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.
The Big Heart Paddle challenges philanthropic paddleboarders with 3- and 5-mile races, the proceeds of which benefit Bravery Beads, an organization dedicated to serving children with cancer. A sprawling 3-mile course welcomes any type of standup board, which racers steer through the water using standard paddles or inflatable pool noodles. The competitive 5-mile race allows only 12.5-inch stock boards, supplying loaners to those who need them, and putting entrants of all experience levels on an even playing field in order to show off refined paddling techniques or the ability to leap from board to dolphin back. Kicking off with a prerace coffee and breakfast, the event extends into a party, boasting an array of energy boosters such as a DJ, photo booth, and free beer, with event sponsors including Kona Brewery, Fratelli La Bufala, Lime Fresh Mexican, Zico, and more. All participants and spectators can attend, taking the opportunity to witness the Most Stylish Paddle award and to swap anecdotes about besting Poseidon.