Miami Moms for Ecuador reach out to help others

Never underestimate the global reach of Miami moms. The moment news of April’s magnitude 7.8 quake in Ecuador broke, local moms and their families leaped into action.

Civically-active Pinecrest mom Anna Hochkammer explained, “I have an Ecuadorian husband and three Ecuadorian daughters who are very involved in our community. On the day after the earthquake, my kids were already mobilizing an effort in their school.”

As the effort snowballed, Anna learned there were tons of Ecuadorian-Americans out there ready to help and the greater Miami community also rallied around the cause. Anna was a friend with Laura Munilla, a fellow Pinecrest resident, mother of six and native of Ecuador.

“After we mobilized our original network of Pinecrest and Palmetto Bay moms and filled 11 pallets of humanitarian aid from a garage-level effort, we said what else can we do?” Munilla said. “Who else can we call?”

They called and tapped into an impressive line-up of people and organizations. Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho involved all of Miami-Dade County’s public schools, by creating a drive and drop off points for two weeks (May 8-20). Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez got Ryder Systems to donate trucks and logistics assistance. The Ecuadorian consulate joined and created plans to catalog, permit and transport the supplies to Ecuador.

And so, on the day before Mother’s Day, at Royal Flowers in Doral, the Miami Moms for Ecuador kicked into high gear with a press conference and a tour of the warehouse space they had filled with donated supplies.

Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho summed up the effort best by saying, “I am only a school superintendent, but I recognize we are all children of one god and a global family. When in need, this is what we do.”

Miami Moms for Ecuador, along with so many amazing organizations, are now organizing transport of 12 full planes of aid to be delivered around the first week of June. And they are not done. With the hearts and minds captured by this project, they are vowing to become a lasting resource to Ecuador’s rebuilding process.

Hochkammer concluded, “Their infrastructure is broken, the hygiene systems are broken and many are displaced. We want to be there to see things fixed and we’ve got an amazing amount of local support to help Ecuador long-term.”

You can get involved at

Palmetto Bay Partnership
Ever since Palmetto Bay incorporated in 2002, it has been the dream of some to create a thriving Downtown District for residents to enjoy. The Downtown would also bolster the Village tax base and provide a local destination for food, shopping and entertainment.

Beginning about three years ago, and building on already completed infrastructure work in the Franjo Triangle, the Village formed the Downtown Redevelopment Task Force (DRTF). The DRTF consisted of 40 civically active people who came from all walks of life to discuss and vision what Downtown Palmetto Bay should be. After two years of work, the DRTF wound down operations so that the next stage of thought process could take shape.

Early in 2016, the Village Council created and appointed a representative 13-member advisory committee called the Palmetto Bay Partnership Advisory Board. Its mission is to assist the Village in maximizing its economic and social potential. While most of the focus is on the development of Downtown, the Partnership looks at the whole Village picture.

Meeting monthly and operating under Florida’s Sunshine Laws, the Partnership welcomes public comments and expressly welcomes anyone from Palmetto Bay or neighboring areas to voice their ideas, businesses included.

Chairman Peter England explained, “We are part of a larger community and understand we need to work with the great organizations that shape our County. Great assets of Palmetto Bay like the Deering Estate, Palmer Trinity School, Westminster Christian School, Alexander Montessori School and Christ Fellowship as well as the Beacon Council and others are our ticket to understanding and cooperation.”

The Partnership believes we are at a critical juncture to create a better quality of life for Palmetto Bay, the surrounding communities and its businesses. “We are irrevocably a residential community and no one wants to change that; however, we should make the best of our commercial opportunities and development,” said England. “The plan is not to intrude into residential neighborhoods, but to buffer with green space and provide supportive businesses to enrich the area.”

In the end, the Partnership provides well vetted ideas to the Village Council so that they can enact zoning, budgets and actions to drive the Downtown development.

You can participate by attending the meetings which occur on the second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM in the Ed and Arlene Feller Community Room on Old Cutler Road at the Public Library.

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