Palm Beach is one of the most philanthropic communities in the country. Generous, supportive and hardworking, Palm Beach philanthropists are passionate about their causes. Recently, we caught up with several of them who are speaking up and out about their current projects.
Ashley Brown holds the Selfless Love Foundation near to her heart.
How did you get involved in your charity? As a byproduct of adoption, I’ve always felt like I was given a second chance at life. I always knew I’d pay back my blessing by helping children in foster care. When my husband and I were getting married, I set up the Selfless Love Foundation to start that dream.
Why did you get involved in this charity? We believe that all children need and deserve a family. Our desire is not just to help a handful of children, but to create a lasting impact on the foster care system for generations to come.
Why is it important for you to champion the cause? My husband and I do not have children of our own, but, through the Selfless Love Foundation, we have a family that fills our hearts. When a youth calls to connect with someone who cares about them, I know we have made a difference.
Why is Palm Beach a great community for your charity? Palm Beach County is such a wonderful community of philanthropic individuals with a genuine interest in helping others. It’s selfless individuals and businesses that keep us inspired. With Selfless Love Foundation’s adoption and transitioning youth initiatives making a statewide impact in Florida, we dream of replicating that success across the nation. Selfless Love Foundation’s 2020 event will be held April 18 at The Breakers Palm Beach.
Susan Cushing is working to put an end to the cycle of poverty with The GOAL project.
How did you get involved in your charity? I founded The GOAL Project based on a conversation I had with Michael Bloomberg and an initiative he headed in New York City to encourage teens to wait to have children. In order to change the conversation about poverty, we need to focus on children not being born into poverty. We cannot claim to be the wealthiest country in the world while roughly 300,000 children are born each year into poverty and to teen moms.
Why did you get involved in the charity? After volunteering for 10 years in homeless shelters, several of the teenage women I had mentored had great promise but became pregnant and had to put their dreams on hold. The GOAL Project instills confidence and self-esteem through field trips to organizations and institutions throughout New York City showing the girls all aspects of life. We hold workshops that deal with financial literacy, job interviews, how to dress and business etiquette to follow.
Why is it important for you to champion the cause? I have decided that it’s important to make sure that what you do matters. I always get so much more back than I give when I am doing something that matters.
Why is Palm Beach a great community for your charity? The GOAL Project, has been operating in Harlem, and, now, the second will be Palm Beach County. Palm Beach County is one of the poorest counties in the country and has an incredible Junior League whom we partner with, as well as the Boys & Girls Clubs. We hope we can begin to make a difference nationally.
Palm Beach Symphony CEO David McClymont runs to increase awareness for the performing arts with Miles for Music.
How did you get involved in this charity? I wanted to increase awareness about the performing arts and classical music. The Ironman Florida, which is a series of long distance triathlon races, will help to create awareness about arts. With the community’s generous support, Miles for Music can successfully showcase the importance of music in Palm Beach County.
Why did you get involved in this charity? As CEO of the Palm Beach Symphony, Miles for Music will further promote the importance of music education for students and preserve classical music in Palm Beach County for many years to come. Through our supportive contributors and sponsors for the symphony and this race, we are able to help local students like Gabriel, a high school music student, replace his electric-acoustic guitar he had lost during the Hurricane Maria.
Why is it important for you to champion this cause? As we celebrate our 46th anniversary at the symphony, we are continuously challenging ourselves to make more of an impact in our community. The Palm Beach Symphony enriches the lives of thousands of individuals through our world-class concerts, our expansive community outreach, educational initiatives and our dynamic social events.
Why is Palm Beach a great community for your charity? Palm Beach is a culturally rich and diverse community, and we are proud to be one of its cultural pillars. From New York to Los Angeles to Chicago, every great city has a great symphony, and Palm Beach is no different.
Michelle Mason Otremba
Michelle Mason Otremba Co-Chairs This Year’s Gala FOR the Junior League of The Palm Beaches.
How did you get in involved in your charity? After relocating to South Florida from New York, I wanted to meet people, but also find a way to be involved in my community. My volunteerism in New York was geared toward my children’s schools and the New York Preservation Society, along with many AIDS charities, through my work in the fashion industry.
Why did you get involved in this charity? The mission of the Junior League of the Palm Beaches is committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through effective action and leadership. I believe in all of those touch points.
Why is it important for you to champion these causes? I grew up in suburban Detroit, and my parents always supported caring for and adopting abandoned pets, sharing our home with less fortunate friends, and raising money through our church and schools.
Why is Palm Beach a great community for your charity? Palm Beachers are eager to get involved, and, this year, at our inaugural gala Into the Wild, we will raise essential funds for our vital community programs that are focused on improving the lives of children in Palm Beach County.
David and Jill Gilmour
David and jill Gilmour address the cycle of poverty at the Erin H. Gilmour Early Learning Center in Westgate, West Palm Beach.
How did you get involved in this charity? We realized the need for early preschool education after discovering Palm Beach County has 65 criminal gangs and an exponentially increasing crime rate, drugs, violence and poverty.
Why did you get involved in this charity? Our involvement was very personal after our daughter was murdered by an uneducated drug addict.
Why is it important for you to champion the cause? No one was addressing the problem with enough effort and investment to enhance and make a difference big enough to solve the problem.
Why is Palm Beach a great community for your charity? Palm Beach is the most generous community in America, but after living here for over 10 years, we discovered that just 2 miles from our home, there existed a critical situation. We have pledged $10 million, which is 20% of the endowment required for this school to operate in perpetuity.
Photography by: Nick Mele