Power Of Giving

When it comes to donating time, talent and treasure, Key Biscayners always make philanthropy a priority. Meet a few of the island’s inspirational Angels Among Us, who are making an impact and setting an example for generations to come.
Words by Jorge Arauz | Photos by Edward Leal | March 28, 2023 | People

Island Inspiration

A restaurateur and real estate investor originally from Poland, Wioletta Zywina always dreamed of calling Key Biscayne home. About a year ago, she started a Restaurant Club with a few of her friends on the island with the idea of exploring the culinary scene around Miami every few weeks. Since then, the modest group of 6 has grown into 180+ amazing women. Food and philanthropy unites them. Among recent fundraising highlights, they gathered $80,000 and countless urgent supplies for families of the Ukraine/Russia war; raised $50,000 in less than 45 minutes for KBPS’s “Work Of Heart” initiative; purchased toys to bring smiles to more than 180 children at Lotus House; collected money and clothes for victims of the earthquake in Turkey; and funded immediate life-saving assistance for the many homeless dogs on the island to get medical help, food and housing until they find a forever home. “It takes a lot of work and effort to help others — it requires a lot of time and attention, but the rewards are priceless,” she says. “I want to believe that my children will be better kids because of all the philanthropic work I do — I try to get them involved as much as possible in the hopes that one day they, too, will give back to others and help make the world a more loving place.”

Others First

In December of 2015, Narciso Muñoz and a close-knit group of friends from Key Biscayne came together to help the unsheltered population in Miami. What started out as delivering warm meals to create a connection and open up a conversation, turned into a mission to help the homeless reconnect with society. As they started identifying needs beyond food and nourishment, the volunteers began seeking out resources to assist these individuals with detoxing and rehabilitation. They also helped reunite them with family and provided housing, immigration aid and legal help for those who needed a nudge in the right direction. Hermanos De La Calle was born to guide homeless individuals and re-integrate them into contributing and dignified members of society. “We provide safe housing, mental and emotional support, access to healthcare, legal services and employment opportunities for all those who benefit through our programs,” says Muñoz, who serves as President. “Above all, we always aim for reconnecting them to family and faith.”;

Changing Lives

As the Executive Director for Fundacion Manos Del Sur, Paulina Montes raises funds to improve the lives of underprivileged children in Latin America through educational, nutritional and health programs. “We have changed so many lives throughout the years, including students who have gone on to successful careers; a mother whose life we saved through a health screening; and children we helped see a movie for the first time or swim in the ocean,” she says. “There are lots of little (and not so little!) joys and accomplishments.” To those looking to get involved, she suggests to start small. “Find one other person who shares you interests and do something — don’t get frustrated if you cannot change the world,” she says. “You don’t have to go out of your way to help — you can do it from where you are, applying what you know and what you love to help make a difference.”;