Writing has always been one of my preferred methods of self-therapy. I feel like it comes somewhat easy to me, and very few things outside of writing do as good of a job at releasing those thoughts or emotions that may be weighing heavily on my mind.
So, with that said, allow me to be frank for a moment…
With July 4th approaching, my first thought was to write about something relative to holiday sales. Maybe another “top 5” list about your digital marketing… or even a wordplay on “Independence” Day, and how we help our “Independent” retailers grow their business…
…but that would’ve been too easy.
And since we’re being frank, it would’ve been a little corny as well. I had something else on my mind, and although I wasn’t quite sure what that was at first, I knew this wasn’t it.
I started to dig deep… What’s been weighing on me recently? And then it hit me… I highlighted my entire word document and pressed delete.
Here it is…
I’m a Miami boy, tried and true. I grew up on the Southwest side of the Magic City… Westchester, to be exact. Not quite the scenic postcard that might come to mind – but it’s what I call home, and home is always where the heart is. A busy suburb about 12 miles from the heart of the city… Far from its bright lights, but close enough to feel its heartbeat.
On June 24th, 2021, at approximately 1:30 am, my city’s heartbeat stopped. A tragedy had occurred in another suburb, also located about 12 miles from the city. 55 of the 136 units at Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condo in Surfside, collapsed.
“Tragedy” doesn’t quite describe what occurred that night, if any words do. As I write this, there have been officially 18 confirmed deaths, meanwhile, 145 people are still unaccounted for. Further rescue missions have been paused at the moment due to concerns around the remaining 81-unit structure and fears of another collapse.
In a matter of seconds, people’s homes turned to rubble and dust. Over 150 beautiful souls disappeared into the night. I had the pleasure of meeting one of them early on in my career with Bottom Line, as I’m sure many of you reading this have met her too. Her name is Estelle Hedaya, and she is one of the 145 people still unaccounted for. Truth be told, there are people in my organization that were closer to Estelle than me, and thus would be more qualified to write about her… Even so, I’d be remiss to not take the time to give both her and this subject attention, being almost exactly 1 week to the day as I’m writing this. I didn’t have one bad memory of Estelle – always welcoming, loving and the life of the party. She showed leadership and confidence as a beloved member of the jewelry industry, a familiar face from both the Continental Buying Group and Preferred Jewelers International. Estelle, like many other beautiful souls, left behind many loved ones that night. May Estelle and the rest of the victims, and their families, find the peace and courage they need in these trying times. My prayers and sincerest condolences go out to you. To the beautiful souls that have left this earth – as we say in Spanish – Vaya con Dios. Go with God.
I’d like to end this blog with an action.
In times like these, society tends to show us both its good and bad sides. Although there has been an outpour of support for the victims and their families, there are also frauds and scammers that come out of the woodworks to capitalize on people’s generosity. I wanted to make this blog have a bigger purpose than most… I wanted to spread the word on how we can all help, both locally and from afar, by providing some legitimate sources for local charities and donations that will go directly to the victims and their families. These sources have been approved as legitimate charity and fundraiser initiatives and were taken directly from a local news outlet’s website (see HERE and HERE for original articles).
Please see below to find out how you can help those directly affected by the Surfside Collapse:
Donate to The Surfside Hardship Fund:
The Coral Gables Community Foundation, The Key Biscayne Community Foundation, The Knight Foundation, The Miami Foundation, Miami HEAT, and Miami HEAT Charitable Fund are standing together to build a hardship fund for those impacted. They are asking Miami-Dade County residents to contribute to The Surfside Hardship Fund. Donors can use PayPal or credit cards. Here is the page.
Donate to The Greater Miami Jewish Federation:
They have established an emergency fund for short-term and long-term needs. The federation is accepting checks with the notation Surfside Building Collapse at 4200 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33137. They are also accepting donations via credit card. For more information about the fund, call 305-576-4000 or visit this page.
Donate to The Shul of Bal Harbour:
They are accepting donations for those impacted by the collapse. To donate visit www.theshul.org/8777.
Donate to The Miami Heat Charitable Fund:
They are working with the humanitarian organization Direct Relief and raising funds to help survivors and first responders. Here is the page.
Donate to one of GoFundMe’s Verified GoFundMe Pages:
GoFundMe has launched a centralized hub identifying all verified fundraisers. Here is the page.
Donate to Operation Helping Hands:
Operation Helping Hands, a partnership between United Way of Miami-Dade and the Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald, is assisting with relief efforts. Here’s how to support and assist families with their short-term and long-term recovery needs: Operation Helping Hands donation link. VolunteerMiami volunteer link.
Donate to Global Empowerment Mission:
Michael Capponi’s organization, Global Empowerment Mission, has set up a Champlain Tower Residents Fund. Packing begins at 11:00 a.m. To donate, click here.