Miami, FL – Be Strong International was honored with a proclamation from the Village of Palmetto Bay on Tuesday after providing school supplies and other household items to needy families during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused a loss of job and income nationwide.
Mayor of Village of Palmetto Bay, Karyn Cunningham, presented Be Strong with an official proclamation on September 14, 2020, for its school supply and food drive-thru distribution last month. With help from local and state government officials, the Children’s Trust, and the Miami Dolphins, Be Strong staff personally packed and provided food boxes alongside supply-filled bookbags to more than 200 families on August 14th.
The “Be Strong Day Back-to-School Drive-Thru Distribution” was the first school supply distribution in the Palmetto Bay area, as well as for the 25-year-old organization itself. Traditionally BSI hosts “Be Strong Day” as an annual outdoor recreational event, but this year, the pandemic shifted those plans and local families’ lives, especially as students were heading back to school.
“Given the circumstances,” said BSI Executive Director Michelle Shirley, “Be Strong Day became an opportunity to support the community in a most necessary way: helping youth and parents directly.”
The proclamation ceremony, which began at 6:30, was hosted virtually and included citizens of Palmetto Bay along with council members. Mayor Cunningham has expressed her commitment to supporting such efforts. She said, “We are pleased to be part of this back-to-school event and will continue to support Be Strong in helping families in every way we can during this time.”
Be Strong will host its next community distribution on Friday, November 20th, from 10 a.m. to noon, at which time they will be giving out food boxes for Thanksgiving. Details will be announced on the organization’s website www.bestrongintl.org and social media as the date approaches.
Miami, FL – Randa Porter, whose son Kai Jones attends Richmond Middle School, was among the line of parents who attended the Be Strong Day Back-to-School Drive-Thru Distribution event on Friday, picking up donated school supplies for the upcoming school year.
“I just would like to thank Be Strong International and the Village of Palmetto Bay for this event,” Porter told volunteers. “Although it's the pandemic, it's a positive thing, and it really helps out the kids before they go back to school. Thank you!"
Be Strong International (BSI), joined by the City of Palmetto Bay, distributed school supplies and food at the Palmetto Bay Village Hall to needy families on Friday, August 21, 2020. By the end of the event, all 250 bookbags filled with supplies were successfully given to families, along with over 200 food boxes.
Veronica Brown, another parent, also shared how much she appreciated the assistance with supplies for her children. "Listen, this is a great thing that you guys are doing. This is amazing!" she said.
Aiding in the distribution were several community leaders: Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava; President of The Children’s Trust James R. Haj; State Representative Vance Aloupis; Mayor Karyn Cunningham; members of the Rotary Club of Perrine-Cutler Ridge/Palmetto Bay; Andrea Tovar; the Miami Dolphins; and BSI board member Franccesca Cesti-Browne. They all greeted families and packed their cars with supplies in the 91-degree weather.
“We are proud to have you as a part of our village family. Thank you for all you do,” said Mayor Karyn Cunningham of the Village of Palmetto Bay.
Although Be Strong Day is traditionally a yearly outdoor recreational event for youth, this year due to COVID-19 pandemic, it took shape in the form of a school supply drive-thru distribution event. Parents from Palmetto Bay and surrounding areas were able to register on Eventbrite to secure bookbags for their children. The bookbags contained supplies including notebooks, stationery, paper, binders, and face masks.
After receiving the bookbags in their vehicle’s trunk, parents would then drive forward to the food distribution station, where community leaders and BSI staff deposited the food boxes alongside the bookbags. Families who were not able to receive a bookbag, received a $10 gift card per child to use for school supplies. Not one book bag or food box remained by the end of the event.
All supplies and food distributed were donated by Be Strong Day co-sponsors: TD Bank, American Black, PepsiCo, The Children's Trust, VOSS, the Rotary Club of Perrine-Cutler Ridge/Palmetto Bay, Miami Children's Health Plan, Fairlife, Five Below, Palmetto Bay Dentistry, American Black, South Motors, and Miami Dolphins Football Unites.
Be Strong will host its next community distribution on November 20th, at which time they will be giving out food to be eaten for Thanksgiving. The location is still tentative, but all the details will be posted on the organization’s website www.bestrongintl.org as the date approaches.
About Be Strong International
Be Strong International is a leading non-profit that educates young people and parents through positive practices. For more than a quarter-century, they have provided teens and young adults in South Florida with tools to make better decisions about relationships, money, work, and family life. The organization uses an evidence-based curriculum to teach adolescents and parents about strategies for building healthy relationships. Be Strong International was nominated for best practices in addressing risky behaviors, and they deliver educational programming to students and parents online, and in-person throughout Miami-Dade and Broward County.