Key Biscayne

Key Biscayne Women’s Giving Circle honoring local nonprofits

The women of the Key Biscayne Women’s Giving Circle wanted to do something to help women and children in the community, but they didn’t know where to begin.

“We didn’t know what we were doing or what we wanted to do,” said Harriett Stein, co-founder of the Key Biscayne Women’s Giving Circle. “We just knew we wanted to do something.”

When the giving circle began in 2008, it raised about $5,000 for Casa Valentina, an organization that helps young women who have aged out of foster care. Seven years later, the circle has raised four times that amount and is helping five organizations.

Stein and Marilyn Levin, another co-founder of the giving circle, are snowbirds from Baltimore. They are both involved in philanthropic efforts up north and wanted to do something in South Florida even though they don’t live in Key Biscayne full-time.

“How much bridge and golf can you do?” Stein said. “Even if you only live here for three or four months, you’re part of this community and it’s important to give back.”

The Key Biscayne Women’s Giving Circle gives grants to organizations that help women and children in Miami-Dade County. The circle works a bit differently than other funding organizations. The organization does not give money. They ask the organizations they want to fund for a wishlist, and the circle provides what it can.

“We don’t want any of the money going toward administrative costs,” Stein said.

The giving circle does not fundraise throughout the year, either. Their annual grant ceremony, during which they honor local nonprofits for their work in helping disadvantaged women and children, is the sole fundraiser. All ticket sales go toward purchasing the items on the nonprofits’ wishlists.

“You really get to see where your money is going,” Levin said. “A small amount of money can make a big difference.”

The nine women on the giving circle’s committee partner with the Key Biscayne Community Foundation to put the grant ceremony together in nine weeks.

“What’s special about this is that it gives people the ability to get involved in philanthropy and make a charitable impact,” Melissa McCaughan White, executive director of the community foundation, said. “But by doing it together, the impact is greater.”

Levin remembers one of last year’s giving circle recipients. The circle provided art supplies for Rise Up, a gallery that exhibits the works of artists with disabilities.

“To see what those artists do without arms and how they’re painting and creating, it just broke my heart,” she said. It’s so inspirational.”

This year’s grant ceremony takes place Thursday, Feb. 26, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ocean Club.

The following organizations will be honored at this year’s grant ceremony:

▪ Lotus House, a homeless shelter that teaches life skills, offers support to new mothers and provides health and wellness services to women and children.

▪ Miami Children’s Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming Liberty City by investing in children and families.

▪ enFAMiLIA, an organization that offers relationship-building programs for families and couples and educational programs for kids.

▪ Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, a nonprofit dedicated to environmental conservation and introducing underprivileged children to nature.

▪ Miami Choral Academy, a tuition-free after-school program serving elementary and middle school students in low-income communities.

If you go

▪ What: Key Biscayne Women’s Giving Circle grant ceremony

▪ Where: The Ocean Club, Palm Court restaurant, 795 Crandon Blvd.

▪ When: 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26

▪ Cost: $150

▪ For tickets, visit