MIAMI - Thursday is Give Miami Day, a time to donate money to your favorite South Florida community organizations.
The team at the Miami Foundation is celebrating Give Miami Day with music, balloons, and, hopefully, lots of money for local non-profits.
"Give Miami Day is the most important day of generosity in Miami all year round. It's very expensive to throw a fundraiser. We have over a thousand non-profit organizations who need resources at the end of the year to set themselves up for another year of doing the important work that they do," said Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, President and CEO of the Miami Foundation.
One such group is making Miami Proud. Opa-locka based Re-entry One is an organization that assists people returning home from incarceration. Founder and Executive Director Giovanni Sairras said the work is simple but powerful.
"We provide our program participants with clothing, food, hygiene products, access to free healthcare for an entire year, communication devices so they can stay connected to family, and supervising officers if need be. We also assist them with employment," said Sairras.
"It means a lot. It's very helpful on my journey. It helped me with a job, helped me with stuff like this, a place to stay. I'm very appreciative," said Deron Tigget.
For Sairras, the mission is personal.
"I served 17 years in the Florida prison system following a drug trafficking charge. I just want to give back to the community. While I was incarcerated a couple of years ago, I was just released from incarceration three years ago, while I was inside of the system, I realized a lot of guys coming in and out of the system had the same story, and that was a lack of resources in the community," he said.
Sairras said he knows his earlier mistakes impacted the community as a whole and that's why he's using his second chance to give back, a perfect fit for Give Miami Day.
"We want to live in a community where people care about each other and give back. This institution is all about helping people find the things they care about in the community and ownership for the future of Miami," said Fishman Lipsey.
"The funds that we raise through Give Miami Day is what supports our cause. Without it, I don't think we'll be able to last much longer," said Sairras.
He added that without donations, much of the help he provides comes out of his own pocket
Since 2012, Give Miami Day has raised $145 million in funding for over one thousand non-profits.
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