While Feeding South Florida's (FSF) mission is simple?to end hunger in South Florida?the steps it takes to achieve this goal are anything but. The organization, which is part of the Feeding America network, leads hunger and poverty advocacy efforts and partners with approximately 350 non-profit agencies to provide nutritious meals to people in need. As the largest food bank in Florida?and the sole food bank for Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties?FSF serves nearly 1,000,000 individuals. One of FSF's distribution programs is the Mobile Food Pantry, which brings fresh fruits, vegetables, bread, and dairy to food deserts in South Florida. In the past year alone, FSF distributed approximately 35 million pounds of food to people in need.
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The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the cha-cha. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba.
Founded in 1972 as a gymnastics club, TWIGS Kids now resides in a sprawling 20,000-square-foot facility staffed by enthused staffers. The gym’s name, which stands for True Winners in God’s Service, reflects its mission of providing gymnastics, swimming, and cheer activities and instruction for kids ages 3–18 in a Christian environment. Cheer and gymnastics lessons simultaneously bolster students’ flexibility, coordination, confidence, and ability to best invisible friends in monkey-bar competitions. Amid the heated waters of Dolphin Cove, teachers and pupils soak their feet while lifting floating barbells and riding noodle floats during swimming lessons. An in-house café welcomes visitors to recharge their empty fuel tanks with refreshing snacks, while a gift shop displays colorful gym attire from designers including GK Elite Sportswear and Melody Leotards.
In 1980, Harry and Darlene Kelton moved their houseboat to the Pelican Harbor Marina and discovered an injured brown pelican. Without the aid of animal-care experience, they removed a fishhook from his mouth and rehabilitated him. This led them to form the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in their shed. With the help of volunteers and trained staff, the seabird station rescues, treats, and rehabilitates sick and injured wildlife, and promotes their preservation with educational programs and research efforts. The center specializes in brown pelicans, most of which are entangled in fishing tackle, but will treat any animal brought in for care. In 2007, they treated 87 bird species and 39 mammals, nonmigratory birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Since 1989, The Miami Symphony Orchestra has mimicked Miami’s cultural diversity with concerts and events that act as a melting pot of musical influences. Music director Eduardo Marturet, a Venezuelan composer and conductor, helms many of the concerts, encouraging the musicians to unleash their inner Beethovens or Bachs—former members of the ’80s hair-metal band Skid Row.
As a young girl, Monica Castillo was walking home when she realized she was being followed by a neighborhood cat, which then waited outside her house until she reemerged. The cat, a feral stray, allowed her to pet him, and eventually, adopt him. Monica?s mother, Francie, recounts this tale often, claiming that after this experience, Monica declared emphatically that she wanted to be a "doggy doctor," and never strayed from that path. After immersing herself in volunteer work, Monica attended school to become veterinary tech, a title she has held for the past four-and-a-half years. In 2011, the mother-daughter team opened Pepe Le Pooche Resort & Spa to better prepare Monica for her continuing education in veterinary school and to care for animals with kind attention and respect for their needs.
"Dogs know when they are being treated well," says Francie. To this end, she surrounds herself with staff members who were raised by animals or just have an affinity for them. Le Salon & Spa at Pepe Le Pooche hosts a crew of groomers who all hold certifications and have experience working around the particulars of different breeds, such as which prefer the scissors over a comb and which relish well-groomed mohawks and hair dye, upon request.
Pepe Le Pooche's onsite boarding and daycare facilities are cage-free, meaning dogs have free rein of play areas for most of the day, and hunker down in 1 of 10 large suites at night. Staff members stay on watch around the clock to ensure pets? safety and play classical music to keep them calm. The resort does not have the capacity to board felines, but they are welcome to stay for daycare. The crew also plans all aspects of dog parties, from procuring the cake to hosting a blowout bash complete with party favors.