Paying It Forward – Donna Doscher
“Empathy is the most important part of giving back — you never know the struggles someone is dealing with and what they are going through.”
For Donna Doscher, having a personal connection to the causes she cares about is the most important aspect of giving. Moving to Key Biscayne from NYC 2.5 years ago, she’s already left a lasting impact on the community. “I truly believe God brought me to this magical, sunny, spicy and absolutely stunning location and I’m thankful every day that my family is here,” she says. Most recently, she started a GoFundMe for a friend on the island who lost her home and everything she owned in a terrible fire. “The mission of the effort is to help her rebuild after suffering extreme loss — I knew I couldn’t just sit back and watch her young family suffer,” she says. “The outpouring of support for the cause showed my friend that the strength and support of the community is far stronger than any fire — it was the first step she needed to get back on her feet!” Doscher is also actively involved in local and national causes including The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Best Buddies, St. Agnes, The Wounded Warriors, Folds of Honor and the Key Biscayne Community Foundation, where she volunteers for the “Adopt A Senior” program. “Empathy is the most important part of giving back — you never know the struggles someone is dealing with and what they are going through.,” she says. “Start small, but most importantly, start somewhere — it’s all about doing your part and using your blessings to help others at every opportunity”; @DonnaDoscher.
Guiding Light – Tony Goudie
“I believe we’re all given seeds to plant, whether it be words of kindness or acts of love, we all have a major influence on the lives of others.”
Tony Goudie believes that we don’t give and serve others because we have to, we do it because we get to. “God placed within me a heart for others,” he says. “To serve and stand in the gap whenever possible is not just my pleasure but my privilege.” The beloved Youth Pastor & Coach regularly gives back to not only the Key Biscayne Community Church, but to Glory House, His House, Operation Christmas Child, The Chief Press Foundation, Teen Talks w/ Fire Chief Eric Lang and fundraisers for various causes. “I believe we’re all given seeds to plant, whether it be words of kindness or acts of love, we all have a major influence on the lives of others,” he says. “The great part is that many times we will be oblivious to the impact we’ve had, and I believe that’s how God intends it to be.” Goudie says that giving is how we were created to live and he is eternally grateful for all the blessings in his life. “Key Biscayne has given me so much, there are way too many people, families and children to be thankful for,” he says. “I’ve never thought about my giving as a way to put a feather in my cap, on the contrary, I’ve always desired to give back so much that I used to mistake it for selfishness. My sincere prayer is that this island we call home, this slice of paradise we get to live in, be a place for the world to see. A place where we care for one another and where we all do our part to help those around us. That we embrace this truth, that it takes a village — because it does. We were created to be in community!”; KBCommunityChurch.org.
Shore Savior – Manny Rionda
“Performing a simple act of eco-activism often leads to lifestyle awareness and changes in behavior — reusing, reducing, refilling and refusing single use plastic.”
Manny Rionda was born in Connecticut and began coming to Key Biscayne in 1971 as a toddler to visit family, before moving to the island in 1978. “My love for the ocean began while growing up in Key Biscayne, where carefree days were spent outside from dawn to dusk — riding bikes, discovering fishing holes, building forts in the mangroves, diving local reefs, and launching from rope swings into the waters around our island paradise.” In 2016, he and his best friend Nancy Levitt Davis had an idea to encourage more people to adopt their habit of picking up marine debris and beach litter during daily walks. Two years later, they entered The Miami Foundation’s Public Space Challenge, submitting the idea for Fill A Bag. They won a small grant, initially intended to activate five Fill A Bag Stations in the first year. The interest has been remarkable. “To date, we’ve launched over 30 stations along Florida’s coastline, as well as one in Cape Cod,” he says. Future plans on the horizon include international Fill A Bag stations in Malta, the Gili Islands, and the Philippines. “Set up at beach access paths, our distinguishable white wooden posts with aqua blue signs hold reusable bags and buckets, empowering individuals to turn ordinary beach strolls into meaningful clean-ups,” he says. “Performing a simple act of eco-activism often leads to lifestyle awareness and changes in behavior — reusing, reducing, refilling and refusing single use plastic.” Most recently, through a partnership with the Key Biscayne Community Foundation, Fill A Bag has organized and facilitated over 25 eco-conscious “pod clean-up” activities for local area groups including students, businesses, social clubs, active seniors, athletic teams and more. “Who’s in your pod?,” concludes Rionda. “Log off of Zoom, round up your crew, let’s get outside and go fill a bag!”; @FillABag.
Dog Devotion – Sonja Craythorne
“When it comes to tapping into your giving spirit, every effort is rewarding and everyone can help make a difference.”
Spending her time between Key Biscayne and Colorado, West Virginia native Sonja Craythorne has lived in Miami since 1974. After a successful career at the University of Miami Medical Center, she began working with Born Free Pet Shelter in 2004. “I started by volunteering to show dogs at pet shops, and as I got more involved, I realized they needed help in all aspects, including administration, volunteer recruitment, shelter maintenance, fundraising, dog care and finding new permanent and foster homes,” she says. For years, she volunteered 30-40 hours a week. “I became the queen of garage sales — everyone brought me donations, and when I accumulated enough, I would sell the items with all proceeds going to the shelter,” she says. “We also organized holiday events and an annual dinner & dance, gradually recruiting a permanent group of dedicated volunteers.” After nearly 17 years with the organization, one of her fondest memories involves a dog named Max. “He was turned over to us during the 2008 mortgage meltdown when his owners lost their home and couldn’t keep him,” she says. “I knew he didn’t belong in a shelter, so I fostered him until we could find a new owner.” Eventually, a loving older couple adopted him, and when the wife became ill with dementia, Max stayed by her side 24 hours a day until she died. He then became the husband’s best friend until Max himself passed away. “It gave me great satisfaction to know Max spent his final days living in a loving home,” she says. She concludes with inspirational words of wisdom. “Giving back for me is living my life in a compassionate and grateful way, and creating an air of caring, so that people feel comfortable asking for help,” she says. “When it comes to tapping into your giving spirit, every effort is rewarding and everyone can help make a difference.”; BornFreeShelter.org.