died too soon you can remember them at the annual Candle Lighting of The Compassionate Friends at 6 p.m., Dec. 14, at the Miami Dade County Fair & Expo Center in the Goode Building, 10901 Coral Way.

At the event, you can light a candle in memory of your child, grandchild or sibling. There also will be music and special readings, and a reception will follow the ceremony.

The Compassionate Friends local chapter is hosting the event that is one of many Worldwide Candle Lighting ceremonies of support for families in time of grief. The group’s mission: “Light a candle for all children who have died that their light may always shine.”

Jerry and Jill Flingos have attended gatherings of The Compassionate Friends since their 23-year-old daughter, Pamela, died in 2012.

“The monthly meetings of The Compassionate Friends fill a void that nothing else can fill, because no one else really understands,” Jill Flingos said in email. “It’s the one place where we can take off the masks that we wear every day as we live in the civilian world of people who have not suffered the death of a child.

“We can just be ourselves and share how we really feel and what we are really thinking, which varies from day to day, as grief is one big non-stop roller-coaster ride…and like all rides, eventually, one wants to get off, but we can’t. So this group has become an essential part of our existence, and I highly recommend it to anyone grieving the death of a child or sibling,” she said.

There is no charge for the Candle Lighting ceremony although donations are accepted. Guests will have opportunities to talk with other families dealing with the death of a child of any age. Guests are welcome to bring a standing framed photo, no larger than 8x10, of their child, grandchild or sibling for the Memorial Table. They will take their photo home at the end of the evening.

Call 305-460-5762 to learn more, and visit for additional support information.


The holidays should be a time of joy, but for many it is a difficult time. Brockway Memorial Library will offer a free program, “Coping With Grief During the Holidays,” hosted by therapist Patricia Stauber at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at 10021 NE Second Ave., in Miami Shores.

The library also will hold a two-part lecture series, “Ethics as Philosophy,” Jan. 27, and “Ethics as Technology,” Jan 29, with returning speaker Mehdi Ashraf. Both talks start at 6:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Registration is appreciated. Call 305-758-8107.

Brockway Memorial Library in Miami Shores Village is a community-gathering place filled with comfy chairs for reading, and rows and rows of books — rare, out-of-print, and new. The librarians are happy to help you find a book. They will even order that bestseller you want to read.

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